KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Thoughts On Senate Health Plan Secrecy; Realizing ‘Real’ Medicaid Reform

Editorial writers examine a range of topics related to health system reform.

The Washington Post: Senate Leaders Plan To Rush A Health-Care Bill To A Vote, And There’s Nothing Democrats Can Do About It
When the Republican-led Senate Rules Committee briefly flirted with the idea of restricting television interviews in the hallways of the Capitol last week, it became only the most obvious manifestation of how the party’s leaders were handling the development of a bill to overhaul Obamacare: out of the public eye. While that effort was quickly sidelined after some outcry, the Republican leadership in the Senate was otherwise unfazed in its push to craft a bill that would expose its members to as little negative public attention as possible. No repeat of the town hall meetings that drew angry constituents who yelled at House Republicans and, they clearly hope, no weeks and weeks of swamped office phone lines. (Philip Bump, 6/19)

Los Angeles Times: In Secret Obamacare Repeal Bill, Senate Republicans Plan Even Harsher Cuts To Medicaid Than House GOP
In the all-out quest for ways to strip health coverage from millions of people in order to deliver a huge tax cut to the richest Americans, Senate Republicans have been regarded as more moderate than their House colleagues. But a proposal leaked from the Senate GOP’s closed-door drafting sessions on an Obamacare repeal bill may put that notion to rest: The Senate is contemplating a change in Medicaid that would cut it even more than the $830-billion proposed by the House. That news comes from The Hill, which reported Monday that the Senate is contemplating imposing a lower inflation growth rate on Medicaid, which would be capped in both proposals. The Senate’s idea is to allow Medicaid to grow at the rate of the overall consumer price index (specifically, the CPI for all urban consumers, the most commonly used variant). (Michael Hiltzik, 6/19)

San Antonio Press-Express: Secrecy The Wrong Prescription For Health Care 
After the House passed its repeal and replace effort — the American Health Care Act — without hearings, in secret and without a scoring by the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation moved to the Senate. But there, an all-male committee is crafting a version — you guessed it — without hearings, in secret and accepting no amendments from Democratic senators. (6/19)

WBUR: The Great American Health Care Heist
Last week, more than a dozen patient groups — including the March of Dimes and the American Lung Association — pleaded with McConnell to meet with them. McConnell’s office refused... Unless we wake up and take to the streets, McConnell and his colleagues will do what cynical career politicians have been doing for decades: subvert the will of people in broad daylight and send millions of American families into despair and bankruptcy. (Steve Almond, 6/20)

RealClear Health: AHCA's Medicaid Reform Empowers Governors
Much of the public discussion about health care and health insurance reform abounds with misinformation. Medicaid, in particular, has become a political tool, with daily posts and articles about reforms to the program that distort the record for political gain. But there is little mention of the need to empower governors to take ownership of the program. (Francis Rooney, 6/20)

Louisville Courier-Journal: Senate's Health Reform Must Prioritize Addiction Treatment
Kentucky is in the midst of a catastrophic opioid crisis. We see the damage that heroin and other drugs have inflicted on communities across the state. According to a new poll, one in four adults in Kentucky know someone who has misused prescription pain medication and nearly one in five know someone using heroin. In 2015, 1,273 died from a drug overdose, the third highest death rate in the nation. (Mike Barry and Paul Samuels, 6/19)

The Washington Post: How States Like Kansas Punish The Poor For Being Both Too Poor And Not Poor Enough
Obamacare was designed to make it easier for poor Americans to buy insurance. In many states, though, the law has left a hole where less needy households can receive benefits, while millions of Americans living in poverty cannot. They are, in effect, too poor to get help. It is one of several utterly maddening paradoxes in President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act — which, due to GOP opposition, political gridlock and the Supreme Court, has never been fully enacted in the way Democrats intended. (Max Ehrenfreund, 6/19)

The Des Moines Register: On Health Care, Grassley Can Be A Maverick
Early in his political career, Sen. Chuck Grassley was considered by many to be a "maverick." He earned a reputation as an independent thinker who worked across party lines and focused on solving problems. Unfortunately, that Grassley essentially disappeared during the Obama presidency. Rather than a voice of reason, Iowa’s senator joined a chorus of obstructionist Republicans intent on opposing anything proposed by the president. (6/19)

The Columbus Dispatch: Single-Payer System Has Its Faults
Obamacare looks shaky, mostly because Republicans are sabotaging it. This, in turn, has rekindled calls on the left to create a European-­style “single­-payer” system, in which the government directly pays for every American’s health care. California lawmakers, for example, are considering such a plan for their state. (6/20)

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