KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives On The Evolving Partisan Plans For Obamacare

Opinion writers offer their thoughts, advice and warnings on how to shape the repeal and replace effort.

The Washington Post: Trump Has To Rescue Obamacare Or Admit He’s A Liar
It didn’t take long. During the first week of 2017, the new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s health-care system. Their long-standing goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. At the same time, in the midst of grotesque and growing income and wealth inequality, they’re preparing to allow pharmaceutical companies to increase drug prices and to hand out obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 percent. (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., 1/9)

The Washington Post: Republicans Have No Clue How To Keep Their Promises On Obamacare
Republicans last week kicked off their dominance of Washington by vowing to push through an unpopular and unwise unraveling of the Affordable Care Act, an imperfect law that nevertheless has done much good. Scaling back the policy is “the first order of business,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence promised after a strategy meeting on Capitol Hill. At the same time, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pledged that Republicans would not pull the rug out from under people currently benefiting from the plan. (1/7)

The Washington Post: Republicans Don’t Want To Hurt ‘Real America.’ By Repealing Obamacare, They Will.
Let’s try to get this straight. Donald Trump campaigned as the champion of lower-paid working people who deserve better than they have. Republicans have spent the Obama presidency complaining about high deficits and promising to cut them. And whenever liberals put forward major reforms, conservatives say: No, no, you can’t make radical changes on the basis of narrow partisan majorities. Let’s take it slow and be very careful. They love to cite Thomas Jefferson’s dictum, “Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.” (E.J. Dionne, 1/8)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Republicans, Please Have The Guts To Gut Obamacare
This week, Republicans were all set to gut the House of Representatives' ethics rules. Now, they're supposedly gearing up to gut Net neutrality. They're expected to gut executive department rules related to global warming. They've always wanted to rethink/privatize/fix Medicare, but "gut" fits so much easier in post-Trump election headlines. They've been itching to "gut" the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since the day it was misbegotten. (Kevin O'Brien, 1/6)

Modern Healthcare: GOP Obamacare Replacement Plan Could Prove 'Disastrous'
Republicans seem intent on pursuing a disastrous Obamacare replacement plan that couples catastrophic coverage with subsidized health savings accounts. Such high-deductible plans will make achieving good health much harder for patients. They will raise uncompensated-care costs and thus everyone’s rates. And they will undermine the system’s efforts at delivering better, more cost-effective care. (Merrill Goozner, 1/7)

The Washington Post: Republicans Reach Staggering New Heights Of Hypocrisy
It’s never all that hard to find examples of politicians in either party being hypocrites, accusing their opponents of things they themselves are guilty of or flipping 180 degrees on supposedly heartfelt positions when it looks to be to their momentary advantage. But the Republicans now taking power in Washington are bringing hypocrisy to spectacular new heights. (Paul Waldman, 1/6)

The Washington Post: More Republicans Are Going Wobbly On Obamacare Repeal. Here’s One Possible Reason Why.
Bloomberg Politics reports today that “growing GOP doubts” could “jeopardize swift Obamacare repeal in the Senate.” That’s because more GOP Senators are suddenly going wobbly on the GOP plan to repeal the law on a delayed schedule with no guarantee of any replacement later. As of today, six GOP Senators have signaled real reservations. There are 52 GOP senators, so if they lose only three, repeal-and-delay would go down to defeat — meaning, in Bloomberg words, that right now, there are “more than enough” senators expressing doubt to “scuttle efforts to deliver swiftly on a central promise from President-elect Donald Trump.” (Greg Sargent, 1/6)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Time For Common Sense On Obamacare
Americans woke up Thursday morning to learn that the president-elect of the United States had referred to his rivals in the debate over health care policy as “clowns.” His comments, tweeted, of course, were as classless as they were unhelpful, and they left me wishing the soon-to-be leader of the free world would take two minutes to watch and learn from a video Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) posted this week (Matthew Tully, 1/7)

Stat: ACA Successor Must Have Affordable Insurance For Preexisting Conditions
Republicans in Congress have started the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act despite great uncertainty about what might come next. As cancer survivors in our 30s, we are all too familiar with life’s uncertainties. That is why we are especially attuned to policies that would adversely affect the 22 million Americans who gained coverage under Obamacare, and specifically the 27 percent of the non-elderly adult population with preexisting conditions who would have been excluded from receiving health coverage before the ACA. (Jen Campisano and Ben Fisman, 1/6)

USA Today: Medicare For All Should Replace Obamacare: Column
Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country. ... The problem is that the underlying causes of the cost inflation were left largely untouched by Obamacare. The system remains in the hands of investor-owned insurance companies, drug companies, and profit-oriented providers that can charge whatever the market will bear — and in health care, the market will bear much more than in most sectors of the economy. (Marcia Angell, 1/6)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Kill Obamacare? Might As Well Kill Patients
[Donna] Torrisi is a nurse practitioner who heads Philly-based Family Practice & Counseling Network (FPCN, for short). Through six gleaming nurse-managed health centers, FPCN provides primary health care for 23,000 low-income patients, most of them the working poor...Before the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, was passed, 25 percent of FPCN's patients were uninsured. Because the network treats everyone regardless of ability to pay (it offers a sliding-fee scale), it had to eat a lot of the cost of providing primary, behavioral, dental and preventive care. (Ronnie Polaneczky, 1/9)

Roll Call: There’s Danger For Democrats, Too, In Obamacare Repeal
The reality is that Republicans will need a rescue from Democrats to keep their “repeal and replace” campaign promise. Even though they’ll need just 50 votes in the Senate to strike much of the law, they’ll need 60 votes, including eight Democrats, to put anything else in its place. As of now, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. “They need 60 votes to replace the ACA and Democrats won’t help with replacement,” a Democratic leadership aide told me. ... But as precarious as the situation is for Republicans, there is danger here for Democrats, too. At some point, they will have to decide whether voting for relief for Americans displaced from Obamacare is rescuing Republicans from their political shortsightedness or if it’s rescuing Americans from what Republicans have put into motion. (Patricia Murphy, 1/6)

Chicago Tribune: The Obamacare Endgame: Republicans Risk Chaos If They Repeal Before They Replace The Health Law
Republicans are gearing up to repeal Obamacare — what House Speaker Paul Ryan calls "the first order of business" for the new Congress and the Trump administration. House and Senate committees will be under intense deadline pressure to write legislation before the end of the month that would undercut major pillars of Obamacare as part of a budget bill. Yes, the GOP is in a hurry to rid the nation of Obamacare. (1/8)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Replacing Obamacare With Job-Killing Chaoscare
Like most of the charges that Republicans threw at the Affordable Care Act over the past six years, the accusation that it was a “job-killer” didn’t hold water. In fact, it was just the opposite. But if killing jobs is what opponents want, they can make it happen by eliminating key provisions of the health care law, which studies say could force an estimated 3 million people out of work. (1/8)

The Charlotte Observer: Obamacare Repeal Would Destroy Key Mental Health Protections
This was a pivotal week for healthcare with Congress starting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper moving to expand Medicaid in our state. Regardless of your opinion on these changes, it is true that key parts of the ACA were landmark achievements for people with mental illnesses. These portions of the law are not only working, but they are commonsense, bipartisan solutions to one of our country’s greatest challenges. (Samuel Joshua Dotson, 1/7)

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