KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints On Health Law: GOP’s Time Crunch; The Need — And Strategy — For Bipartisanship

Opinion writers offer their analysis of the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over health care.

The New York Times: Congress Is Facing A Time Crunch To Repeal Obamacare
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, told his Republican colleagues that they needed to vote on their health bill before the July 4 holiday — then he gave them an extension. But don’t expect the health care debate to drag on forever. There are legal and political reasons that Republicans really do need to decide in the next few weeks whether their legislative effort will succeed or go back on the shelf. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 7/10)

Vox: McConnell Should Let The Senate Try To Craft A Bipartisan Health Bill
"Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or the markets will continue to collapse and we'll have to sit down with Senator Schumer," McConnell warned. ... This is the opposite of how legislative efforts are typically constructed. Usually you try for a bipartisan outcome first and resign yourself to a partisan outcome only if that fails. McConnell has reversed this structure. A partisan bill is his preferred result, and a bipartisan process is his threatened fallback. Welcome to American politics in 2017. (Ezra Klein, 7/10)

The New York Times: Health Reform, Both Real And Conservative
The American health care system has two core problems. It’s the world’s most expensive, and it still leaves many people uninsured. Congressional Republicans have not tried to solve either problem. They have instead offered a plan that cuts spending on the middle class and the poor, funnels the money into a tax cut for the affluent and masquerades as health policy. (David Leonhardt, 7/11)

Huffington Post: Why A Bipartisan Health Care Bill Might Make Sense — For Republicans
When [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] raised the possibility of bipartisanship last week during a town hall meeting, he seemed to be wielding it as a threat ― a warning, to reluctant members of his caucus, that failing to coalesce behind leadership’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be tantamount to failure. The threat might work. For all the talk about the Senate bill being on “life support,” and despite poll numbers that suggest it is the most unpopular piece of legislation in three decades, the bill remains just a few votes short of the 50 it needs to pass. (Jonathan Cohn, 7/10)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Can We 'Delight In Compromise' Once More?
As the Senate Republican majority struggles to coalesce around a replacement for Obamacare, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using a novel threat to motivate them: Pass something or, horrors, negotiate with the Democrats. On Capitol Hill, what should be common sense — working together to solve common problems — now exists only as a cudgel to batter lawmakers into passing unpopular legislation. (7/10)

Los Angeles Times: More Evidence Shows Obamacare Is Getting Healthier, But Will That Stop The GOP Wrecking Crew?
Data in a new report issued Monday confirms that the Affordable Care Act market stabilized in the first quarter of this year, becoming more profitable for insurers offering individual policies. That’s good news for the millions of Americans who depend on Obamacare for their health coverage. But it may be bad news for congressional Republicans whose insistence that the ACA marketplace is collapsing in a “death spiral” undergirds their efforts to repeal the law. (Michael Hiltzik, 7/10)

USA Today: Senate GOP Health Bill Preserves Medicaid. The Math Proves It.
In 1994, President Clinton declared, “We all now, looking ahead, know that our number one entitlement problem is Medicare and Medicaid. They are growing much more rapidly than the rate of inflation plus population.” At that time Medicaid was just 5.6% of the federal budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Now it is 10% of the federal budget and growing. The Republican Medicaid reform plan builds on exactly the point President Clinton was making. It contemplates reducing the growth rate of Medicaid reimbursements by the federal government to the rate of overall inflation plus the growth in the number of Medicaid beneficiaries. Only in the never-never land of Washington budget accounting and the news media’s reporting on it would something that grows with both inflation and population be considered a “cut.” (Pat Toomey and Lawrence Lindsey, 7/10)

The Washington Post: Why Replacing Obamacare Is So Hard: It’s Fundamentally Conservative
In crafting their health-care plan, Republicans have come to the uncomfortable realization that there simply isn’t much room to the political right of Obamacare for a policy that covers as many people with high-quality insurance. Furthermore, many have realized that there isn’t much political will for a bill that covers meaningfully fewer people or that places low-income individuals in insurance plans with cost-sharing elements they can’t afford. (Craig Garthwaite, 7/10)

Real Clear Health: Senate Obamacare Debate Is About Money, Not Compassion
A new government report explains why Republicans, after nine years of opposing Obamacare, are having such a hard time repealing it. The answer: It’s pretty much about the money. It’s not about providing Medicaid coverage to low-income adults. Some moderate Republicans who profess concern for the needy are actually trying to shift more of the cost of providing them Medicaid coverage from their states to the federal government. They’re holding out for more federal cash for their states. And they just might get it – from Senate Democrats. (Doug Badger, 7/11)

The Washington Post: C’mon, Republicans. It’s Time To Do The Right Thing On Health Care.
When they went home for the July 4th recess, Republican members of Congress did one of two things: Either they met with constituents and were pummeled with angry questions about their disastrous health-care bill, or they hid out, trying to avoid their constituents so that they wouldn’t be pummeled with angry questions about their disastrous health-care bill. Predictably, support for the bill among Republican senators is slipping away, which is not surprising given that this is the most unpopular piece of legislation in the history of polling. (Paul Waldman, 7/10)

The New York Times: Republicans Take A Hatchet To Health Care
The latest Republican plan to overhaul the health care system would eliminate insurance coverage for millions of their own constituents, which should greatly concern senators who support the bill. An analysis by the Urban Institute shows how states will be affected by the Better Care Reconciliation Act .... The plan will be particularly devastating for the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. More than 14 million people gained health insurance under the expansion. The legislation would phase out the expansion. (Vikas Bajaj and Stuart A. Thompson, 7/7)

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