KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Opinions On Shutdown: Both Sides Have Moved To Indefensible Positions; Health Law Is Not ‘Settled,’ Finding A ‘Non-Disastrous’ Debt Deal

The Wall Street Journal: To Lead Is To Negotiate
Acrimony, insults, the government shut down. Time to talk to a wise man, someone from the days when government worked. I turned to the famous Mr. Baker—James A. Baker III. ... The Republicans made a mistake early on with a "maximalist" position on Obamacare—they could not realistically achieve their aim of defunding when the Democrats hold the White House and Senate. But the president's position is a "pretty damn maximalist position itself, and people will say that" (Peggy Noonan, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: The Real Story Behind All Those Obamacare Waivers
Readers have been asking why The Times' editorial board has been so critical of House Republicans for trying to defund or delay key provisions of the 2010 healthcare law without faulting President Obama for supposedly granting Congress and hundreds of big businesses and politically connected unions waivers and exemptions from the law. That's because, with one notable exception, the exemptions aren't what they're cracked up to be (Jon Healey, 10/3).

The Washington Post: Who Shut Down Yellowstone?
President Obama indignantly insists that GOP attempts to abolish or amend Obama­care are unseemly because it is "settled" law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court. Yes, settledness makes for a strong argument — except from a president whose administration has unilaterally changed Obama­care five times after its passage, including, most brazenly, a year-long suspension of the employer mandate (Charles Krauthammer, 10/3).

The Washington Post: Why Obamacare Isn't 'Settled'
The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by President Obama, upheld by the Supreme Court and reconfirmed by the president's reelection. Many of its provisions have gone into effect. As Democrats have taken to saying, it is the law of the land. But contrary to what the president suggested in the Rose Garden this past week, that does not mean Obamacare is "settled, and it is here to stay." And it is not illegitimate for Republicans to use every lawful means at their disposal to stand in its way (Gerard Magliocca, 10/3).

The Wall Street Journal: The Budget Reform Pivot
The exit ramp is for both sides to pivot from the Obamacare stalemate to negotiations over tax and entitlement reform. The Ted Cruz Republicans would have to give up their mission to defund the Affordable Care Act with only one house of Congress. President Obama would have to show he's willing to negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit. Both sides would step back from the brink and give themselves a chance for some long-term political gains (10/3).

Bloomberg: How To Make A Non-Disastrous Debt-Limit Deal
Republicans, meanwhile, have adopted an unrealistic sense of how much of their policy agenda they can achieve by tying it to the debt limit. (An unrealistic sense of leverage seems to be a pattern with them this year.) Many of them want to force President Barack Obama to make major changes to his health-care law, and in return give him nothing but the debt-limit increase. There is no precedent for the satisfaction of such demands. Look back at every previous piece of legislation that raised the debt limit while also making changes to other government policies, and almost always the debt limit was the occasion for a bipartisan deal rather than the achievement of only one party’s goals (Ramesh Ponnuru, 10/3).  

The Wall Street Journal: The Defunding Way Of Fundraising
To understand the depths of the anger many good Washington conservatives are feeling for the ringleaders of the defund ObamaCare movement, follow the money. ... The defund campaign is best viewed as just one (lucrative) moment in a larger power play by a handful of outside conservative groups (Kimberley A. Strassel, 10/3).

The Washington Post: John Boehner's Turn To Give In
Most galling for them — and most beneficial for the country — is that they failed to defund or delay Obamacare. The health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act are up and running, despite technical glitches. People across the country are buying coverage for themselves and their families. This fight is over, people. Republicans lost (Eugene Robinson, 10/3).

The New York Times: Opinionator: Wrong Side Of History
Sarah Palin finally got her death panels — a direct blow from the Republican House. In shutting down the government, leaving 800,000 people without a paycheck and draining the economy of $300 million a day, the Party of Madness also took away last-chance cancer trials for children at the National Institutes of Health. And now that the pain that was dismissed as a trifle on Monday, a "slimdown" according to the chuckleheads at Fox News, is revealed as tragic by mid-week, the very radicals who caused the havoc are trying to say it’s not their fault. It’s too late. They flunked hostage-taking (Timothy Egan, 10/3).

The Washington Post: The GOP Should Speed Obamacare's Demise. Right Now, It's Not.
After much struggle and internal strife, Republicans seeking to block Obamacare have arrived at this achievement: Much of the government is closed — except for Obamacare. The national parks are deserted but the health exchanges sputter and wheeze to life (Michael Gerson, 10/3). 

Bloomberg: The Secret to Ending Washington's Standoff
Boehner and the Tea Party Republicans who have been calling the shots up to now have all but given up trying to end or even delay the Affordable Care Act. Reports of children being turned away from federal cancer-treatment programs are aligning the public against them. Polls say that Republicans are getting more of the blame than Democrats, and hopes for big Republican wins in 2014 are diminishing. The beginnings of a backlash could turn into something vicious if the calamity of a default should come to pass in two weeks and Boehner can't plausibly blame President Barack Obama (10/3).

The New Republic: The Republicans Are Starting To Reek Of Desperation
Boehner knows that shutting down the government was a bad idea and that allowing the federal treasury to default would be a much, much worse idea. He has said so explicitly. And yet here he is, shutting down the government and threatening to allow a default if Democrats won’t agree to undermine Obamacare. Every move Boehner has made in the last few days has reeked of panic. This talk of a new grand bargain does too (Jonathan Cohn, 10/3).

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