KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Congressional Lawmakers And Political Opponents Stake Out Health Law Positions, Strategies

For some, hitting the right note about the health law is proving to be a challenge.

Politico: Nix, Not Fix: GOP Pushed On Health Law
Republican primary candidates are caught in an Obamacare fix. Even the slightest hint that a GOP contender might support anything besides all-out repeal of the health care law is drawing attacks from the right. So, increasingly, in races across the country, proposals to fix the existing law or retain any of it are being ruled out by Republicans eager to further burnish their conservative credentials (Hohmann and Cheney, 12/15).

The New York Times: G.O.P. Firebrands Tone Down Their Message And Run Again
"My name is Congressman Bob Dold!" said the fleece-clad man making his way through a popular restaurant here. … Mr. Dold is seeking a political resurrection in next November's election, after just one term on Capitol Hill. After riding the Tea Party wave to Washington in 2010, he was swept out of office by the Obama tsunami in Illinois in 2012. Now he is among at least nine Republicans, a mix of former incumbents and previous challengers, who are running again — but with a difference. This time they have shelved their incendiary remarks about President Obama and the national debt in favor of a narrower focus on the Affordable Care Act, which they hope will attract moderate voters from both parties, even in heavily Democratic districts, who are disenchanted with its rollout (Steinhauer, 12/15).

Minnesota Public Radio: Obamacare A Burden For Democrats, For Now
The Republican political machine is trying to capitalize on Americans' opposition of the Affordable Care Act by targeting ads at Democrats, including Minnesota DFL U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan, Tim Walz and Collin Peterson. Even before it became law in 2010, most Republicans opposed the Affordable Care Act, and their complaints about "Obamacare" have resonated with many people. A recent Real Clear Politics compilation of polls shows nearly 53 percent of Americans oppose the law (Zdechlik, 12/15).

CBS News: GOP Senator: I Feel Your Pain On Obamacare
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has a message for anyone who has been less than thrilled by their experiences with Obamacare’s online insurance exchanges: I feel your pain. Toomey, in the weekly Republican address on Saturday, recalled his wife Kris’ frustrating experience with Obamacare website (Miller, 12/14).

Politico: Republicans Offer Holiday Hope, But Only Without Obamacare
Toomey shared several "common-sense, bipartisan solutions" that he said don't require "Obamacare's wholesale government takeover." He proposed giving individuals the same tax credits that employers receive for offering their employees health insurance, pooling small businesses to lower costs and making it easier for insurance to be carried across state lines (Villacorta, 12/14).

Independent Record (Helena, Mont.): Baucus: Obamacare Better Than What We Had, Here To Stay And Can Be Fixed
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who famously worried eight months ago that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s major components this year might be a "huge train wreck," looks something like a reluctant prophet now. But in an interview last week, Baucus — one of the law's chief architects — said he still stands strongly behind the law, and that it's not going away. ... "There is no question this law was the right thing to do. … (The law) is here, it's with us. The goal is to make it work. It's not going to be repealed" (Dennison, 12/15).

Politico: Gingrich: Budget Deal Keeps Focus On Obamacare
The bipartisan budget agreement is "brilliant politics" that will allow Republicans to keep the heat on Obamacare and avoid the terrible optics of more government shutdowns, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday. Gingrich said Republicans can now unwrap the "gigantic Christmas gift" of Obamacare's bungled implementation -- something the party failed to do in October when a focus on defunding Obamacare led to the first government shutdown in 17 years and a corresponding GOP nosedive in the polls (Everett, 12/15).

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