KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives On The Ripple Effects Of Obamacare’s Repeal And How It Can Be Replaced

Opinion writers offer their thoughts on the action surrounding the health law repeal and replace debate.

The New York Times: Obamacare Repeal Is Moving Forward. When Will Changes Affect Consumers?
Senate Republicans took a major first step in repealing Obamacare this week. Consumers, though, should keep in mind that many steps remain before any changes will affect individuals with health insurance. If you’re one of the estimated 20 million Americans who gained coverage through the health law, you are extremely unlikely to lose coverage this year. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 1/13)

The Washington Post: The Approaching Dead End On Obamacare
The Senate took a procedural vote in the early hours Thursday morning to proceed later this month with a reconciliation measure to “repeal” Obamacare. In other words they took a vote to take a vote by a set date, but they really did not do that either. The House will vote on a similar resolution tomorrow. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) explained from the floor. After recounting large premium increases in her state, she said, “Some of the ACA’s provisions – especially its consumer protections – enjoy bipartisan support and should be retained; however, its Washington-centric approach must be changed if we are ever to truly reform our broken health care system. Nevertheless, this task must be undertaken with care.” (Jennifer Rubin, 1/12)

Chicago Tribune: Rushing To Repeal Obamacare
Congressional Republicans are in a huge hurry to purge the nation of Obamacare. They're racing against a self-imposed Jan. 27 deadline to craft legislation to euthanize the 2010 law. ... These leaders act as if millions of Americans are clamoring to have their Obamacare coverage yanked away as soon as possible. That's absurd. Many Americans are disappointed and disillusioned by Obamacare. They seek affordable health care that covers the doctors and hospitals they choose. But they aren't demanding that the law be scrapped in a frenzied legislative rush before a better plan is in place. (1/12)

The New York Times: Do Markets Work In Health Care?
Believe it or not, we’re not really going to have to spend the next four years wading through wonky drudgery of Russian spy dossiers and hotel sex cameras. At some point we’re going to have a thrilling debate over the most scintillating question in health care policy. The Republicans are going to try to replace Obamacare. They’re probably going to agree to cover everybody Obama covered, thus essentially granting the Democratic point that health care is a right. But they are going to try to do it using more market-friendly mechanisms. (David Brooks, 1/13)

The New York Times: Donald Trump’s Medical Delusions
Some Republicans appear to be realizing that their long con on Obamacare has reached its limit. Chanting “repeal and replace” may have worked as a political strategy, but coming up with a conservative replacement for the Affordable Care Act — one that doesn’t take away coverage from tens of millions of Americans — isn’t easy. In fact, it’s impossible. But it seems that nobody told Mr. Trump. In Wednesday’s news conference, he asserted that he would submit a replacement plan, “probably the same day” as Obamacare’s repeal — “could be the same hour” — that will be “far less expensive and far better”; also, with much lower deductibles. This is crazy, on multiple levels. (Paul Krugman, 1/13)

The Atlantic: Is Obamacare Just Bad Branding?
But the implication is clear: “So we’re gonna do repeal and replace, very complicated stuff,” he said, repeating one of his favorite lines: “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster.” This, for some, raises the question: How much of the Obamacare-antipathy is about its namesake? Obamacare certainly has its warts, but Republicans have not coalesced around a replacement plan that would insure as many people while offering them the same choices and costing less. Would a health-care law by any other name be such a political lightning rod? (Olga Khazan, 1/12)

RealClear Health: Republicans Say Their Midnight Vote Was About Bridge Building. Actually, It Was Bridge Burning.
Republicans in the Senate voted Wednesday night on a bill that would significantly accelerate the repeal of key elements of the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) through reconciliation. As Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has acknowledged, this will almost certainly mean that Republicans will effectively get rid of the health-care law before coming up with a replacement. On the face of it, this seems like terrible politics. If Obamacare looks like it is unraveling, insurance companies are likely to pull out quickly, potentially leaving millions of people without health insurance and leaving Republicans with the blame. It’s a very risky gamble, but one that may have a strategic logic behind it. (Henry Farrell, 1/12)

Cleveland Plain-Dealer: In Repealing And Replacing Obamacare, First, Do No Harm
What, if anything, congressional Republicans will propose as a replacement for Obamacare -- which President-elect Donald Trump labeled a "complete and total disaster" at his Wednesday news conference -- is unclear, likely even to Republicans themselves. One thing that is clear is that repeal without a true replacement will imperil the health care of many, many Ohioans -- a fact that has some Republicans very concerned. (1/13)

The Washington Post: Is Affordable Health Care A Basic Right? Believe It Or Not, Republicans Think So.
Did you know that the Declaration of Independence offers an open-ended list of our basic rights? All of us are created equal, the Declaration proclaims, and endowed with certain unalienable rights. Then the Declaration elaborates: “Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Among these? In listing these three rights, the Declaration simply offers a set of examples. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are just three important cases among some larger set. What, then, are our other unalienable rights? Is health care by chance included? (Danielle Allen, 1/12)

Boston Globe: Bay Staters Flocking To Medicaid 
More and more Massachusetts residents are signing up for MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program — an average of 6,000 new people every month since mid-2015. And this really shouldn’t be happening, not when the economy is humming and Obamacare is long since implemented. MassHealth is supposed to be a safety net program .... So why is MassHealth growing? Partly because a growing number of people are no longer getting insurance from their employers. (Evan Horowitz, 1/12)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.