KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Overhaul Foes Set Lobbying Strategy As Health Law Turns 3

Reuters reports that medical device makers, health insurers, retailers and restaurants are coordinating efforts to get Senate Democratic support for overturning major portions of the law. Meanwhile, other news outlets examine some of the challenges the administration faces to implement the law by the end of the year.

Reuters: Opponents Mark Obamacare's Third Anniversary With Lobbying Surge
Eight months before President Barack Obama's health care law goes prime time, a confederation of industry and business groups is ramping up its lobbying apparatus for an 11th-hour assault on the web of new taxes and regulations. Medical device makers, health insurers, retailers and restaurants are waging what lobbyists call a coordinated effort to gain Senate Democratic support for overturning $130 billion in taxes that will be used to fund the new law, and repealing a mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for full-time workers or pay a fine (Morgan, 3/24). 

The New York Times: Tight Deadlines And Lagging Funds Bedevil Obama Health Care Law
It was another turbulent week for President Obama’s health care law. Congress rejected a White House request for nearly $1 billion to carry out the law, even as federal responsibilities increased to include the supervision of insurance markets in more than half the states. Then, on Friday, Republican attacks on the law continued in the Senate, where Democrats beat back Republican proposals to repeal the law and many of its tax increases (Pear, 3/22). 

Politico: Will Americans Ever Love Obamacare?
All through the Obama years, backers of the Affordable Care Act have lifted their spirits with a consistent refrain: Just you wait. Someday, the law's backers insisted, Obamacare will make the transition from a divisive idea to a widely popular one, from a program that many people still find confusing and scary to a familiar and comforting part of American life. This weekend, which marks the third anniversary of the law’s passage, one thing remains clear: Someday has not yet arrived, and may not for a long time (Millman and Norman, 3/23). 

The Hill: Obama Health Law Faces Big Challenges On Third Anniversary
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spent the past week touting the law’s benefits ahead of its third anniversary on Saturday. But HHS still faces a steep climb to fully implement the law — and sell it to a skeptical public. HHS officials say they absolutely will meet the biggest and most imposing deadline — having new insurance exchanges up and running in 27 states by Oct. 1, to begin enrolling people in coverage that will take effect Jan. 1. Building an exchange, even in one state, is an incredibly complicated task (Baker, 3/23). 

The Hill: On Third Anniversary, Obama Touts Health Law's Benefits
President Obama on Saturday touted his landmark healthcare reform law on its third anniversary, but cautioned that there was "more work to do to implement" its provisions. ... But he acknowledged that he would need to work with Congress to continue to curb medical costs and extend coverage. ... Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Saturday said the Democrats had "rammed" the bill through Congress three years ago and that its promises “"proving more empty by the day" (Mali, 3/23).

NPR: At Age 3, Affordable Care Act Is No Less Controversial
Sebelius said the department would have to make the best of the fact that it did not get the additional funding it sought in the recently passed budget bill that will fund the government — and HHS — for the remainder of the year. "It's always a difficult situation when the resources are not there at the front end," she said. "I think we are in the process of redoing budgets and looking at ways we can make this effort work. Because, as the president said, this is a top priority. We want everything to be up and running, so we will figure out a way to move forward." But even as the administration and its partners work to ready the new health exchanges for an Oct. 1 rollout, opponents are not giving up, either (Rovner, 3/23).

The Washington Post: Obamacare's Five Biggest Challenges
Obamacare still faces a slew of obstacles but, unlike those in the past year, these are ones where the Obama administration and its allies have significant sway over whether the law succeeds or fails. The next year will be a vexing one for the Obama administration, and one of the most important. This is when, after years of painstaking preparation, the Affordable Care Act is supposed to deliver on its main promise: expanding health coverage. This is when we’ll see whether a few million Americans gain insurance — or tens of millions do. Here are some of the bigger obstacles that the law will face in its fourth year (Kliff, 3/23).

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