KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Though Lawmakers Cite Progress, Current-Year Spending Deal Still In Play

If lawmakers fail to reach agreement on the 2011 budget, the government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Federal agencies have contingency plans in place in the event this happens. Media outlets report that Medicare and Medicaid would operate normally in the short run. Meanwhile, considerable discussion continues regarding what the political fallout will be and whether the public will hold Democrats or Republicans accountable.

Los Angeles Times: Some Progress Cited In Federal Budget Talks
Even as the public bickering continued, there was progress behind the scenes on details of the spending reductions, and negotiators planned to work through the night. But House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), juggling his own political pragmatism with the conservative convictions of the GOP majority, has refused to yield to a public compromise with Democrats. … Obama said additional sessions may be needed, and added that a failure of talks, leading to a government shutdown after midnight Friday, would adversely affect the country. … Conservatives are demanding deeper spending cuts as well as sweeping policy changes in order to reach a deal (Mascaro and Nicholas, 4/7).

The Washington Post: In Budget Fight, Conservatives Have Put Themselves In A Corner
They are the strongest voices against a budget compromise: the conservative Republicans who have said they won't accept a deal with Democrats on spending cuts, even if that means a government shutdown. On Wednesday, some of them began to signal, without quite saying it, that they had put themselves in a bind (Fahrenthold and Gardner, 4/6).

The Hill: King: CR Last Chance To Defund Health Care Reform
The fight over a bill to fund the government through 2011 is the last chance this year to block major funding for Democrats' 2010 health care law, said a Republican congressman who is leading defunding efforts. With lawmakers trying to hammer out an agreement on a spending bill before the current stopgap measure expires April 8, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said the budget fight offers Republicans their last major leverage point to choke off health care reform funds. King had previously said the upcoming debt-ceiling vote could offer the GOP another defunding opportunity, but he said Wednesday afternoon that lawmakers won't be able to unite behind a defunding effort (Millman, 4/6).

NPR: Brief Federal Shutdown Wouldn't Faze Medicare Or Medicaid
If the current budget standoff on Capitol Hill leads to a shutdown of the federal government on Friday, recipients of the Medicare and Medicaid health programs won't have to worry. At least not for a while (Rovner, 4/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Government Shutdown Would Shutter Much Of HHS, But Not Medicare
If federal funding isn't extended beyond April 8, a government shutdown would bring a halt to many Health and Human Services Department operations - but health care services would continue to be funded under the Medicare program, a senior Obama administration official said Wednesday. The clinical center at the National Institutes of Health would not take new patients, nor would new clinical trials begin, but current NIH-funded clinical trials would continue (4/6).

The New York Times: Federal Departments Lay Out Plans In The Event Of A Government Shutdown
With the possibility of a government shutdown looming, Obama administration officials raced Wednesday to identify essential government services that would have to be provided if the government ran out of money (Pear, 4/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Shutdown Holds Risk For GOP
With Congress and the White House in marathon talks to try to avoid a government shutdown, Republican lawmakers are caught between the demands of their conservative base insisting they hold their ground on deep budget cuts and the wishes of political independents they will need in the 2012 election who are pressing for compromise, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds (Weisman and King, 4/7).

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