KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives: The Senate GOP Health Bill Appears To Have Collapsed… But What Could Happen Next?

Editorial pages parse the breaking news late Monday night when two more Republican senators announced their opposition to the measure. What has gone wrong? What paths could go forward? And what issues remain in play?

The New York Times: In Congress, Obstructionists Are Obstructing Themselves
Republican legislative leaders are in a bind. While they appear to have failed for now in their goal of destroying the Affordable Care Act, their eagerness to shower tax breaks on the wealthy at the expense of health coverage for millions of Americans has crimped their ability to pass other fiscal legislation. (7/18)

The Washington Post: Is Trumpcare Finally Dead?
Perhaps the two “no” votes from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would have been enough to sink the GOP health-care effort. Senate Republicans and virtually all political watchers have been cultivating a sense of suspense — who would be the third “no” vote? — when in fact there are likely, according to Collins, many more “no” votes (eight to 10, she said in TV interviews Sunday). Then a very public and simple barrier to passage emerged — Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) undetermined recuperation time. With two “no” votes already clinched, Senate GOP leaders could not even pretend to have sufficient support without McCain (who actually might be a “no” vote in the end). Now comes perhaps the death knell for Trumpcare: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) both announced their opposition Monday night. (Jennifer Rubin, 7/17)

RealClear Health: The Disturbing Process Behind Trumpcare
Since I came to Washington in 1969, I have been immersed in Congress and its policy process. I have seen many instances of unpopular bills considered and at times enacted. I have seen many instances of bills put together behind closed doors. I have seen bills enacted and repealed after a public backlash. I have seen embarrassing mistakes in bills, and lots of intended consequences. (Norm Ornstein, 7/17)

Los Angeles Times: Is Rand Paul's Opposition To The GOP Health Bill Principled, Or Cynical?
Thhe greatest trick any politician can pull off is to get his self-interest and his principles in perfect alignment. As Thomas More observed in Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons,” “If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly.” Which brings me to Sen. Rand Paul, the GOP’s would-be Man for All Seasons. Paul has managed to make his opposition to the GOP’s healthcare bill a matter of high libertarian principle. The fact that the bill is terribly unpopular in his home state of Kentucky — where more than 1 out of 5 Kentuckians are on Medicaid — is apparently just a coincidence. (Jonah Goldberg, 7/18)

McClatchy: The GOP Is Bungling Obamacare Repeal, And Democrats Could Be The Winners
The Republican Party in Congress could be on the verge of losing the 2018 midterm elections 16 months before they happen. Since 2010, the GOP has been vowing and planning and stunting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that transformative legislative Frankenstein that Democrats crammed through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote. (Andrew Malcolm, 7/18)

The Wichita Eagle: Enough Flim-Flam: Move On Now To Solve Health Care Puzzle
When the Senate majority leader wields the possibility of bipartisanship as a threat and dismisses massive cuts to Medicaid as a shell game, you know it’s time to move on. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s desperate scramble for one or two more votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has actually reached those moral depths. And it isn’t working for congressional Republicans, let alone the American people. (Dave Merritt, 7/18)

Los Angeles Times: How I Got Caught In The Crossfire Between V.P. Pence And Ohio Gov. Kasich Over Medicaid
At the National Governors Conference on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence took Ohio Gov. John Kasich to task in a speech attacking the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Pence presumably had two goals. The first was to silence Kasich, the loudest voice among GOP governors opposed to congressional Republicans’ efforts to drastically roll back Medicaid as part of their ACA repeal plans. The second was to justify that rollback by claiming that the Medicaid expansion eroded services for the program’s traditional beneficiaries, including the disabled. (Michael Hiltzik, 7/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Return Medicaid To Its Rightful Role
Rolling back ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion has become the focal point of the health-care debate, and rightly so. Without fundamental change, Medicaid—expanded or not—will push state budgets to the brink even as it fails to help the most financially vulnerable Americans. Consider Oklahoma, our home state. Despite intense lobbying by hospital corporations, the state Legislature stood strong and refused the Medicaid expansion. But the Medicaid rolls increased anyway, and at a dramatic cost to priorities like education, public safety and transportation. (Frank Keating and Doug Beall, 7/17)

Bloomberg: HSAs Can Show The Way To Bipartisan Health Reform
The Senate Republicans’ latest plan to overhaul Obamacare includes a significant expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), but exacerbates a key longstanding problem: HSAs provide significant tax benefits to those Americans who need the least help. That provides an opening for bipartisan compromise. Democrats and Republicans could find agreement on creating “equitable HSAs” -- that is, HSAs that are subsidized more equally for everyone -- to reform the healthcare system. (Samuel Estreicher and Clinto Wallace, 7/17)

Bloomberg: Taxing Hospitals Is A Lousy Way To Fix Health Care
Before Obamacare passed, we were bombarded with statistics about the uncompensated care that hospitals provide. The numbers were large -- in the tens of billions -- and the implication was that this was something of a national emergency. Certainly it was one very good reason to pass the Affordable Care Act, so that hospital budgets wouldn’t groan under unpaid bills, and the people getting care could be sure that they wouldn't get turned away at the hospital door. (Megan McArdle, 7/17)

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