KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Opinions On Shutdown: Opening Marketplaces Makes This Impasse Different; Don’t Repeal Medical Device Tax; Democrats Are ‘Intransigents’

The Washington Post: Why This Government Shutdown Is Different
It’s different because the new health-care system got up and running on the very day the shutdown began. Conceding to the GOP would take health insurance away from people and ruin a program for which we now know there is a public appetite. It's not going to happen (E.J. Dionne Jr., 10/2).

The Washington Post: Shutdowns Have Been Frequent Tools Of Policy. Just Ask Reagan.
In one sense, government shutdowns have often been part of the push and pull of Washington’s appropriations process. But this time things are different. Democrats who chose to force through a fundamental change in the nation's health-care system without a single Republican vote when they controlled both legislative branches are simply refusing to come to terms with the fact that the House is now controlled — by a wide margin — by the other party. House Republicans have won two successive elections based in no small part on their opposition to Obamacare. The president ignores that fact only at his — and the nation's — peril (Joseph A. Morris, 10/2).

The Washington Post: Medical-Device Tax Repeal Is An Idea Full Of Holes
The excise tax amounts to asking the medical-device industry to chip in 2.3 percent of the tab, just as other health-care interests, such as insurance companies and the drug industry, were also asked to pony up. We hasten to add that this is hardly the optimal financing method; a generally applicable program ought to be financed with generally applicable taxes. Still, the $100 billion-plus medical-device industry is highly profitable. While the tax might impose some pain on the business, we doubt that it would doom it (10/2).

Politico: The Intransigents
The real problem with the Republican position isn't that it is unprecedented or inherently out of bounds but that is unlikely to achieve much. To put it mildly, the Republican handling of the continuing resolution has lacked the forethought traditionally associated with successful strategy. Republicans are now on their third version of the continuing resolution. Defunding is so last Tuesday. They have bid themselves down to a delay of the individual mandate and imposing Obamacare on Congress. Every indication is that [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid welcomed a shutdown on the assumption that Republicans could be made to pay the price. It's not a bad bet, but the risk to Democrats is that they make their eagerness to press their partisan advantage too blatant (Rich Lowry, 10/13).

Reuters: Shutdown: A Fight With No Room For Compromise
Hard-line conservatives are blocking majority rule so they can get their way. They insist they are taking a stand on principle. Why? "Because we're right, simply because we're right," one of them told the New York Times. What principle? The principle that the Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional expansion of government power and that President Barack Obama is not a legitimate president. But didn't the Supreme Court rule back in June that Obamacare is constitutional? It did. ... And didn't the voters re-elect Obama last year? They did. But hard-line conservatives insist that's only because Republicans put up a candidate who wasn't a true conservative (Bill Schneider, 10/2).

The New York Times: The Cost Of The Shutdown
Many Republicans seem to be celebrating the government shutdown as an opportunity to show that less spending isn't really so bad. "People are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed," said Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee on Fox News. Her upbeat attitude helps explain why so many in her party thought nothing of shutting down a government they distrust, all to dismantle a health care law they oppose (10/2).

The New York Times: Minority Rules
And long-range G.O.P. statisticians no doubt worry about something worse: that the Republicans have oversold their opposition to the law, that it won't fail and kill jobs, but will succeed and keep thankful voters alive and healthy. In this scenario, in a year, or five, or 10, or in a generation, voters will come to like and depend on the law and associate its success with the Democratic Party and opposition to it with the Republican Party (Charles M. Blow, 10/2).

The New York Times: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
They're insisting that Obama make concessions on a 3-year-old law, or else they will dock wages of government employees and damage the national economy to the tune of $300 million a day. In effect they're assuming that Obama is more responsible than they are, and that he will capitulate to this blackmail and protect the economy (Nicholas D. Kristof,10/2).    

USA Today: Why Shutdown Needs To End Now: Our View
Starting to feel public pressure, the House Republicans who forced the government closure as part of their quixotic quest to kill Obamacare offered to reopen some of the most popular programs, such as parks and the Department of Veterans Affairs, on a piecemeal basis. That might spare them some political heat. But it's like seizing a school bus full of kids then offering to release the cutest ones. Some of the serious problems just mentioned wouldn't be touched, nor would myriad others that will pop up in coming days. It was swiftly rejected (10/2).                                                                       

The Washington Post: Republicans Are Going To Need A Bigger Lifeboat
On the second day of the shutdown, House Republicans continued what might be called the lifeboat strategy: deciding which government functions are worth saving. In: veterans, the troops and tourist attractions. Out: poor children, pregnant women and just about every government function that regulates business or requires people to pay taxes. ... On Tuesday, GOP House members introduced bills that would exempt three entities: the national parks, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the District of Columbia. On Wednesday, they added the National Institutes of Health and pay for National Guard members and military reservists (Dana Milbank, 10/2).

The Wall Street Journal: The Treacherous Politics Of The Fiscal Showdown
House Republicans have landed on more defensible ground, offering on Monday to fund the government at current levels while making two important changes to ObamaCare. First, the House approved a one-year delay for the individual insurance mandate. The president already delayed the employer mandate, saving businesses $12 billion next year. A delay in the individual mandate will save $15 billion. It is politically popular (Karl Rove, 10/2).

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