Republicans Confront Realities Of Health Overhaul, Position Themselves In CongressThe Christian Science Monitor reports that the health overhaul is resting in the GOP's crosshairs. "The ultimate defense [to the repeal effort] is the presidential veto pen. Even with a new majority in the House come January, Republicans concede that winning a repeal vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely and the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto, well out of reach." Republicans, in "the likely event that repeal fails," will try to repeal parts of the bill instead of the whole thing (Russell Chaddock, 11/15).
But The Hill's Healthwatch blog reports: "Conservative Republicans are worried that Democrats could use the lame-duck session to disable one of their most potent weapons against the healthcare reform law. When lawmakers return this week for the lame-duck session, they'll have to decide on a budget to keep the government's doors open until next year. Democrats could try to pass an omnibus spending bill that funds the healthcare reform bill into the future, making it more difficult for House Republicans to starve the law of cash when they're in the majority next year." Conservatives are standing against such a move to allow a fuller debate of the health law next year (Pecquet, 11/15).
In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning a pro-business lobbying effort that will also target the health overhaul, which it says is hampering the economic recovery. Los Angeles Times reports, "The advertising campaign, called 'This Way to Jobs,' will feature a curved arrow that twists and bends above a list of new rules that are expected to follow passage of the financial services reform bill approved by Congress this year. The ad also refers to the healthcare bill that sets up what the chamber said are a multitude of new agencies, panels and commissions 'with the power to regulate.' In particular, the chamber has pushed for looser interpretation of rules requiring health insurance companies to spend a specified minimum percentage of the premiums they collect from customers on coverage of medical claims starting next year" (Hamburger and Levey, 11/15).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops defended his group's opposition to the health overhaul "arguing the overhaul will allow backdoor taxpayer subsidy for abortion. The law walled off federal funds from being used for abortion, and an executive order signed by Obama just before it passed reaffirmed existing prohibitions on government-financed abortion. Still, the bishops and other anti-abortion activists contend that neither would actually prevent tax money from being used." The law allows federal subsidies to be used for health insurance premiums that pay for abortion only in cases of rape or incest, and health plans operating in new markets that will be regulated by the government can choose to cover abortion but must segregate money collected from consumer premiums to do so. "The language was a compromise, since most private insurance plans currently cover abortion. But abortion opponents argue the separation of funds is a distinction without a difference" (Zoll, 11/15).
Politico: As freshmen lawmakers made their way into Washington yesterday, a new Republican representative turned heads by "demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in. Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland's Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in." A spokeswoman said "Harris, who is the father of five, wasn't being hypocritical he was just pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care" (Thrush, 11/15).
Finally, Fox News reports that potential Republican presidential candidates are already positioning themselves using health reform for the 2012 race. They include former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who helped pass a health overhaul in his state when he was governor there. "'Romneycare' was one of his main selling points when he ran for president in 2008, but in the years since it passed, it has turned out to be more and more expensive and less and less popular. Now, with the passage of President Obama's signature health care law on the books, Romney's plan appears to be his biggest liability among Republican voters." For his part, Romney says his health overhaul and Democrats' is very different. "'Ours is a state solution to a state problem within the rights of the constitution. Obamacare is a federal intrusion of power taking over the rights of states and the rights of families, the rights of doctors. It is a massive abuse of constitutional power. And for that reason I think it needs to be repealed and we need to do a better job to get health care reform in a way that makes it work more like a market,' he told Fox News' Sean Hannity" (11/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.