Republicans Maintain Calls For Repeal As Health Reform Reverberations Continue
The Hill: House Republican Leader John Boehner said Monday that repealing the new health care law will be Republicans' "'No. 1 priority' ... if [the GOP] wins back control of Congress this fall. Republicans have talked up a strategy of 'repeal and replace' in the weeks since health reform became law, promising to act to repeal swaths of the new law, and replace them with reforms for which the GOP had pushed throughout the healthcare debate" (O'Brien, 4/12).
Politico: Meanwhile, "Health Care for America Now, the progressive coalition formed in the summer of 2008 to lay the groundwork for passing reform legislation, has decided not to pack up its tent and go home just yet. In the short term, the coalition will focus on shaping reform's political narrative as both advocates and critics scramble to frame the issue ahead of November's elections, which will have a significant impact on reform's prospects" (Frates, 4/13).
CQ Politics: Abortion continues to be an issue in the race to succeed Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, who is retiring. "Stupak's push to include strict language to prohibit federal funding of abortion put him at the center of the national debate on the issue and ultimately contributed to the burnout that led to his retirement announcement on Friday. It also earned him the enmity of progressive women's groups and abortion-rights advocates, who have rallied behind former Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall (D), an abortion-rights proponent who was challenging Stupak in the primary before his exit from the race." She will likely face antiabortion Democrat Michigan state Rep. Joel Sheltrown in the primary. Republicans are also likely to put up a few challengers (Cadei, 4/13).
Politico, in a separate story: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that voters in his state have thanked him for helping pass the health care reform bill. "Reid laid out the case for what he believes are the law's many benefits, from closing the Medicare 'doughnut hole' to expanding coverage for twenty-somethings who now will be able to stay on their parents' health care plans" (Shiner, 4/12).
The Salt Lake Tribune: In Utah, Republican Sen. Bob Bennett "has drawn fire from GOP challengers and right-wing groups for offering a health reform bill with similarities to the new law championed by President Barack Obama. But a prominent Republican is now coming to Bennett's defense, saying the Utah senator deserves to be re-elected, not ridiculed, for his health reform alternative." David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter said Bennett is "[t]he person who understands these issues best in the Republican Senate caucus" (Canham, 4/12). Editor's Note: The Salt Lake Tribune story does not mention that the bipartisan Bennett-Wyden bill was originally introduced in 2007 and is not under consideration now.
Finally, the Service Employees International Union president, Andy Stern, will step down after being a central figure in the health reform fight in Congress, The Washington Post reports. Stern was "often at the forefront of fighting for items high on his membership's agenda ... [but] Stern, along with the leaders of the AFL-CIO, has so far failed to fully capitalize on the Democratic takeover in Washington. The unions' top priority, legislation to make it easier to organize workers, is stalled, and unions conceded on several of their top priorities in the health-care debate" (MacGillis, 4/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.