GOP Lawmakers Push Health Law Investigation, Democrats Consider Revisions And LegacyThe Associated Press: GOP lawmakers are considering using their new posts in powerful House committees to "go after President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, and they're focusing on questions uppermost in the minds of consumers: What's it going to cost me? Can I keep the coverage I have if I like it?"
"In the House, they'll control three major committees with a mandate to poke around on health care, subpoenas available if needed. In the Senate, they'll have added leverage on two key panels, so their demands can't be easily ignored. Republicans say they'll focus on what the new health care law will mean for Medicare and employer health plans, mainstays of the middle class." Republicans will still likely want to make changes to the law to make it better if they can't have a full repeal of the law. A full repeal is unlikely to pass both chambers and would likely be vetoed by President Barack Obama anyway. GOP lawmakers are apt, however, to call in both Medicare director Donald Berwick and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to give testimony on the health overhaul (11/09).
In an interview with NPR, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., talked about the health law's effect on the election. "I think part of the problem we face here is there's such cynicism about the work that's being done, and we can't allow ourselves to become cynical about this. For better or for worse, and whether it's unfair or fair, the burden of the reform, in the end, lies on the shoulders of the reformer. And in the context of health care, if you don't do a good job of explaining it on the front-end, people can make up things like death panels as ways of defeating the reform" (Montagne, 11/9).
CBS News: Bennet, who is fresh off a stiff battle for his seat, said that the Senate will likely also keep working on the health overhaul. "'I think we didn't do enough the first time around on cost containment. There's more to be done there, to change the Medicare incentive structure.' Bennet sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, one of the Senate panels responsible in large part for shaping the original package of reforms, which passed in March" (Condon, 11/9).
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "The Colorado senator won a tough reelection race last week in which he was targeted for his support of healthcare reform and other parts of the president's agenda. Like many of the Democrats who escaped defeat last Tuesday - like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen.-elect Joe Manchin (W.Va.) - Bennet called for revisiting a bill that weighed heavily on many of his party's candidates at the polls. Bennet proposed an amendment he'd previously submitted that would require lawmakers to find other sources of revenue for the new health system if some of the savings in the legislation don't pan out as projected" (O'Brien, 11/9).
MedPage Today: And one influential Democrat in the House, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., says the health law won't be repealed. "Waxman predicted that the Republicans' 'relentless, well-funded, ideological' dispute over the Democrats' healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will drag out over the next two years. Waxman declared that 'Congress did the right thing when we enacted reform,' and that last week's 'disappointing, but not surprising' election did not change his view on reform. 'Enactment of health reform was one of most important acts of Congress since Social Security,' Waxman added. 'It will always be one of my proudest achievements in Congress'" (Walker, 11/9).
Politico: Other insiders, in the meantime, quietly spent to support candidates during the midterm elections. "The drug industry spent at least $25 million protecting its friends in Congress this year, but PhRMA chief John Castellani doesn't really want to talk about it. The trade group was instrumental in several close Democratic Senate contests, spending millions to successfully protect embattled Majority Leader Harry Reid and seven figures to help Sen. Patty Murray of Washington win. And though the group spent more helping Reid than any other member of Congress, its total spending was split about evenly between Democrats and Republicans, knowledgeable industry sources told Politico" (Frates, 11/10).
Bloomberg News/The Seattle Times, on the GOP's budget plans and efforts to cut spending: The chief of the National Institutes of Health said a Republican plan to cut spending would be "devastating" to researchers and drug development in America. "Republicans taking control of the House next year would roll back funding to agencies including NIH to fiscal 2008 levels, according to a proposal by Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican who is likely to become House majority leader, the No. 2 job. That would equate to a 4.3 percent, or $1.3 billion, cut to the agency's $30.8 billion annual budget. The reduction would be 'very devastating' and demoralize scientists, who may see their odds of winning a research grant from the agency fall to about 10 percent, NIH Director Francis Collins said Tuesday in Washington. Currently, fewer than one in five grant proposals are successful, he said" (Wayne, 11/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.