KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate GOP Petitioning For ‘Permanent Delay’ Of Obamacare

Encouraged by the administration's delay of the employer mandate provision by one year, Republicans were active on both sides of Capitol Hill Tuesday, renewing their calls for repeal.

The New York Times: Democrats Shrug Off Delays And Affirm Support For Health Law
Congressional Democrats said Wednesday that they expected to see more delays and snags in President Obama's efforts to carry out the new health care law, but they affirmed their strong support for the overarching goal of expanded coverage. The comments came in a hearing of a House Ways and Means subcommittee held to investigate the president’s decision last week to delay until 2015 a major provision of the law. It requires employers with more than 50 full-time workers to offer health coverage to them (Pear, 7/10).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: GOP Has 'Really Busy Month' Ahead On Health Care
KHN's Mary Agnes Carey talks with Politico Pro's Paige Winfield Cunningham about the latest Republican efforts to delay or repeal Obamacare provisions, including postponing a mandate on individuals to carry health insurance (7/11).

National Journal: House GOP Adopts New, Populist Critique Of Obamacare
In the ongoing rhetorical wars against the president’s health care law, House Republicans have found a new critique—and it has a populist bite. The argument goes like this: By delaying last week a requirement that employers with a workforce of 50 or more offer their workers insurance, the White House gave a break to small business. But it isn’t granting a similar reprieve to ordinary Americans by postponing the law’s unpopular requirement that individuals obtain health insurance or face a fine (Hollander and Sanger-Katz, 7/11).

Des Moines Register: Harkin Questions Legality Of Delay In Obamacare
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a steady supporter of President Barack Obama’s signature health reform program, put the White House on the defensive Wednesday by questioning the legality of a delay in one of the law’s key provisions. The Iowa Democrat was quoted in the New York Times Wednesday saying he didn’t understand what authority the president used to postpone by a year a requirement that large employers provide health insurance to full-time employees (Leys, 7/11).

The Hill: Treasury Dept. Defends ObamaCare Mandate Delay
In response to questions from congressional Republicans, Treasury said the delay was "an exercise of the Treasury Department's longstanding administrative authority" to provide flexibility with new laws. ... Republicans have questioned whether the delay is legal, since the law says the policy should take effect in 2014. Treasury cited past instances in which it delayed penalties associated with new legislation (Baker, 7/10).

The Hill: ObamaCare Setbacks Hand Weapon To Opponents Of Law
Republicans are launching a new offensive against President Obama’s healthcare law, hoping flaws in the implementation will help undermine public confidence in the Democrats who passed it. Republicans’ anti-ObamaCare sentiments have ratcheted up to a fever pitch since the administration announced last week that it would delay a provision of the healthcare law requiring large employers to offer healthcare coverage to their workers or pay a penalty (Baker, 7/10).

NPR: GOP Says, Why Not Delay That Health Care Law, Like, Forever?
Sensing that recent delays in key portions of the Affordable Care Act have caught the Obama administration at a weak point in its rollout of the law, Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their efforts to cripple the measure, at least in the eyes of the public if not in fact. ... [Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.] got 45 other GOP senators to sign onto a letter to the president urging him to shelve the law entirely. ... Democrats, however, said Republicans were overreacting. "We don't know exactly what the landscape will look like in January, but it's entirely possible this decision will help consumers," said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash, at the subcommittee hearing (Rovner, 7/11).

Modern Healthcare: Tavenner Rips 'Myths' Surrounding ACA
After remaining largely silent following last week's Obama administration decision to delay for one year the healthcare reform law's employer mandate, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Tuesday issued what she called a "reality check" in the form of a blog post titled "Myth vs. Fact: Health Insurance Marketplace on Track." "Unfortunately, there have been some mischaracterizations of these regulations and confusion about how the Marketplace will work when it opens later this year," Tavenner wrote. "Let's do a reality check on some of the myths that have been circulating" (Block, 7/10).

Modern Healthcare: Reform Update: Insurance Exchanges In Line of Fire
The U.S. Senate's HHS appropriations bill that started to advance this week, which includes much of the healthcare funding sought by the Obama administration, is likely headed for a series of partisan political battles, including over funding for the new state health insurance exchanges. The bill was approved Tuesday by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The full Appropriations Committee will consider it Thursday (Daly, 7/10).

Politico: Role Reversal: GOP Members Dispense Obamacare Advice
Republican lawmakers have spent the past three years blasting Obamacare, but now they have a new role: helping people sign up for it. It’s a role reversal that puts party politics at odds with constituent service. Even Obamacare’s most strident opponents say that if people call their offices looking for help when enrollment starts in October, they’ll direct their staff to assist (Haberkorn, 7/10).

Politico: Congressional Black Caucus To Launch Obamacare Tour
Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius won’t be alone when she’s on the road pitching Obamacare this summer. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are planning an eight-city tour of their own to “ensure communities are equipped with the information they need” to access health insurance exchanges and understand the impact of the health law. It’s not about the politics but about getting community members the facts they need, they say (Cheney, 7/11).

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