KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Rank-And-File Push To Reopen Gov’t, Eye Medical Device Tax Repeal

Some Republicans are moving away from efforts to repeal the entire health law and are turning their focus instead to repealing the health law's medical-device tax and reopening the federal government. In the meantime, Speaker John Boehner is telling members of his party that he will not allow the federal government to default on its debt -- which was slated to be the next big fight on Capitol Hill.

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Group Urges Detente On Health Law
A small but increasingly vocal coalition of Republican lawmakers is urging the party's top brass to stop trying to dismantle the entire health care law, believing the fight is a losing one for their party. On Thursday the group proposed a narrower approach: repeal the health law's medical-device tax and restore funding for federal agencies for the next six months (Peterson, 10/3).

The Hill: Bipartisan Group Calls For Six-Month Funding Bill With Medical Device Tax Repeal
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers say they’d support legislation to fund the government that repealed a medical device tax that's helping to fund President Obama's health care law. The measure was put together by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Charlie Dent (Pa.), one of a handful of House Republicans who has called for moving a clean bill to fund the government (Lillis and Becker, 10/3).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Analysis: In Quest To Scuttle Obama's Health Care Overhaul, GOP Gets Unintended Result
Republicans insisted they wanted to shut down the nation's 3-year-old health care overhaul, not the government. They got the opposite, and now struggle to convince the public that responsibility for partial closure of the federal establishment lies with President Barack Obama and the Democrats. There's ample evidence otherwise, beginning with Speaker John Boehner's refusal to permit the House to vote on Senate-passed legislation devoted solely to reopening the government (10/3).

Los Angeles Times: As Government Shutdown Persists, Focus Shifts To Debt Limit
With the federal government shutdown in its third day, both sides of the dispute that started with a Republican drive to end Obamacare shifted their focus Thursday to the next fiscal deadline: the need to raise the debt limit by mid-October to avoid a default (Mascaro and Memoli, 10/3).

The Washington Post: GOP Aides: Boehner Tells Colleagues He Will Avoid A Default On Federal Debt
With the government shuttered and a deadline for raising the debt limit just two weeks off, anxious Republicans began steering the party away from a dead-end debate about the health-care law and toward discussion of a broader deal to reduce the nation's debt. … In meetings with small groups of rank-and-file lawmakers, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has emphasized that he will not permit the country to default for the first time on its debt. Given that a bloc of hard-line conservatives is unlikely to vote to increase the limit under any circumstances, Boehner has told fellow Republicans that they must craft an agreement that can attract significant Democratic support (Montgomery and O'Keefe, 10/3).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Begins Search For Broad Deal On Budget
Senior Republicans in Congress, frustrated over their inability to strike a deal to reopen the government, began shifting from their drive to undercut the 2010 health-care law, which has been the central element of the dispute, toward a broader budget deal. Unlike the summer 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, President Obama and his administration appear to be pushing for market unrest, with the hope that it will spur Republicans to end the current budget standoff. The new focus comes as Congress is beginning to confront the need to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, which the Treasury said must be done this month in order to pay the nation's obligations (Hook and O'Conner, 10/3).

Politico: Government Shutdown: Democrats Preempt Entitlement Change Talk
Liberal Democrats are already railing against the notion that entitlement programs could be scaled back as part of any grand bargain to end the government shutdown and hike the debt ceiling. At a press conference of the Congressional Progressive Caucus led by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the group said they aren’t waiting to see if the murmurs that it’s a possibility become reality (Gibson, 10/3).

The New York Times: G.O.P. Elders See Liabilities In Shutdown
The hard-line stance of Republican House members on the government shutdown is generating increasing anger among senior Republican officials, who say the small bloc of conservatives is undermining the party and helping President Obama just as the American people appeared to be losing confidence in him. From statehouses to Capitol Hill, frustration is building and spilling out during closed-door meetings as Republicans press leaders of the effort to block funding for the health care law to explain where their strategy is ultimately leading (Martin, 10/3).

The New York Times: Rattled Congress Seeks Way Out Of Its Standoff
Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has initiated conversations with senior House Republicans on a broad deficit reduction deal that would allow some increases to federal programs squeezed by the automatic cuts known as sequestration in exchange for long-term changes to programs like Medicare and Social Security. The package would most likely include instructions to try to move along efforts to simplify the tax code as well. Aides described those talks as "conversations about conversations," not true negotiations, and they favored the term "down payment" on the deficit over "grand bargain" (Weisman, 10/3).

Meanwhile, more news from the pollsters about how the public views the budget battle --

The New York Times: Majority Disapprove Of Shutting Down Government Over Health Law
A wide majority of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences about the 2010 health care law, including a majority of those who oppose the law, according to the latest CBS News poll. Americans are also overwhelmingly dissatisfied, and increasingly angry, with the way things are going in Washington. More than 4 in 10 now say they are angry, up 13 percentage points since March (Sussman, 10/3).

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