KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: GOP Can No Longer Wait For Obamacare ‘To Implode;’ Ryan’s Version Of ‘Trickle-Down Economics’

The New York Times' The Conscience Of A Liberal: A Big Biden Deal
Now that Obamacare has finished with an amazing surge in signups, apparently passing the 7 million mark for the exchanges, there have been two main responses. Republicans are in full-on denial — the books are cooked! Nobody has paid! It’s only because people have been forced to do it! Benghazi! Vince Foster! Meanwhile, progressives are full of caution. It's just a start, we don't know how well this will work in the longer run, too soon to celebrate. The right-wing reaction is, of course, ludicrous. But the cautious progressives are being too cautious. This really is what Joe Biden would have called a Big Frothing Deal, or something like that. The key question you need to ask is, what would make Obamacare fail if it did fail? (Paul Krugman, 4/1). 

Bloomberg: Stop Waiting For Obamacare To Implode
But it's clear now that one scenario with a lot of purchase among conservative opponents of Obamacare -- that the law would "implode," "collapse" or "unravel" -- is highly unlikely. A quick death spiral was always a remote possibility, even if the early troubles of the exchange websites made it look a little less remote. Many congressional Republicans wanted to believe the idea, though, especially because they viewed it as one more reason they could avoid coming up with their own health-care agenda (Ramesh Ponnuru, 4/1).

Bloomberg: Want Obamacare Answers? Get In Line.
It's impossible to say for sure, of course, but I think that the people who signed up in the last few days will be systematically different from the earlier groups. ... allow me to speculate a bit about the ways that they probably differ. Start with what we know about these people: They waited until the last minute to sign up. This tells you that a lot of them will fall into one of a few groups: 1. People who are incredibly disorganized. 2. People who are so financially pinched that it was important to wait until the last minute so that they could pay eight months' worth of premiums instead of 12. 3. People who are young and healthy enough to make acquiring insurance less than urgent (Megan McArdle, 4/1).

Fox News: Real Health Care Reform: Give States The Tools, And Let Them Do The Job
They're practically the first words out of one's mouth the second a Washington reporter hears about a new health reform proposal: "How many people does your plan cover?" The basic premise of the America Next health plan I'm endorsing today is simple: "I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care. The problem is they can't afford it." In short, I agree with Barack Obama. Of course, Barack Obama circa January 2008—when he uttered those words in opposition to a health insurance mandate -- represents a far cry from the Barack Obama who signed ObamaCare into law in March 2010 (La. Gov. Bobby Jindal, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Hidden Hit On Businesses
President Obama's promise that Americans could keep their health insurance if they liked it was the most infamous of the Affordable Care Act's sketchy sales pitches. But many of the law's most damaging aspects are less known, buried in thousands of pages of regulations (Bernie Marcus, 4/1). 

The Wall Street Journal: The ObamaCare Copperheads
Yet for months the Health and Human Services Department has refused to disclose crucial contextual data, such as how many insurance contracts are in force, the market-by-market totals and how many beneficiaries were previously covered. Regardless of your partisan sympathies, the White House's selective disclosure is a crime against transparency and accountable government. Then there are the 12 Democratic Senators up for re-election who each cast the decisive 60th vote for ObamaCare. They're acting as if the law is still a political threat, and presumably their polls say as much. The ObamaCare Dozen have tried to create an alibi by saying the plan isn't perfect but mend it don't end it. They've now proposed some concrete fixes, and they must think their constituents aren't paying attention (4/1). 

Los Angeles Times: Obama Says ACA Sign-Ups Surpass 7 Million; Twitterverse Reacts
This afternoon President Obama, with a grinning Vice President Biden behind him, announced in the White House Rose Garden that sign-ups for his signature health law had exceeded original projections. Some 7.1 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare, the president said, by far exceeding the revised projection of 6 million insured after the disastrous roll out of the website in October (Robin Abcarian, 4/1). 

And in commentaries on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal -

The New York Times: Mr. Ryan’s Faith-Based Budget
Medicare would become a voucher program by 2024 for those now 55 and younger, allowing them to choose between a fixed payment for private insurance and the traditional plan. The problem with this idea, revived from past Ryan budgets, is that traditional Medicare wouldn't stay unchanged for long because it will attract the sickest patients and become so expensive that most people would be driven to the private plan. The spending cuts in that plan would quickly make it inadequate. Mr. Ryan would make exactly the same $700 billion in cuts to Medicare that Republicans have ridiculed Democrats for making to pay for health care reform. But, of course, he would repeal the health law and has no particular concern about the 13 million people who would no longer be covered under the law's Medicaid expansion (4/1). 

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan The Anti-Robin Hood: Robbing The Poor To Help The Rich 
Well, in a nutshell, here's Ryan and the Republicans' vision, per my colleague, Lisa Mascaro: "House Republicans will return to the core ideas from Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, that have come to define the party's approach: Cut federal spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that make up the federal safety net, while reducing top individual and corporate tax rates to 25%, which Republicans argue will spur economic growth." Holy Ronald Reagan! The Gipper may be gone, but his trickle-down economic notions are alive and well (Paul Whitefield, 4/1). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Ryan Priorities
Paul Ryan laid out his House budget outline on Tuesday, which is already more than Senate Democrats plan to do this year. Passing a budget is a core part of governing, and it's also an obligation under the 1974 Budget Act, but Democrats plan to cruise through the general election on December's budget deal and not let the voters in on their future plans for taxes and spending (4/1).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: Paul Ryan's Unrealistic Path To Prosperity
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the House budget committee chairman, just released his latest "Path to Prosperity." This one is for fiscal year 2015. As many have noted, this latest iteration is similar to previous paths to prosperity unveiled by the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and perhaps future chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means tax-writing committee. And it kills the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which renders it a non-serious fiscal blueprint (Jonathan Capehart, 4/1).

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