KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Support For Health Overhaul Down; GOP Asks Kagan If She Would Recuse Herself From Cases On New Law

CBS News: Support for the new health reform law has dropped seven percentage points in the last two months, though it remains higher than when the law was first signed in March. "Forty-nine percent of Americans now disapprove of the health care reform measure, according to the poll, which was conducted July 9-12. Thirty-six percent support the law. In a May CBS News poll, 47 percent disapproved of the new laws, while 43 percent approved. While the new poll shows a recent drop in support, the numbers have still improved overall since March, when 53 percent of Americans disapproved of the new laws and 32 percent said they approved of them." Most Republicans and independents disapprove of the overhaul while most Democrats support it (Condon, 7/13).

The Wall Street Journal: In the meantime, GOP senators have asked Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to recuse herself from consideration of a challenge to the health reform law if such a question comes before the high court. "Kagan, the solicitor general, represents the Obama administration before the Supreme Court. She has said she would decline to participate in deciding cases that she worked on but has not said whether that includes a challenge to the health care law. Constitutional questions about the health care law, including its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or face a fine, were raised in the months before President Barack Obama nominated Kagan to the court. Several states have filed suit to try and stop it." Kagan has said she has not expressed an opinion on the merits of the health reform legislation (Meckler, 7/13).

Roll Call: Republicans also are considering "retaliatory measures in response to President Barack Obama's decision to use a recess appointment to install Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ... Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the appointment of Berwick during the July Fourth recess period a 'truly outrageous' political move. The Kentucky Republican declined to specify what Republicans might do in retaliation, but Senators in his inner circle suggested some action was forthcoming." Republicans also took to the Senate floor again Tuesday to express criticism of the appointment (Drucker, 7/14).

In other political news, CQ HealthBeat reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "rejected charges by Republicans that a Medicare brochure mailed out to beneficiaries earlier this year was inaccurate and misleading." The brochure, Sebelius said, helped inform Medicare recipients of changes to the health system in health reform. In a letter to eight Republican senators, Sebelius said the brochure was an important "educational tool" (Norman, 7/13). 

Retiring Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., has given money to colleagues running for office "who helped him in his high-profile push for restrictions on abortion funding in the health care bill," Politico reports. "Since announcing his retirement in April, Stupak has cut campaign checks for Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus, Indiana Reps. Joe Donnelly and Baron Hill and Pennsylvania Reps. Chris Carney and Kathy Dahlkemper - all of whom joined Stupak in negotiating with leadership for tighter limits on federal support for abortion. Stupak also donated to West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan, another abortion opponent who lost reelection in a May Democratic primary. That whole group of Democrats eventually voted for the health care reform bill, after President Barack Obama agreed to sign an executive order clarifying that no federal money would be used for abortion procedures under the law" (Isenstadt, 7/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.