KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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For GOP, Political Incentive Is ‘As Much Of A Reason As The Substance’ To Pass Repeal Bill

The driving force behind this last-ditch attempt for many lawmakers it the simple fact that they promised their constituents they'd make it happen. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is once again in the spotlight with one of the deciding votes. And news organizations look at where other Republicans stand on the matter.

The Associated Press: Republicans See Political Necessity In Health Care Effort
It's divisive and difficult, but the Republican drive to erase the Obama health care overhaul has gotten a huge boost from one of Washington's perennial incentives: Political necessity. In the two months since Senate Republicans lost their initial attempt to scuttle President Barack Obama's statute, there's fresh evidence GOP voters are adamant that the party achieve its long-promised goal of dismantling that law. This includes conservative firebrand Roy Moore forcing a GOP primary runoff against Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., who's backed by President Donald Trump, and lots of money, plus credible primary challenges facing Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Nevada's Dean Heller. (Fram, 9/21)

The Washington Post: Ready To Deal This Time? Alaska’s Murkowski Is In The Health-Care Spotlight. Again.
Lisa Murkowski walked briskly down a cavernous hallway on the first floor of the Capitol, awash in a small sea of reporters. Suddenly she paused, seemingly overcome by the pressure of the moment. “You guys — hold,” the Republican senator from Alaska said curtly. “Give me breathing room, please. It gets a little intense. I know you guys don’t feel it, but it’s like, whoa.” Another effort to replace the Affordable Care Act is underway, and in Washington that means one thing: Murkowski is at the center of it all — under the glare of the national spotlight and squarely on the minds of White House officials and Senate Republican leaders who are strenuously seeking her support. (Sullivan, 9/20)

The Hill: The Two Senators Who Will Likely Decide Fate Of ObamaCare Repeal
All eyes are on Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) as Republicans try to approve a new ObamaCare repeal bill in the next 11 days. The two were among the three Republicans who sank the last GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare, and President Trump and his allies probably can’t afford to lose either if they are to win a vote next week. (Hellman, 9/20)

Roll Call: Republicans Cast Aside Previous Concerns In Latest Repeal Effort
Republican senators face the prospect of retreating from their previous public stances in order to support fast-moving legislation that would significantly overhaul the U.S. health care system. Concerns about the impact on people suffering from opioid addiction, drastic cuts to Medicaid and the lack of robust analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office appear to have vanished as the GOP hopes to advance a bill to repeal the 2010 health care law before the fast-track budget reconciliation mechanism they are using expires on Sept. 30. Lawmakers say any concerns are addressed by the state flexibility included in the proposal. (Williams, 9/20)

Politico: The Unlikely Group Who Brought Obamacare Repeal Back To Life
Senate Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare rests on the unlikely collaboration of a veteran senator who can’t stand health policy, a wonky freshman who has never passed major legislation and a former senator who lost his seat a decade ago. Together, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum crafted the latest GOP repeal bill in hopes of delivering on the party’s seven-year-old campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. (Haberkorn and Bade, 9/21)

Roll Call: Analysis: Why Ryan Has Stepped Into the Senate Health Care Debate
So if Ryan wanted to “reserve judgement” and give the Senate space on health care in July, why is he not doing so now? One answer is likely because senators didn’t want Ryan to stay quiet on the issue. When the Senate was getting ready to vote on the skinny repeal bill, several senators said they would have a hard time voting “yes” without knowing whether Ryan would actually agree to go to conference. ... Senators’ need for assurances on what the House will do may also be why Ryan told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Graham and likely other senators that a bipartisan market stabilization plan that Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking Democrat Patty Murray had been negotiating is not a viable health care solution for House Republicans. (McPherson, 9/21)

Politico: Christie Says He Opposes Graham-Cassidy Bill
Gov. Chris Christie said on Wednesday that he opposes the latest Senate plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, deeming it “too injurious” to New Jersey. “I oppose Graham-Cassidy because it is too injurious to the people of New Jersey,” Christie told reporters standing outside an addiction treatment center in Somerset County. “I’m certainly not going to support a bill that takes nearly $4 billion from people in the state.” (Jennings, 9/20)

Bloomberg: Christie Opposes Senate GOP Health Bill
Under the latest Republican bill, states could get a waiver allowing insurers to charge people more if they or a dependent have a pre-existing condition, or if they get sick and want to keep their insurance. The key provision in the bill has vague language requiring a state to first show how it "intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions." (Dennis and Kapur, 9/20)

The Hill: New Mexico Gov: GOP Healthcare Bill 'Still Needs Some Work'
New Mexico’s Republican governor is not yet persuaded to support the latest GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare. “While it’s encouraging that Congress is working on a healthcare solution, the governor is concerned this bill could hurt New Mexico and still needs some work,” a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez told The Albuquerque Journal. (Shelbourne, 9/20)

Arizona Republic: After Call From Trump On 'Obamacare,' Ducey Endorsed Latest GOP Effort
President Donald Trump phoned Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Saturday to discuss Senate Republicans' latest effort to repeal "Obamacare." Two days later, the Republican governor used Trump's favored social media platform — Twitter — to announce his support for the legislation that would represent a key victory for the president and Capitol Hill Republicans. (Wingett Sanchez, 9/20)

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