KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Issues And Answers: How The Senate GOP’s Better Care Act Changes Medicaid And The Individual Insurance Market

Editorial writers and columnists analyze a variety of policy proposals advanced in the current Senate plan.

The Washington Post: Want To Know The Worst Thing About The GOP’S Health-Care Bill?
The official numbers on the Senate health-care bill are in, and they are grim: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found Monday that the Better Care Reconciliation Act would result in 22 million fewer people with health-care coverage in a decade. “By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the experts concluded. (6/26)

The New York Times: A Few Bright Spots For Republicans. The Rest Can Be Scored As Grim.
In dry, stark language, the Congressional Budget Office on Monday punctured many of the stated goals for the Republican health care bill. The budget analysis gave Republican senators just a few happy talking points. It found that average insurance premiums would be lower in 2020 than they are today. The bill would reduce the deficit by more than $300 billion over a decade. And it would produce a huge tax cut, albeit mostly for wealthier Americans. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 6/26)

The Washington Post: How The Republicans’ Health-Care Plan Betrays Republicans’ Own Principles
The Senate Republicans’ health-care plan, like the House Republicans’ health-care plan, is objectively terrible. It would result in 22 million Americans losing insurance. It would dramatically raise premiums for the poor and old. Its Medicaid cuts would harm people with disabilities, nursing home residents and even babies. But we knew all that was coming. The surprising thing about this bill is not that it forsakes the indigent, elderly and vulnerable. It’s that it forsakes so many of the Republicans’ own vaunted values. (Catherine Rampell, 6/26)

Health Affairs Blog: The Downstream Consequences Of Per Capita Spending Caps In Medicaid
Medicaid, the government program that provides health insurance coverage to low-income and disabled Americans, is the largest payer for health care in the United States in terms of enrollees and the second-largest payer (behind only Medicare) in terms of spending. Escalating health care costs, a growing federal budget deficit, and fiscal challenges in many states have led to calls to reform the program to decrease spending growth. Recent federal reform proposals from House and Senate [Republicans] would change the current financing system in which the federal government guarantees a share of total program spending to states to one limiting federal cost exposure by setting a per capita cap on federal payments to a state. (Timothy Layton, Ellen Montz and Thomas McGuire, 6/26)

Los Angeles Times: The CBO's Other Grim News About The Senate GOP Healthcare Bill
[Republicans] main goal isn’t to preserve the coverage gains achieved by the ACA, it’s to cut the premiums paid by those who aren’t covered by large employer health plans. And on that front, the CBO offers what looks at first blush like good news for the GOP. After an initial spike in premiums in 2018 (projected to be 20% higher than if current law were left in place), rates would head in the other direction .... Now for the reality check. First off, we’re not talking about rates being lower in 2020 than they are today — just that they wouldn’t be as high as they would be under current law. And second, the main reasons premiums would be comparatively lower, the CBO predicts, are that the policies would be worth less, and federal taxpayers would be kicking in more. (Jon Healey, 6/27)

Chicago Tribune: Have A Pre-Existing Condition? Senate Bill's Not For You
I've been spending a lot of time these past years in hospital lobbies, infusion rooms, scanning stations and oncology exam rooms. Like countless others diagnosed each year with cancer in America, I was well one day and in the land of the mortally sick the next. Fortunately for me, I entered the disease's demanding treadmill — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — with a devoted husband, fierce family and friends and good medical care. But my cancer went metastatic anyway in June 2015. At age 59, I was declared terminal and given "six months to a year" to live. I'm still here today because I'm one of the lucky ones to respond, at least partially, to immunotherapy — a breakthrough set of new drugs that help the body fight cancer. (Melinda Welsh, 6/26)

The Wall Street Journal: The Senate Saves The 10th Amendment
For decades American conservatives have sought to restore meaning to the 10th Amendment, which recognizes the states’ right to manage their affairs free from Washington’s interference. Passing the Republican Senate’s health-care bill would represent historic progress toward that goal. (Avik Roy, 6/26)

The New York Times: The Senate’s Secretly Bipartisan Health Bill
In 2010, when Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, Republicans complained that they did so with no Republican support. Democrats responded by pointing out that the centerpiece of their plan — tax credits to buy private insurance — came from a Republican governor, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Something similar is happening today. Democrats are denouncing the partisan nature of the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. They’re right to note that if the new bill passes the Senate, it will do so along party lines. But the core planks of the Senate Republicans’ health bill — the Better Care Reconciliation Act — borrow just as much from Democratic ideas as Obamacare borrowed from Republican ones. (Avik Roy, 6/26)

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