KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives On Repealing And Replacing; Timing Issues; And Detailing Some Obamacare Facts

Opinion writers around the country offer their thoughts on the ongoing debate about the GOP Congress' efforts to dismantle the 2010 health law and how -- because of the measure's sweeping nature -- their efforts are no easy task.

The Wall Street Journal: A Repeal And Replace Explainer
Every important legislative reform has Perils of Pauline moments, but the early Republican anxiety over ObamaCare repeal and replace is less than promising. Liberals want to label the effort a failure before the hard work even begins, and President-elect Trump and Congress need to swiftly unite around a better health-care alternative and a political strategy to pass it. (1/10)

The New York Times: Seven Questions About Health Reform
On Tuesday, Donald J. Trump said he wanted Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act right away and replace it with a new plan “very shortly thereafter.” But before they abandon all the work that has gone into the health care law since 2010, President-elect Trump and Republicans in Congress owe Americans a detailed explanation of how they plan to replace it. They should not repeal the law until they have submitted their replacement proposal for analysis by nonpartisan authorities like the Congressional Budget Office and the Tax Policy Center to determine how it will affect health insurance coverage, state and federal finances and individual tax burdens. (Harold Pollack and Timothy S. Jost, 1/10)

The New York Times: Some Republicans Try To Head Off A Health Care Calamity
President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican leaders may be determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately, but a few more sensible members of the party are now trying to slow down this runaway train. They recognize the danger in destroying a program that directly benefits 22 million Americans — and indirectly millions more by controlling costs — without a plan to replace it. That perhaps obvious insight has yet to penetrate Mr. Trump’s reality distortion field. (1/11)

The Washington Post: Where’s The GOP’s Health-Care Plan?
For six years, Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “Repeal and replace” was a staple of Donald Trump’s stump speech. Give us control, Republicans promised, and what Mike Pence promises as the “first order of business” will be repeal and replace. Only one problem: There is no plan. (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 1/10)

The Washington Post: Trump To GOP: Obamacare Is A Disaster, Right? So Hurry Up And Replace It, Already!
This morning, I speculated that Donald Trump might blow up the congressional GOP strategy of “repeal and delay” by insisting that Republicans stick to his insistence, made in a post-election interview, that repeal and replace be done “simultaneously.” Trump seemed reluctant to sign a repeal measure that leaves the Affordable Care Act’s replacement open to doubt — since, after all, he repeatedly promised to replace it with “something terrific,” and suggested this would be easy to do. Well, now Trump has indeed weighed in again along those lines. (Greg Sargent, 1/10)

The Des Moines Register: Your Health Insurance Is In Republicans' Hands
Last week President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill for a closed-door meeting with Democrats. Don’t “rescue” Republicans when it comes to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, he reportedly told them. “If they want to break this, they own it,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said shortly after the meeting. He is exactly right. (1/10)

Health Affairs: To Get Dems On Board With ACA Replacement, Republicans Should Take Medicare Off The Table
Republicans have expressed interest in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), restructuring Medicare to a premium support model, and reforming Medicaid through either block grants or per capita caps. Taking on all three programs is an extremely heavy lift — both politically and legislatively. If it is improbable to do all three, Republicans should openly acknowledge that they are taking Medicare restructuring off the table. ... Without Medicare as a rallying point, Democrats would be forced to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which is relatively unpopular and in need of reconsideration. Refusing to engage might not be in their political interest. (Rodney Whitlock, 1/10)

RealClear Health: The Bipartisan Healthcare Hope Of Repeal And Replace
After eight years Republicans are finally in a position to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many caution that repeal without concomitant replacement will lead to chaos in the insurance markets with millions losing coverage. These fears are overstated. Yet replacement should accompany repeal for another reason -- to maximize the chance that a good replacement package can be enacted. (Joel Zinberg, 1/11)

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Facts Are Stubborn Things
Even if we live in a post-truth culture, which I doubt, we do not live in a fact-free zone. Underneath politicians’ unending efforts to frame issues and events to their advantage resides a world that is what it is, however they may choose to describe it. When rhetoric and facts diverge, the world has a nasty habit of reasserting itself. This real world helps explain the emerging Republican shift on ObamaCare. (William A. Galston, 1/10)

USA Today: Obamacare Repeal Helps The Rich And Hurts The Poor
Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) threaten the health care of 30 million Americans and would erode some rare progress made recently to reverse America’s growing economic inequality. By taxing rich households and big corporations to subsidize health care for working families, the ACA does what good public policy should: level the playing field to give everyone a shot, not just those at the top. Abolishing the ACA would only further tilt the field in favor of the wealthy and well-connected. (Frank Clemente and Ron Pollack, 1/11)

The Columbus Dispatch: Let's See The GOP Health-Care Plan
Republicans are gearing up to repeal Obamacare — what House Speaker Paul Ryan calls “the first order of business” for the new Congress and the Trump administration. House and Senate committees will be under intense deadline pressure to write legislation before the end of the month that would undercut major pillars of Obamacare as part of a budget bill. Yes, the GOP is in a hurry to rid the nation of Obamacare. But remember the second half of the Republican mantra — “replace.” Where is the detailed GOP plan to help millions of Americans who have coverage now under Obamacare? (1/11)

Chicago Tribune: Repealed, Replaced Or Tweaked, The Essence Of Obamacare Will Endure
When it was merely an impotent gesture of rage and contempt sure to be blocked or vetoed, Republican members of the House voted some 60 times to repeal or seriously undermine the ACA. Their chance to do it for real is nigh, and Trump pressed Tuesday afternoon for a repeal vote "probably sometime next week." I suspect they'll chicken out. (Eric Zorn, 1/10)

Seattle Times: Obamacare Expert: ‘This Couldn’t Be A More Republican Policy’
Every day, it seems, the incoming Republican-led administration issues a new target in its planned repeal of the ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare), which provides health care to an estimated 20 million people. ... [Daniel E. Dawes, an Atlanta-based health-care lawyer] is the executive director of health policy and external affairs at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and founder and chair of the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform. He literally wrote the book on Obamacare — and can’t understand why it’s under fire. Republicans have said — and have been saying for years — they will tear the health-care plan down to the studs and replace it with a plan of their own. But we haven’t seen a word of that plan, Dawes said. (Nicole Brodeur, 1/10)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Doctor: Affordable Care Act A Lifesaver
For most of the last 15 years, my clinical practice as a physician has been exclusively with homeless men, women and children. The work is both energizing and distressing, heartwarming and heartbreaking. In 2013, Ohio expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and the lives of my patients changed dramatically for the better. Suddenly poor and sick adults who previously had to choose between medicine and food, or health care and housing, had an opportunity to have both. (Nancy Elder, 1/10)

Tampa Bay Times: How To Fix The Health Care Market 
The market impact is clear. When healthier people don't buy insurance, premiums stay high because the pool of people who do buy insurance is riskier and costlier overall. The result is expensive insurance and a large number of people who remain uninsured — around 40 million before the Affordable Care Act. (Alan Green, 1/10)

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