KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House GOP Eyes Prevention Trust Fund As Means To Pay For Student Loan Plan

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a Friday vote on the proposal, which some news outlets describe as a "bitter pill" for Democrats.

The New York Times: Two Parties Find A Way To Agree, And Disagree, On Student Loan Rates
Republicans were equally indignant at what they saw as game-playing, saying that they, too, want to forestall the rate increase. They quickly tried to outmaneuver the president. Late Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Boehner hastily called a news conference to announce that the House would vote Friday on a student loan bill that seemed to take shape just as suddenly. The proposal would extend the current interest rate for federal student loans for one year. The $6 billion cost would be offset by eliminating the remainder of the money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a portion of the health care law (Baker and Steinhauer, 4/25).

The Associated Press: Political Battle Over Student Loans Heating Up
Democrats and Republicans alike say they want to prevent the cost of federal loans from ballooning for millions of students. But the effort has evolved into an election-year battle each side is using to embarrass the other and spotlight its own priorities to voters. In the latest political chess move, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, scheduled a House vote for Friday on legislation preventing the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling as scheduled on July 1. In a bitter pill for Democrats, the measure's $5.9 billion cost would be paid for with cuts from President Barack Obama's health care overhaul bill (Fram, 4/26).

The Washington Post: Republicans Announce House Vote To Keep Student-Loan Rates Steady
Congressional Republicans on Wednesday announced their opposition to a Democratic proposal to pay for extending low rates for college loans by imposing new payroll taxes on some small businesses. Instead, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House would vote Friday on a proposal to hold the interest rates steady — offsetting the $6 billion cost with a cut in a health prevention fund created under President Obama’s health-care law (Helderman and Kane, 4/25).

Los Angeles Times: Student Loans, Violence Against Women Act Spur Fights In Congress
The looming confrontations on both issues show how hard it is for Republicans — or Democrats, for that matter — to compromise in this highly contentious environment, even when doing so would arguably be in their political interest. Although Republicans say they support keeping student loan interest rates low, they oppose the tax hike on higher incomes proposed by Democrats to pay for it. Instead, they want to pull money from Obama's healthcare programs. Republicans also are unveiling an alternative to the Violence Against Women legislation (Mascaro, 4/25).

The Hill: Democrats Oppose Health Cuts In Boehner's Student Loan Bill
Democrats quickly panned House Speaker John Boehner's proposal to pay for a student loan bill by cutting into President Obama's healthcare law. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House will vote Friday on a proposal that would block a major increase in student loan interest rates, which he plans to offset by cutting the healthcare law's prevention fund (Baker, 4/25).

Reuters: U.S. House To Vote On Student Loan Rate Extension
The Republican-led House of Representatives, in an election-year showdown with President Barack Obama, moved on Wednesday to avert a doubling of a low-federal student loan rate by taking money from Obama's healthcare overhaul. House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the proposal and announced that his chamber would vote on it on Friday - after Obama on a campaign-style tour pushed Congress to take action to preserve the low rate for millions of students (Ferraro, 4/25).

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, a plan is taking shape to restructure health benefits for future postal service retirees.

The New York Times: Senate Passes Plan To Give Postal Service Fiscal Relief
Perhaps most significant, the bill would restructure the payments the agency makes into a health benefits fund for future retirees. Under a 2006 law, the agency has to pay $5.5 billion annually into the fund, which the Postal Service said had added $20 billion in debt to its balance sheet since 2007 (Nixon, 4/25).

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