KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 19, 2011

Today's headlines and news coverage offer details about the House health law repeal debate, which started yesterday.

Kaiser Health News: Congress' New GOP Doctors Say Health Law Is Wrong Prescription
KHN staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, report: "Altogether, the 112th Congress has 20 doctors, including five surgeons, five gynecologists, two ophthalmologists and a psychiatrist, according to the AMA. It also has two dentists. Only two of the doctors are Democrats: Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington and Del. Donna M. Christensen of the Virgin Islands. Some of the newly elected doctors won their seats with help from the tea party, which is pressing for smaller government, tax cuts and a repeal of the health law. The doctor-lawmakers offer GOP leaders a valuable asset in hammering the health law and its Democratic supporters, especially President Barack Obama" (Carey and Serafini, 1/19).

Kaiser Health News: Health Law Repeal: The Words Matter
On Tuesday H.R. 2, the Republican-backed bill to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul law, came to the House Floor.  The bill is not expected to come to a vote in the Senate, so this week's House debate is likely to be remembered as purely symbolic.  With members speaking more to the C-SPAN cameras than to each other, the words they choose take on extra significance (1/18).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: House Prepares For Vote On Health Law Repeal
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with KFF's Jackie Judd about the upcoming vote and what might happen after (1/18). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News column: What Repeal Is Not About
In this KHN column, Douglas Hotlz-Eakin writes: "With the House of Representatives poised to vote on the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there has been a flurry of commentary regarding what is at stake. First and foremost, the law itself is not at risk this week. … Despite this, defenders of the law have launched a massive disinformation initiative regarding the vote. So, in the interest of dispassionate evaluation, let us step back for one moment and review the situation" (1/18).

Kaiser Health News column: Repeal And Replace – But Replace With What?
In his latest KHN column, Jonathan Cohn writes: "The Republicans insist they want not just to repeal the Affordable Care Act but also to replace it. But replace it with what, exactly? It's not an easy question to answer" (1/18).

The New York Times: News Analysis: Basic Questions, Elusive Answers On Health Law
As the fight over health care returned to the House floor on Tuesday, the debate could largely be stripped down to four questions that are relatively simple to ask, if not to answer: Will the health care law, approved last year by Democrats with no Republican support, increase or reduce future federal deficits? (Herszenhorn and Pear, 1/18).

NPR: GOP Launches Bid To Repeal Health Care Law
The formal title of the two-page bill the House is scheduled to vote on Wednesday is "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." But in the wake of the recent shootings in Arizona that killed six people and critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the phrase "job-killing" was barely mentioned during the first few hours of debate on the House floor (Rovner, 1/19).

Los Angeles Times: House Starts Healthcare Repeal Debate
With the Tucson shootings as a backdrop, the House began debating a Republican resolution Tuesday to repeal President Obama's healthcare overhaul. Both sides took pains to dial back the heated rhetoric that accompanied passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last year (Mascaro and Levey, 1/18).

The Washington Post: House Begins Debate On Health-Care Repeal With A Collegial Tone
This time around, there were no frightening warnings about "death panels" for the elderly or a "holocaust" of uninsured Americans. Returning to official business Tuesday for the time since the tragedy in Tucson, the House took up a contentious issue certain to test lawmakers' powers of restraint: health-care reform (Murray and Aizenman, 1/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Rejoin Health-Care Fray With Gusto – And An Eye On Civility
The House plunged back into an inflammatory debate on health care Tuesday, as lawmakers sought to convey their passions about the Obama administration's overhaul without overstepping the vague lines of civility drawn in the wake of the shootings in Arizona. Republicans have scheduled a repeal vote Wednesday as one of their first acts since winning a House majority. It isn't expected to succeed, because Democrats control the Senate and the White House, but the vote could set the stage for a more piecemeal remaking of the law (Bendavid, 1/19).

USA Today: House Democrats, GOP Debate Health Care Costs
Both Republicans and Democrats are focused on the financial impact of the health care law passed last March, but there is little agreement beyond that: Republicans say the law will add $701 billion to the deficit in its first 10 years, while Democrats say repealing it will add $230 billion to the deficit (Kennedy, 1/19).

The Washington Post: More Americans Oppose Health-Care Law, But Few Want A Total Repeal
Republican claims that the new health-care law will hurt the country's fragile economic recovery and inflate the deficit resonate with the public, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But few opponents of the law advocate an immediate, wholesale repeal of the legislation (Cohen, 1/18).

Los Angeles Times: Behind The Arguments For Health Care Repeal
In their campaign to repeal the healthcare overhaul President Obama signed last year, Republicans have leveled two sweeping critiques of the new law: its impact on the job market and on the federal budget deficit. Here is a run-down of how some of the rhetoric matches up with reality (Levey, 1/19).

The Washington Post: Debunking Common Myths About Health-Care Reform
"This is a 'government takeover' of the health-care system." Republicans repeatedly use this snappy talking point to bash Obama's crowning legislative achievement, but it is simply not true. In fact, labeled this claim the 2010 "lie of the year," but that has not stopped lawmakers from using it (Kessler, 1/18).

The New York Times: Vocal Physicians Group Renews Health Law Fight
A small professional group of doctors involved in the effort to repeal the new health care law has a history of opposing government involvement in medicine, including challenging President Bill Clinton's attempts to overhaul health care in the 1990s (Meier, 1/18).

Politico: 6 States Join Suit Against Health Reform
Six states are asking to join the most high-profile legal challenge to the health care reform law, bringing the tally up to 26 states (Haberkorn, 1/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Care, Financial Reform Skirt Obama Review
President Barack Obama's government-wide review of federal regulations will have little effect on two of the president's major regulatory victories: an overhaul of Wall Street and the health-care market, according to a White House budget official (Favole, 1/18).

Chicago Tribune: Medicare's Policy On Therapy Comes Under Attack
The federal government is illegally denying thousands of chronically ill Americans needed therapies and medical services, five national organizations charged Tuesday in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Vermont (Graham, 1/18).

Los Angeles Times: US Supreme Court To Decide If California Can Cut Payments To Medi-Cal Providers
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will decide whether to give California and other cash-strapped states more freedom to cut the amounts they pay doctors, hospitals and other providers of medical care for the poor (Savage and Goldmacher, 1/19).

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