KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Delay Provides Breathing Room To Net More Votes, But Also Gives Time For Doubts To Fester

Both moderate and conservative Republicans on the fence about the proposed legislation, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine saying at least eight of her colleagues have expressed concerns.

USA Today: Republican Health Care Bill Faces Perilous Path After Vote Delay
Republicans already lost two of their members on the revised bill – the moderate Collins and Kentucky conservative Sen. Rand Paul, who said they would vote against a procedural motion to bring the bill to the floor – and can’t afford to lose a third. Without McCain’s vote in favor, the bill does not have enough support to pass. (Collins and Sullivan, 7/16)

The Washington Post: GOP Opponents To Senate Health-Care Bill See Vote Delay As An Advantage
A vocal conservative opponent of the measure, Sen. Rand Paul, predicted the delay would strengthen critics’ position by giving them more time to mobilize against the bill. “The longer the bill is out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover it is not repeal,” Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.” (Viebeck, 7/16)

Politico: Who’s In And Who’s Out: McConnell’s Twisting Path To 50
Moderate senators like Ohio’s Rob Portman, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Nevada’s Dean Heller are still on the fence about the bill, worried about its deep cuts to Medicaid. At the other end of the spectrum, conservative Sen. Mike Lee is undecided even after GOP leaders tried to include his idea for rolling back more of Obamacare’s regulations. (Cancryn, 7/15)

The Hill: After Delay, Senate Republicans Struggle Not To Let Healthcare Stall 
Pessimism peppered appearances by senators on this week’s Sunday show circuit, including the two senators who last week came out against the motion to proceed on the bill. “At the end of the day, I don’t know whether it will pass,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the “no” votes, told CNN’s “State of the Union.” (Shelbourne, 7/16)

Politico: Meet Obamacare Repeal’s Top Salesman
Senate Republicans are in a grumpy mood these days. Then there’s John Cornyn, who’s almost unfailingly optimistic about the GOP’s chances of passing its Obamacare repeal bill despite the increasingly long odds. “I mean, if you’re going to be in a leadership role, you don’t have the luxury of public hand-wringing,” Cornyn, the Senate majority whip, said in a recent interview in his Capitol office. (Kim and Everett, 7/16)

Politico: How The White House And Republicans Underestimated Obamacare Repeal
The longer Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare flounder, the clearer it becomes that President Donald Trump’s team and many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement. The Trump transition team and other Republican leaders presumed that Congress would scrap Obamacare by President’s Day weekend in late February, according to three former Republican congressional aides and two current ones familiar with the administration’s efforts. (Cook and Everett, 7/17)

Politico Pro: Republicans Use State Payoffs To Win Votes For Repeal Bill
Republicans hammered Democrats seven and a-half years ago for larding Obamacare with state-specific payoffs and sweeteners to secure the last few votes for passage... But the revised Senate Obamacare repeal bill shows Republicans engaged in the same pattern of horse trading as they try to win 50 ayes to advance an unpopular bill. (Demko, 7/14)

Meanwhile, a look at the individual senators who will make or break the legislation —

The Hill: Five Key Senators Who Will Make Or Break Healthcare Reform 
The fate of Republican legislation to repeal and replace major parts of ObamaCare rests on a handful of senators who have strong reservations about the bill and a variety of political reasons to either support or oppose it. Two Republicans have already said they will vote against a motion to proceed to the bill next week, giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) no margin for error. (Bolton, 7/15)

The Associated Press: Nevada Sen. Dean Heller Is The Man To Watch On Health Bill
Health care legislation is hanging by a thread in the Senate, and no one is under more pressure than Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. Heller was already seen as the most endangered GOP incumbent senator in next year's midterm elections. He is the only one running for re-election in a state President Donald Trump lost to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (Werner and Noon, 7/14)

Los Angeles Times: In His Small Hometown, Arizona's Jeff Flake Faces Perils And Pressure Of Senate Healthcare Debate
Ron McArthur is a man with big plans. As head of the chief medical provider in this rural slice of eastern Arizona, McArthur firmly believes what’s good for Summit Healthcare is good for communities tucked in the foothills of the White Mountains. “We’re the economic engine,” he said. “We sponsor everything, we’re the biggest employer, we offer the highest-paying jobs.” (Barabak, 7/17)

McClatchy: Senate GOP’s Healthcare Problem Is Not Trump
One big reason Senate Republicans are having trouble uniting around a plan to overhaul the nation’s health coverage is that a lot of them just don’t get along. These intra-party clashes of personality and policy stymie the bill’s progress as much as any other political force. (Wise, 7/17)

McClatchy: Progressives Lobby GOP Senators On Republican Health Bill
Moderate Republican senators who opposed the original Obamacare replacement bill will face increased pressure from health care advocates to hold the line next week in a possible vote on the revised legislation... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a vote, possibly as early as Tuesday, on a motion to allow a floor vote on the amended Better Care Reconciliation Act, which was unveiled on Thursday to heavy criticism from a variety of health care groups. (Pugh, 7/14)

Politico: White House Announces New Theme Weeks Amid Health Care Bill Uncertainty
With Republicans’ health care bill in jeopardy, the White House is once again turning to a series of unrelated themed weeks to organize President Donald Trump’s schedule. ... Administration officials bristled at the notion that the themed weeks could distract from the debate over repealing and replacing Obamacare, one of the president’s biggest policy priorities. (Restuccia, 7/16)

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