KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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‘Political Punt’ Or GOP’s Best Chance: Attention Shifts To Skinny Plan As Other Options Fail

The plan would roll back only a few of the Affordable Care Act's provisions, but in such a divided Senate, it might be Republicans' only hope of getting something passed.

The Associated Press: GOP Eyes Narrow Bill To Advance Goal On 'Obamacare' Repeal
They couldn't pass a repeal of "Obamacare," or find the votes for a White House-backed replacement. So now Senate Republicans are lowering their sights and trying to unite behind a so-called "skinny repeal" that would merely undo just a few of the most unpopular elements of Barack Obama's law. The "skinny bill" is an admittedly lowest-common-denominator approach, and it may not even have the votes to pass, either. But as Republicans search for how to keep their years-long effort to repeal and replace "Obamacare" alive, they're coming to believe that the "skinny bill" may be the only option left. (Werner, 7/27)

Politico: 'Skinny' Obamacare Repeal Still Lacks Votes To Pass
Even a bare-bones repeal of Obamacare is no sure thing in the Senate. A handful of key Republican senators who had spurned earlier overtures from GOP leadership endorsed the latest plan to gut Obamacare’s individual and employer coverage mandates and its medical device tax. But several centrists said they’re undecided on the so-called skinny repeal, leaving the GOP in limbo through at least the end of the week. (Everett, Haberkorn and Kim, 7/26)

Boston Globe: Senate GOP Fails In Obamacare Repeal, Setting Up Bid To Chip Away At Some Rules
The impact of the new proposal has not been measured by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office or formally presented to the American public, but the office has said similar ideas would result in 15 million fewer people having health insurance and increase premiums. Despite the unknowns, some Senate Republicans were already backing the proposal Wednesday as a means of salvaging a slim political victory. (Herndon, 7/27)

The Washington Post: GOP Momentum Grows For More Modest Plan To Overhaul Obamacare
Top Republicans such as Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chamber’s third-ranking Republican, said that although leaders have not yet found “the sweet spot” between conservatives and centrists, they had picked up support for a more modest plan because it did not include deep cuts to Medicaid. Some Republican senators were simply open to any legislation that could keep alive the roller-coaster push for an overhaul. (Eilperin, Snell and Sullivan, 7/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate GOP’s Fallback Plan Gains Support After Vote To Repeal Health Law Fails
Republican senators said they recognized passing a “skinny repeal” would essentially postpone tough decisions on health care until later, but they seized on it as potentially their best option as the Senate this week began considering and rapidly discarding other plans, with no alternative appearing likely to attract the 50 Republican votes needed to pass. (Peterson, Hackman and Armour, 7/26)

Los Angeles Times: Running Out Of Options To Overhaul Obamacare, Senate Republicans Ponder A 'Skinny' Repeal
"I’ve got to think about moving things along to get to conference to hopefully get a good product," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who viewed the skinny alternative as a step toward something more comprehensive. On Wednesday, GOP senators spent another frustrating and fruitless day debating and rejecting possible approaches. After voting down their leaders' most comprehensive overhaul plan a day earlier, Republicans rejected another long-standing GOP idea on Wednesday: to simply repeal most of Obamacare. (Mascaro, 7/26)

San Francisco Chronicle: Republicans See A Narrow Path To Health Care Repeal
A razor-thin Senate vote Tuesday to begin the health care debate gave Republicans an opening to pass a stripped-down “skinny repeal” by the end of the week that would repeal mandates in the current law on individuals to buy insurance and most employers to provide it, and a tax on the sale of some medical devices. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price described the approach as finding the “lowest common denominator” of what Senate Republicans can pass with the 50 votes they need, along with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. (Lochhead, 7/26)

CNN: Health Care Debate: Senate Vote-A-Rama And The 'Skinny Bill'
The Senate will enter the home stretch of a dramatic debate to overhaul Obamacare on Thursday, with lawmakers bracing for what could be a long and grueling marathon series of votes that extends well into the night and morning. And the text of the GOP plan -- what is expected to be a so-called "skinny bill" that rolls back Obamcare's individual and employer mandates -- remains unseen by senators or the public. (Lee, Fox, Barrett, and Mattingly, 7/27)

Bloomberg: GOP Promise To Torch Obamacare Veers Toward Bare-Bones Repeal
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned that the passage of a "skinny repeal" alternative is a gambit to get Senate and House Republicans together in talks on a broader replacement plan. “There is no such thing as ‘skinny’ repeal,” Schumer said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “It’s a ruse to get to full repeal, with all the concomitant cuts to Medicaid and tax breaks, which are so unpopular and which so many of my Republican colleagues here on the other side have opposed.” (Litvan and Kapur, 7, 27)

If the legislation does pass, it will next go to conference with the House, where more changes and fights are expected —

The Washington Post: The Senate’s Possible ‘Skinny Repeal’ Of Obamacare Faces Skepticism In The House
Some in the Senate have suggested that the downsized bill would represent a bridge to a conference committee, where the two chambers would meet to resolve their differences. But House Republicans who fought tooth and nail over the course of months earlier this year to expand the scope of the repeal legislation are saying “fat chance” to the skinny repeal — including key members on the conservative and moderate ends of the GOP — and say it is difficult to see what legislative product could span the divide between the chambers. (DeBonis, 7/26)

The Hill: Bare Bones Repeal Plan Gains Steam In Senate
One House GOP lawmaker close to leadership said it's possible the House could stay in until Saturday to pass the skinny repeal bill, which would mean skipping a conference committee. But the lawmaker said the course had not been decided. (Sullivan and Weixel, 7/26)

Politico: House GOP Wary Of ‘Skinny’ Repeal
House Republicans say they understand the complicated intraparty dynamics of the Senate, where several moderate GOP senators don’t want to repeal Obamacare without replacing it. Yet they privately worry that a number of vulnerable House Republicans have already taken tough votes — cutting $800 billion from Medicaid, for instance — that their Senate GOP colleagues refuse to support, exposing those House members to serious political jeopardy in November 2018. (Bresnahan and Haberkorn, 7/26)

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