KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Tuesday Came And Went — Still No Agreement To Reopen The Gov’t, Raise The Debt Ceiling

Differences among House GOP lawmakers are a key factor in this ongoing Capitol Hill drama, as some members continue to push to delay and derail parts of the health law. The current proposal emerging from the Senate includes changes to the overhaul, but most say these provisions would not significantly alter the measure.

The New York Times: Debt Talks In Disarray As House Balks
A day that was supposed to bring Washington to the edge of resolving the fiscal showdown instead seemed to bring chaos and retrenching. And a bitter fight that had begun over stripping money from the president's signature health care law had essentially descended in the House into one over whether lawmakers and their staff members would pay the full cost of their health insurance premiums, unlike most workers at American companies, and how to restrict the administration from using flexibility to extend the debt limit beyond a fixed deadline. Even so, the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and his leadership team failed in repeated, daylong attempts to bring their troops behind any bill that would reopen the government and extend the Treasury's debt limit on terms significantly reduced from their original push against funding for the health care law (Weisman, 10/15).

The New York Times: With G.O.P. Badly Divided, Boehner Is Left 'Herding Cats'
It was yet another moment of decision for Mr. Boehner, who finally finds himself at the crossroads he has been marching toward for weeks: an imminent financial default on the one hand, and on the other an unyielding conservative rank and file that persists with the futile effort to take down President Obama's health care law even if they also take down the speaker in the process. While his colleagues sang about how what once was lost had now been found, Mr. Boehner did not tell them a more dispiriting truth: With less than 48 hours left before the nation is set to exhaust its authority to borrow money, he and his lieutenants were running out of ideas — a fact made starkly evident by the mad and fruitless scramble on Tuesday to come up with a measure that could win enough support from his members. Around 7 p.m., he sent the House home and canceled all votes for the day (Parker and Peters, 10/15).

The Wall Street Journal: House GOP Abandons Its Proposal
For all the drama, the House legislation looked much like the Senate plan and, like the Senate proposal, was only a short-term fix. The House bill would have raised the debt limit through Feb. 7 and ended the 15-day government shutdown by funding federal agencies through Dec. 15. Conservatives objected both to the Senate bill and Mr. Boehner's alternative because they gave Republicans too little of what they had been demanding—major changes in the 2010 health-care law and measures to reduce the deficit (Hook, Cui and Peterson, 10/15).

Los Angeles Times: Boehner's Push For House Budget Compromise Falters
Shortly after House leaders officially called off a vote on their most recent plan, spokesmen for Reid and McConnell said Senate talks were resuming. They had paused for the day to allow Boehner (R-Ohio) a chance to get a bill through the House. … Senate aides said the agreement would extend the Treasury's authority to borrow money through Feb. 7 and end the government shutdown, providing federal agencies with funds through Jan. 15. … The plan would make no significant changes in President Obama's healthcare law. Democrats were expected to drop a proposal to repeal a new tax on insurance plans that is opposed by some unions. The agreement also would direct officials to confirm that people receiving insurance subsidies under the law were eligible for them, something Democrats say the law already requires (Memoli, Mascaro and Bennett, 10/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Insistent About Tweaking Health-Care Law
Some of the changes in the health-care law Republicans have sought in budget negotiations affect provisions so obscure few have heard of them, while others would hit more high-profile parts of the legislation. What the changes all have in common is that they are relatively small, particularly when compared with opponents' original hopes: to use the budget debate as a lever to strip funds from implementation of the law, or delay for a year its signature provision that most individuals carry insurance or pay a penalty. Those efforts have fallen short (Radnofsky, 10/15).

CNN: Proposed Budget Deal Barely Dents Obamacare
Although the terms of a deal that would end a two-week partial shutdown of federal offices and raise the government's legal borrowing limit weren't final Tuesday, Democratic sources told CNN one possible change being weighed by Senate leaders could delay a fee on employers, unions and other health-plan sponsors that compensate insurance companies for taking on high-risk customers in the first year of the program set up under the Affordable Care Act. Another could strengthen verification measures for people seeking federal subsidies to help them purchase health insurance required by the law. Both of those are far short of the target set by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, who hoped to wipe out funding for Obamacare, as the program has become known. "This doesn't, frankly, do a whole lot to Obamacare," said Lawrence Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (Smith, 10/16).

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