KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Tax Employer Health Care Plans? GOP Rethinks Proposal, Continues Health Law Barrage

A GOP proposal to begin taxing employer-based health care benefits is worrying some Republicans that such a move could hurt the party politically ahead of 2014's elections. In the meantime, Republicans are continuing their attack on Democrats over the health law, using phrases like "broken promise" and "extraordinary disruption" to describe the law.

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Shy Away From Their Own Health Plan
Democrats' politically bruising experience over the Obama health law has prompted leading Republican policy experts to rethink one of the party's own long-standing ideas about remaking the health-care system. President Barack Obama and his party have suffered in public-opinion polls amid the health site's troubled rollout and as some five million people lost existing coverage that didn't meet new standards, even as the law seeks to expand coverage to many more Americans. Some Republicans are now worried that a GOP proposal to begin taxing health-care benefits offered through employers—which would affect some 160 million Americans—would cause market disruptions far more severe and expose the party to its own political peril (Meckler, 12/9).

Politico: GOP Ads Tie Dems To ACA ‘Broken Promise’
Republicans are using House Democrats’ own words against them in a new set of radio ads that tie the lawmakers to the bungled Obamacare rollout. Specifically, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ads, which launch Tuesday, focus on President Barack Obama’s “broken promise” that people could keep their old insurance plans under the new health law. Republicans spent weeks digging through old clips and statements from Democrats in hopes of catching them making the same pledge (Isenstadt, 12/10). 

The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: McConnell’s Claim Of Obamacare ‘Extraordinary Disruption’ For Americans With Health Insurance
Sen. McConnell, the Republican leader, has long been a critic of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. But his recent comments on Fox News appeared overheated: Are the 85 percent of Americans who have health insurance facing “extraordinary disruption”? McConnell’s comments in some ways are the flip side of President Obama’s claim earlier this year that “the 85 and 90 percent who already have health insurance” will not notice anything but better health care. He argued that impact will be felt instead by “that small group of people — 10 to 15 percent of Americans; now, it’s still 30 million Americans, but relatively a narrow group — who don’t have health insurance right now or are on the individual market and are paying exorbitant amounts for coverage that isn’t that great” (Kessler, 12/10).

And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has enrolled in coverage under the law but declined to take a federal subsidy --

The Washington Post: Lindsey Graham Enrolls Under Obamacare, Declines Federal Subsidy
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) became the latest U.S. lawmaker to enroll in a federal health insurance exchange but forego the federal subsidy he would normally receive for his premium. Graham announced Monday he would enroll in his home state's exchange, which is being run by the federal government, even though he opposes the Affordable Care Act. The congressional open enrollment period ends Monday. Senators are allowed to receive a federal subsidy covering roughly 75 percent of their health care premiums under the law by enrolling in the D.C. Health Link exchange. But at least 12 senators have waived their employer contribution and joined either a state-run exchange or the federal exchange (Eilperin, 12/9). 

Politico: Lindsey Graham Declines Health Care Contribution
Graham, who is 58 and single,said he will pay $400 more per month under Obamacare than under his current plan. But that significant increase is also likely due to the fact that he is turning down his employer contribution — which can cover as much as 75 percent of the costs of health care plans (Kim,12/9).

CNN: GOP Sen. Graham Latest To Sign Up For Obamacare, Refuse Subsidy
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has decided to sign up for federal health care coverage in the South Carolina exchange, rather than through the Washington, D.C., exchange where he would qualify for a federal subsidy offered to both lawmakers and congressional aides. "I don't think members of Congress should get a special deal," Graham said in a press release. "Obamacare is being pushed on the American people and we should live under it just like everyone else," he added (Sommers, 12/9).

ABC News: Colin Powell Pitches Single-Payer Health Care In US
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has waded into the health care debate with a broad endorsement of the kind of universal health plan found in Europe, Canada and South Korea. "I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life," Powell said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, last week at an annual "survivors celebration breakfast" in Seattle for those who, like Powell, have battled prostate cancer (Lazar, 12/9).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.