KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House GOP Considers Attaching Defunding Provision To Stopgap Measure To Prevent Shutdown

A vote could take place next week, which adds to concerns about the likelihood of a government shutdown. Also in the news, some Republicans are floating alternative strategies to help avert this drastic outcome.

Los Angeles Times: Despite Shrinking U.S. Deficit, House GOP Eyes Government Shutdown
The federal deficit has shrunk to its lowest level since 2008, according to a report released Tuesday, but House Republicans will begin the next budget battle this week with a vote that threatens to shut down the federal government unless President Obama agrees to halt his healthcare law (Mascaro, 9/17).

Bloomberg: Republicans Weigh Defunding Health Law, Avoiding Shutdown
House Republican leaders are considering including a proposal to defund President Barack Obama's health-care law in a stopgap measure to finance the U.S. government, according to lawmakers and a congressional aide. Leaders will discuss a list of options at a meeting with House Republicans scheduled for tomorrow morning at the Capitol (Tiron, 9/17).

The Associated Press: AP Sources: A Revised GOP Attack On 'Obamacare'
Moving on to Plan B, House GOP leaders appear likely to give tea party lawmakers a chance to use a routine temporary government funding bill to try to muscle the Democratic-controlled Senate into derailing President Barack Obama's health care law. It's a strategy fraught with political risk for Republicans, who could find themselves bearing the blame for any partial government shutdown that results from an impasse with the Senate (Taylor, 9/18).

CNN: Obamacare, Spending Showdown Heats Up In House
House Republican leaders are considering a vote this week on a short-term spending bill to keep the government running and defund Obamacare, according to senior House GOP aides, a move that increases the possibility of a government shutdown. House Speaker John Boehner and other top House GOP leaders have been struggling to avoid a showdown over the health care law spearheaded by President Barack Obama and funding legislation that needs approval before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 to avoid a shutdown (Walsh, 9/17).

Some Republicans are developing alternative strategies -

Fox News: New GOP Strategy Looks At Delaying Obamacare
Faced with a politically risky push by some Republicans to defund ObamaCare, other party members are turning to an alternative strategy: delay it instead. Republicans are divided on how to confront the Affordable Care Act. Some, such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, are pushing to permanently defund it. But attaching such a measure to a resolution that funds the government after Oct. 1 runs the risk of a government shutdown if it doesn't pass. If that happens, Republicans fear they would be blamed (Angle, 9/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Conservatives Unveiling Alternative To 'Obamacare' With Bigger Tax Break For Consumers
A large group of House conservatives intends to unveil legislation providing an expanded tax break for consumers who purchase their own health coverage and increasing the government funding for high-risk pools, according to lawmakers who said the plan marked the Republicans' first comprehensive alternative to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul (9/18).

CBS News: Ahead Of Major Obamacare Rollout, Politicking Continues
Three years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act -- and two weeks away from the rollout of a key portion of the law -- politicians on Capitol Hill are still debating Obamacare alternatives and amendments and using the law as a campaign issue. The conservative Republican Study Committee on Wednesday is unveiling a bill designed to repeal and replace Obamacare, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The committee has been working on the legislation for months, and they're announcing it just as Republicans have ratcheted up conversation about dismantling Obamacare as part of ongoing budget discussions (Condon, 9/18).

Meanwhile, there are other squabbles shaping up in regard to the health law -

Politico: GOP Vs. GOP In Hill Obamacare Squabble
A new GOP vs. GOP battle is brewing over Obamacare — this time, over health care coverage for lawmakers and their staff. A growing number of Republicans are scoffing at Louisiana Sen. David Vitter’s push to stop federal contributions that will help pay for health coverage for lawmakers and their staff under the new Obamacare exchanges. Vitter’s crusade has effectively put his GOP colleagues in the unenviable position of hurting themselves and their staff financially or siding with another political attack on a law the party universally despises (Raju and Haberkorn, 9/18).

And, when it comes to campaign trail politics, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is still in the hot seat -

The Hill: McConnell Punts On Shutdown Solution
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday declined to take sides in the squabble among House Republicans over a government shutdown. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tried to convince his colleagues to support legislation that would keep the government open after Oct. 1 while forcing the Senate to vote on defunding ObamaCare (Wasson, 9/17).

Politico: Mitch McConnell Gets Support On Obamacare
An outside group boosting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to go up with TV ads lauding him for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, POLITICO has learned. The nonprofit Kentucky Opportunity Coalition plans to spend $325,000 on a week’s worth of commercials running statewide, a strategist told POLITICO (Burns, 9/17).

The Washington Post: Boehner Agonistes (Again)
But the political right has applied serious pressure on [Speaker John Boehner] to use the negotiations to try to defund Obamacare. ... But by passing a bill that defunds Obamcare, House leaders would shift pressure to the Democratic-controlled Senate to either 1) Follow suit or 2) Demonstrate once and for all that it simply will not pass a bill that defunds Obamacare. "This puts the pressure on McConnell now," said one Republican working on the Defund Obamacare movement who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. "This whole effort started in the Senate with [Sen.] Mike Lee, so now that Boehner is going to allow the vote to happen, presuming he does, McConnell will have to decide whether to fish or cut bait. I think he'll fish" (Sullivan and Blake, 9/18).

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