KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives: The GOP’s Health Plan Steeped In ‘Secrecy’ And ‘Sabotage’: Could Exchange Meltdown Trigger Medicaid Extension?

Opinion writers parse a variety of issues related to the Affordable Care Act, the American Health Care Act, Medicaid's ups and downs, the future of single-payer proposals and other health policy developments.

The Washington Post: The Senate’s Three Tools On Health Care: Sabotage, Speed And Secrecy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had a problem when the American Health Care Act arrived from the House last month. What to do with a bill that is clogging your agenda but only 8 percent of Americans want you to pass and members of your own caucus swore was dead on arrival? McConnell couldn’t have missed the town halls filled with angry Americans who rely on Medicaid and see the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with preexisting conditions as a godsend. The House bill — which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would cause 23 million to lose coverage and end those protections for many — threatened all of that. (Andy Slavitt, 6/10)

The Washington Post: The GOP’s Obamacare Sabotage Continues
Another week, another insurance company deserting patients in a wide swath of the country. Last Tuesday, Anthem announced it would pull out of the Obamacare marketplace in Ohio, potentially leaving individual insurance-buyers in about a fifth of the state’s counties without Affordable Care Act coverage to purchase. ... Are these moves more evidence that Obamacare is fundamentally unworkable? Hardly. ... Anthem explained clearly what is responsible for its retreat: Republican sabotage of the health-care system. (6/10)

The New York Times: Republicans’ Secretive Plan For Health Care
While many Americans make sense of James Comey’s testimony on his meetings with President Trump, Republican senators are quietly moving toward something that has been their party’s goal for nearly eight years: dismantling the Affordable Care Act. The question, of course, is how they plan to replace it. ... The Senate aims to vote by the end of the month, and will probably do so with no hearings. This stands in stark contrast to the process leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which included over 100 congressional hearings. (Miranda Yaver, 6/9)

RealClear Health: How Obamacare May Morph Into Medicaid
The slow-motion consideration by Congress and the president to change the Affordable Care Act is likely to produce surprising results. The insurance market does not go into suspended animation while Washington debates. (JB Silvers, 6/12)

Bloomberg: Republicans Aim To Win The Health-Care Blame Game
What to make of the seeming momentum for a Republican health-care bill in the Senate? On the one hand, a bit of caution might be in order. There still isn't a bill. There isn't a Congressional Budget Office score. Republicans must keep their relative moderates on board without losing the most conservative senators; they may be achieving that, and they're still a few steps away from that. It wouldn't be the first time that a bill seemed to have momentum only to fall short once the actual votes were counted. That said, it's also quite possible that Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders have threaded the needle. (Jonathan Berstein, 6/9)

Detroit Free Press: Key Republican Wants To Rescue Obamacare, For Now
The tumultuous past week provided reassuring evidence that there are still a few fully-functioning adults in the U.S. Congress — and not all of them sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee. U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is one such grown-up. ... Brady acknowledged publicly what Republican governors and health care experts have been saying privately for months: Unless his party does something to shore up the Affordable Care Act until a new, Republican-branded system is in place, millions of Americans may lose access to affordable health care just in time for next year's congressional elections. (Brian Dickerson, 6/9)

The Wall Street Journal: A Single-Payer Test Drive
California’s state Senate recently passed a single-payer health-care bill, and we’re warming to the idea as an instructive experiment in progressive government. If Democrats believe the lesson of ObamaCare is that the government should have even more control over health care, then why not show how it would work in the liberal paradise? (6/11)

Sacramento Bee: Single Payer: Democrats' New Litmus Test
Following California’s lead, Democrats nationally are embracing plans to expand Medicare to provide all Americans with health insurance. ... Single-payer has not yet been endorsed by the Democratic leadership in Congress. But growing grassroots and political support for Medicare for All soon could make it the de facto Democratic health care plan, with or without the leaders. (Ben Tulchin and Ben Krompak, 6/9)

Chicago Tribune: Obamacare, Medicaid And Illinois: Springfield, What's Your Plan?
If you've been following the Obamacare repeal and replace struggle, you know this much: The GOP-backed bill that passed the House won't become law. It's DOA in the Senate. Senators are crafting their own version. But that House bill, known as the American Health Care Act, was valuable because it reminded us of a larger truth about the 2010 law President Barack Obama championed: America has not one Obamacare population, but two. (6/11)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Medicaid Drug Tests Punishes Wisconsin's Poorest People
Wisconsin last week became the first state in the country to submit a request for a waiver to allow for the drug testing of applicants for Medicaid. Gov. Scott Walker's plan would require able-bodied, childless adults to undergo drug screening when applying for benefits. If they fail the test, they would get treatment paid for by taxpayers through the Medicaid program, though no details have yet been released about the type of treatment, where it would be offered or what amount or what kinds of drugs would trigger a failed result. ... some of the poorest people in the state are being targeted by this new plan and would be punished should they decide that the government has no business forcing them to reveal private medical data or undergo treatment that could be offered by religious-based or unproven providers. (Emily Mills, 6/9)

San Antonio Press-Express: Don’t Mess With Texans’ Part D Coverage 
Nearly 1.7 million Texas seniors could lose access to their medications if some members of Congress convince President Donald Trump to sign off on their alterations to Medicare. These lawmakers want the government to directly negotiate the prices of medicines covered by Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, known as Part D. (Betty Lee Streckfuss, 6/11)

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