KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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GOP Wooed Conservatives In House, But Senate Compromises Are Favoring Moderates

Leadership has little room for error in their strategy to secure enough votes. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may favor keeping coverage protections for people with preexisting conditions, an aide says.

The New York Times: Senate Health Bill May Alienate G.O.P. Conservatives
Senate Republicans are closing in on a bill to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, diverging from the House on pre-existing medical conditions and maintaining federal subsidies that proponents see as essential to stabilizing insurance markets around the country. The changes appear largely designed to appeal to Republican senators who hail from states where the Affordable Care Act is popular and who were critical of the House bill, which would eliminate insurance for millions of Americans covered under the current law, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But the revisions may well alienate the Senate’s most conservative members, who are eager to rein in the growth of Medicaid and are unlikely to support a bill that does not roll back large components of the current law. (Steinhauer and Pear, 6/7)

Bloomberg: McConnell Backs Obamacare Pre-Existing Condition Protection, Source Says
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to keep in place Obamacare’s protection against higher health-insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions when they buy individual coverage, said a Republican aide familiar with the recommendation. The idea was discussed in a closed-door Senate GOP meeting Tuesday, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Republicans in the chamber are working to craft a more modest health-care bill than a House measure that nonpartisan analysts said would cause premiums to skyrocket for many older, poorer and sicker Americans and result in 23 million fewer people with coverage over a decade. (Litvan, 6/7)

Politico: Senate GOP May Keep Obamacare Taxes To Pay For Their Repeal
Senate Republicans are considering keeping some Obamacare taxes for a few more years to pay for their own repeal bill. Many want to make their repeal plan more generous than the House’s effort but are struggling to come up with ways to pay for it. The dilemma is how to balance the expensive effort to drive down premiums with a desire to scrap taxes that would raise money. (Haberkorn, Everett and Cancryn, 6/7)

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to talk about Medicaid —

The Hill: Key GOP Centrists Open To Ending Medicaid Expansion 
GOP moderates in the Senate are open to ending federal funding for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, but want a longer deadline for ending the additional funding than their leadership has proposed. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have proposed a seven-year phase-out of federal funding for the Medicaid expansion, beginning in 2020 and ending in 2027. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a shorter, three-year phase-out that would end in 2023 at the Senate lunch on Tuesday. (Roubein and Sullivan, 6/7)

CQ Roll Call: Senate Republicans Weigh Medicaid Proposals
Senate Republicans on Thursday are expected to keep negotiating over competing Medicaid proposals, including one to phase out higher payments for the expansion of the program starting in three years and another that would give states seven years to adjust to the end of the payments promised in the health care law. The health law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) provided higher payments to states for people who signed up under the expanded version of Medicaid than for people who qualify under traditional Medicaid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky reportedly suggested phasing out funding for people who sign up for the expanded program starting in 2020, reducing them to the normal matching rate in 2023. (Young, 6/7)

And Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough clarifies her findings over the upper chamber's ability to use reconcilliation —

CQ Roll Call: Democrats Cite Emails, Say Health Bill Faces Procedural Peril
Democrats say Republicans may still face hurdles to moving a revised version of the House-passed health care bill in the Senate, despite an optimistic Tuesday pronouncement from the Budget Committee. They cite a clarifying email sent by Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough Tuesday evening, in which she said her earlier finding was less sweeping than it might have seemed. It was the second of two emails sent by MacDonough. (Krawzak, 6/7)

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