KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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GOP Secrecy Breeding Frustration, Criticism: ‘If They Liked The Bill, They’d Have Brass Bands’ Celebrating It

Democrats, as to be expected, are on the attack over the way Republicans are crafting the health law replacement legislation in secrecy, but even some GOP lawmakers are voicing concerns. Meanwhile, conservatives start to raise red flags about the measure's failure to curb spending.

The New York Times: Secrecy Surrounding Senate Health Bill Raises Alarms In Both Parties
As they draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republican leaders are aiming to transform large sections of the American health care system without a single hearing on their bill and without a formal, open drafting session. That has created an air of distrust and concern — on and off Capitol Hill, with Democrats but also with Republicans. (Kaplan and Pear, 6/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Conservatives Sound Alarm About Senate Health Bill
Conservatives inside and outside the Senate GOP are sounding alarms over the emerging shape of the chamber’s bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, a sign that the faction’s support may be increasingly difficult to secure. Pressure from outside groups has intensified in recent days, and conservative lawmakers have signaled their concern that the Senate bill doesn’t do enough to curb spending on the Medicaid federal-state program for the poor or to reduce health-care premiums—two of their top goals. (Peterson, Radnofsky and Armour, 6/15)

The Hill: Rand Paul Denounces 'New Entitlements' In Emerging Health Bill 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sharply criticized central elements of the emerging Senate Republican healthcare bill on Thursday, indicating that he will vote against it unless dramatic changes are made. Paul denounced as “new entitlements” two core elements of the Republican bill in both the House and Senate: a refundable tax credit to help people buy insurance and a “stabilization fund” of money to help bring down premiums.  (Sullivan, 6/15)

The Hill: Murkowski: 'I Just Truly Do Not Know' If I Can Support GOP Health Bill 
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a potential key swing vote on an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan, isn’t sure she could support the emerging Senate Republican healthcare bill. When asked Thursday if she had confidence she could eventually support a bill, Murkowski said she didn’t know...Murkowski wouldn’t commit when asked if she would support a seven-year phaseout of the Medicaid expansion, which some moderate GOP senators are pushing. Nor would she say whether she would support a slower phaseout or a faster one.  (Weixel, 6/15)

In more news —

The Wall Street Journal: What May Be In The Senate’s Health Bill
The Senate health bill is still a work in progress, with no official text yet. The Senate’s Republican leadership has been hammering out the bill behind closed doors, so there has been scant information about the legislation. But its outline so far is said to resemble a more expansive version of the legislation passed last month by the House. (Armour, 6/15)

Reuters: Senate May Keep Some Obamacare Taxes In U.S. Healthcare Overhaul
Republican senators trying to repeal Obamacare are forming consensus to keep some of the U.S. healthcare law's taxes they long criticized, in hopes of delaying more drastic funding cuts, particularly to the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. First proposed by moderate Republicans, the idea is gaining traction among party members, according to five sources involved in or briefed on internal discussions. (Abutaleb, 6/15)

CQ Roll Call: Senate Republicans Wrestle With Approaches On Health Bill
Senate Republicans on Thursday continued to debate different approaches to revising a House-passed health bill, with their extended deliberations making their goal of a June vote on the measure increasingly elusive. “I don't think we're close” to completing a bill yet, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters Thursday morning. That has been apparent this week, especially after Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he was hoping for action by the end of July rather than the original GOP goal of a vote by the July 4 recess. (Young and Raman, 6/15)

Stat: It's The Most Costly House Race Ever, And It May Hinge On Health Care
The most expensive congressional race in U.S. history may hinge on the wonky topic of preexisting conditions. Democrat Jon Ossoff, trying to seize a suburban Atlanta seat held by Republicans since 1979, has spent weeks railing against the GOP health care bill passed by House lawmakers this spring. In debates, he’s repeatedly trotted out the story of Matt, a 7-year-old with a heart condition, saying his parents would have to pay “tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars” a year to keep their son alive if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Responding with her own polished anecdote, Republican Karen Handel tells voters she’s well-aware of the importance of covering preexisting conditions because her sister was born without an esophagus. (Blau, 6/16)

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