KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Health Policy Perspectives: McConnell Says Voters ‘Spoke Loudly’ On Repeal; Medicare’s Stake

Opinion writers offer their thoughts, advice and warnings on how to shape the repeal and replace effort.

Fox News: ObamaCare Failed Americans. Now It's Time For Relief
Americans continue to call for ObamaCare’s repeal. They spoke loudly again this November, and about 8 out of 10 favor changing ObamaCare significantly or replacing it altogether. We in Congress hear you, and we have already begun to act. ... We’re acting quickly because ObamaCare is collapsing under its own weight, and things will continue to get worse otherwise. That doesn’t mean the law will end overnight. There will be a stable transition period .... We plan to take on this challenge in manageable pieces, not another 2,700-page bill like ObamaCare. Some Democratic Senators have mused publicly about their role in that process. I hope they’ll work with us. We want their ideas to improve our health care system. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 1/9)

Chicago Tribune: Republicans Risk Chaos If They Repeal Obamacare Before They Replace It
Republicans are gearing up to repeal Obamacare — what House Speaker Paul Ryan calls "the first order of business" for the new Congress and the Trump administration. House and Senate committees will be under intense deadline pressure to write legislation before the end of the month that would undercut major pillars of Obamacare as part of a budget bill. Yes, the GOP is in a hurry to rid the nation of Obamacare. (1/9)

Los Angeles Times: Repealing Obamacare Could Be A Matter Of Life Or Death For Many Americans. Here Are Their Voices
For Julie Ross, the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act isn’t an abstract political issue. It’s a life-or-death matter for her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, who was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition and spent her first month in the neonatal intensive care unit. In the pre-Affordable Care Act era, when insurers could impose lifetime limits on benefits, hers was $500,000. “She would have reached that in her first two weeks,” Ross says. (Michael Hiltzik, 1/9)

The Washington Post: Republicans Are Over-Promising Again On Health Care
Many right-wingers — some who decided to champion the ideologically nihilistic President-elect Donald Trump — claim their anger at the GOP’s “establishment” has been fueled by its “betrayal” of the base.  In the right-wingers’ telling, they were led to believe that electing a GOP House and Senate majorities would get rid of Obamacare. Aside from a failure to identify any such definitive promise, their narrative makes no sense. Did they really think President Obama would ever sign such a thing? (They could only be betrayed if they had no clue how the legislative process works.) (Jennifer Rubin, 1/9)

The New York Times: The Fight For Health Care Has Begun
Now it’s the left’s turn to use public opinion, and the stakes in the next fight are bigger than the House ethics office. Even before Trump becomes president, Congress is taking steps to deprive millions of people of health insurance. Democrats in Congress should do everything they can to thwart the effort. And if you’re one of those people who despaired after last year’s election — who wondered whether facts still mattered and whether there was anything you could do — you should get involved, too. How? I’ll get to that in a moment. (David Leonhardt, 1/10)

RealClear Health: Medicare Cannot Be Used As America's Health Care Piggy Bank
In the current drive to “repeal and replace” the ACA, designers must be careful not to add to the burden of hospitals and clinics by ignoring the significant cuts to Medicare Democrats issued to make the ACA budget numbers work. The challenging economics of hospitals and physicians are being made even more difficult by the changes to Medicare mandated by the ACA. According to the National Center for Health Policy Analysis in a 2015 article, “21 percent [of physicians] are not accepting new Medicare patients.” But while a physician can opt out of Medicare or private insurance plans, a hospital cannot. (Rich Galen, 1/10)

Forbes: Which Tom Price Will Be Advising Donald Trump On Medicare?
Georgia Congressman Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, is a bundle of contradictions when it comes to Medicare. ... Here is where Price’s views start to fight with themselves. While he’d change Medicare in ways that would increase consumer demand for managed care, he seems to oppose many of the consequences of that change. For instance, has been an outspoken critic of many of Medicare’s efforts to control health care costs. ... He has strenuously opposed efforts by Medicare to shift from fee-for-service medicine to a system that pays for quality, low-cost outcomes rather than volume. (Howard Gleckman, 1/9)

Vox: Today In Obamacare: I Used To Think Obamacare Repeal Was For Sure. 2 Things Changed My Mind.
One month ago, as the surprise of the election wore off and the reality of a Republican-controlled Washington sunk in, I would have predicted that Obamacare repeal was a foregone conclusion. Republicans have spent six years promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They have maintained incredible party unity on the issue, not wavering even as millions of people gained coverage. Legislators quickly moved to make it their first agenda item in Congress. The matter felt settled. Except today, a month later, it doesn’t feel settled at all. (Sarah Kliff, 1/9)

The Washington Post: What Do You Hate Most About The Health System? Republicans Will Make It Worse.
As they try to stop Republicans from repealing the Affordable Care Act, Democrats have a few central arguments they’re making to explain why repeal would be so catastrophic, none more vivid than the simple fact that Republicans plan to kick somewhere between 20 million and 30 million Americans off their health coverage. This argument has the benefit of being true, and unlike many of the details of health reform, relatively easy to understand. So how are Republicans responding? With two arguments, both of which are meant to prey on people’s confusion and the complexity of this issue. Once you strip away the deception, both those arguments also reveal just how disastrous it will be if they succeed in their plans for the American health care system. (Paul Waldman, 1/9)

Vox: There Is No “Terrific” Replacement For Obamacare
Donald Trump likes to say he’s going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with “something terrific.” Sadly for everyone, that’s probably not possible. What is possible is repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something that makes a different set of equally painful trade-offs. Price’s plan, to its credit, is clear about its trade-offs. It costs less than the Affordable Care Act but covers far fewer people, and the people it does cover get much stingier insurance. (Ezra Klein, 1/9)

Sacramento Bee: Trump, Republicans At Odds Of Dealing With Provisions In Obamacare
Trump promised to guarantee coverage to all, not cut Medicaid and preserve protections for those who have pre-existing conditions. If he does all of that, he will be repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something that changes the name but not the program. That may be what he has in mind, but it’s not what his closest allies and advisers have said they intend to enact. (Daniel Weintraub, 1/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare Debate: Where GOP Governors Stand On Repeal And Replace
As the Republican Party’s debate over repealing and replacing Obamacare focuses on the Senate, the views of Republican governors have received little attention and will be important to watch. This group doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health law, and will want to support the Republican effort to repeal and replace it. But for many of the governors the interests of their states could run counter to two central elements of the repeal and replace plans. (Drew Altman, 1/10)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Obamacare Repeal Good For Kentucky
Under Obamacare, many have learned that having health insurance isn’t the same as actually having health care. Many Kentuckians have been forced into plans their doctors won’t accept with the cost of premiums and deductibles so high that they fear they can’t afford to get sick. These aren’t the results Kentuckians wanted. These aren’t the results Obamacare promised. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 1/9)

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