GOP Launches New Challenge To Health Overhaul
Republicans are starting a new bid to undermine Democratic attempts at touting a new health law. The GOP effort includes attacks on both President Barack Obama's pick to run Medicare and on claims that implementation is going smoothly.
Politico: "The House's top Republican, John Boehner, questioned assertions made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Congress that implementation is on time or ahead of schedule. And on Thursday, Boehner reiterated his promise to repeal the law, even though Republicans are in the minority in Congress." Republicans had recently "appeared to cool to the idea" of repealing and replacing the law -- a pledge they made immediately after the law's passage -- but now it seems they think they can be successful in such an endeavor. "Democrats, meanwhile, have used that time to flood the media with reports of their work implementing popular pieces of the law early and persuading insurers to follow suit" (Haberkorn, 5/13).
Roll Call: "A group of Republican Senators who played key roles in the yearlong fight over health care legislation met Thursday in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (Ky.) office to discuss the strategy. Under the slogan 'second opinion,' Republicans plan to communicate their message on multiple fronts, including on the Senate floor, in press conferences, via the Internet and through television and radio appearances." Republicans had been planning the messaging since Obama signed the health law, but the GOP has since focused on the financial reform legislation. "Additionally, a component of the new health care campaign involves Republican criticism of Donald Berwick, who President Barack Obama nominated to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. On Wednesday, McConnell and Republican Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah) and Pat Roberts (Kan.) engaged in a colloquy on the Senate floor in which they attacked Berwick's record. Berwick is a doctor and Harvard professor" (Drucker, 5/13).
CongressDaily: The meeting also included "Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Mike Enzi and two doctors, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo. The senators agreed on a general plan to try to take advantage of developments like recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CBO estimates on the cost of the overhaul, which Republicans believe underscore their attacks on the bill while it was on the floor, GOP leadership aides said. ... The Senate Republican Conference also launched a Web site they bill as a collection of articles and links on the bill's impact" (Friedman, 5/14).
The New York Times has more on Boehner's comments: "'Now, I've seen my fair share of propaganda,' he said. 'But this letter must have been written in an alternative universe.' Mr. Boehner was referring to a letter that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, recently sent to congressional leaders. Among other implementation efforts, she noted that rebates for the so-called 'doughnut hole' in Medicare would begin going out next month and that an early retiree re-insurance program would start shortly" (Becker, 5/13).
Modern Healthcare: Boehner sent his own letter to Sebelius "that points to higher cost estimates, job-loss data and a lack of follow-through on an executive order on abortion coverage as key areas of GOP concern" (DoBias, 5/13).