KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

IRS Controversy Fuels Republican Health Law Opposition

Just as the House took its 37th vote to repeal the health law, largely along party lines, the Republicans held their first hearing on the IRS's tax-exempt and government-entities division. Several media outlets report that Sarah Hall Ingram, who led the division when the questioned operations began, is now in charge of the branch overseeing implementation of parts of the health law.

The New York Times: Congressional Hearings On IRS Scandal Set To Start
Joseph Grant, commissioner of the I.R.S.'s tax-exempt and government-entities division, announced Thursday that he, too, would be leaving in the next month. But Republicans jumped on news Thursday evening that Mr. Grant's predecessor, Sarah Hall Ingram, who led the division when the targeting operation began, is now in charge of the I.R.S. division overseeing implementation of parts of the president's health care law. Ms. Ingram's name did not appear anywhere in the inspector general's report of the program, nor had Republicans singled her out for criticism until now. But Republicans were eager to link the I.R.S. scandal with their opposition to the health care law (Weisman, 5/17).

Politico: Obamacare Repeal Now About The IRS
Republicans have hated Obamacare for years, and on their 37th repeal vote Thursday, they found a reason to hate it even more: the IRS. They've warned about its role in Obamacare before, but this time, they used its targeting of conservative groups as a fresh warning about how it might apply the law to the rest of the country. It’s the IRS, after all, that will enforce the individual mandate that most of the country already hates. And if the IRS can’t shake its image as a political tool of the White House, any conservatives who get hit with an Obamacare penalty are certain to cry foul (Samuelsohn and Cunningham, 5/16).

Fox News: IRS Official Who Oversaw Unit Targeting Tea Party Now Heads ObamaCare Office
The IRS official who led the tax-exempt organizations unit when Tea Party groups were targeted is now in charge of the IRS office responsible for ObamaCare, two Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The acknowledgement comes after the administration announced that the official’s successor Joseph Grant -- who had only been on the job a few days -- would be retiring. And it fueled criticism of the agency, as the outgoing IRS commissioner prepared to face lawmakers’ questions at a hearing Friday morning (5/17).

The New York Times: House Votes Again To Repeal Health Law
For many Republicans, this was one of the major reasons for coming to Washington in the first place. And they were not going to miss their chance — whether it was their 37th time voting to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul, or their first (Peters, 5/16).

Los Angeles Times: House Republicans Repudiate Obama Healthcare Program - Again
House Republicans voted for the 37th time Thursday evening to repeal all or part of President Obama's healthcare law, underscoring once again the deep partisan divide over the landmark 2010 legislation. The bill to roll back the entire Affordable Care Act passed 229 to 195, with just two Democrats crossing the aisle to join the GOP. No Republicans voted against the legislation, which is assured of going nowhere in the Senate (Levey, 5/16).

The Hill: House Votes To Repeal ObamaCare
The House voted to repeal ObamaCare on Thursday for the third time since Republicans took over the chamber in 2011. Only two Democrats sided with Republicans in the party-line 229-195 vote — Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.). All Republicans voted in favor of repeal (Kasperowicz, 5/16).

The Washington Post: House Votes To Repeal Obamacare For 37th Time
This vote does not put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. Thursday's repeal bill will probably meet the same fate as five others that would have eliminated the entire health-care law: It will die in the Democrat-led Senate. But for the GOP, the point was not to change the law. At least, not right away. Instead, the point was to refocus the House — and, hopefully, a swath of the American public — on a law that remains controversial three years after it was passed (Fahrenthold, 5/16).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Freshman Republicans Get Chance To Vote Against Health Law
More than 70 freshmen Republicans had pushed House Speaker John Boehner to give them a chance to go on the record in opposing the 2010 law, and many of them made short speeches in the several hours of debate preceding the vote (Radnofsky, 5/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House GOP Pushes Full Repeal Of Obama’s Health Care Law – 37th Vote To Scale Back Or Kill It
One more time, with feeling! The Republican-led House voted yet again Thursday to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, knowing full well that won’t stop it. Only months away from the rollout of coverage for uninsured Americans, it was the 37th attempt in a little more than two years by House Republicans to eliminate, defund or partly scale back the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic-led Senate and the president will simply ignore the House action, which came on a virtual party line vote, 229-195 (5/16).

Reuters: U.S. House Votes To Repeal Obamacare In 37th Symbolic Act
The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law on Thursday in a symbolic move aimed as much at healing internal Republican rifts as demonstrating dogged party opposition to "Obamacare." The 229-195 vote occurred largely along party lines and marked the 37th time the House has voted to repeal or defund the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is now in the final months before full implementation on January 1 (Morgan, 5/16).

USA Today: Obamacare: 3 Years In, It Faces Steep Challenges
The Affordable Care Act is sure to survive the latest vote by the House of Representatives Thursday to repeal it — since the Senate doesn't plan to take it up and President Obama would veto a repeal bill if it somehow reached his desk — but the administration's signature legislative achievement still faces serious perils ahead (Page, 5/16).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Yes, The 37th Obamacare Repeal Vote Matters
It's easy to write off these votes as pure political spectacle with no substantial meeting. Members of Congress can tell their constituents that they voted to repeal Obamacare and move on to other issues. But there's actually a compelling case on the other side, that these actions do really matter in a substantive way. This slew of three dozen repeal votes have changed both how the Affordable Care Act works and how the public perceives it (Kliff, 5/16).

Politico: John Boehner: No Timetable For Obamacare Replacement
House Speaker John Boehner was noncommittal on when — or even if — Republicans would put a bill on the floor to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law…Republicans offered replacements to the Affordable Care Act when they were in the minority. And the Pledge to America — their promises to voters when they took the majority in 2011 — clearly stated that they would “repeal and replace the government takeover of health care.” They’ve passed some bills that would do that (Sherman, 5/16).

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