KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Perspectives On The Technicalities Of Repealing, Replacing Or Repairing The Health Law

Opinion writers offer their thoughts on a range of issues related to the health insurance marketplace, Medicaid and Medicare.

RealClear Health: Welcome Back To The Medical Underwriting Circle Of Hell
All leading Republicans who are committed to repealing all or key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also emphasize their commitment to maintaining the law’s most popular part: banning pre-existing condition exclusions and medical underwriting by preserving the ACA’s (also known as Obamacare) policy of “guaranteed issue.” But the fine print in Republican proposals betrays that commitment, including legislation filed on January 26 by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) threatening health security for tens of millions of Americans. (John McDonough and William Seligman, 2/15)

The Washington Post: Could The Most Conservative Members Of Congress Save Obamacare?
Try to wrap your head around this possibility: the House Freedom Caucus, the most conservative members of an extremely conservative Republican majority, might be the saviors of the Affordable Care Act. How is such a thing possible? The answer is their devotion to ideological purity, which it turns out may be as disruptive a political force when the GOP is the ruling party as it was when they were the opposition. (Paul Waldman, 2/14)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Senators Show Fundamental Differences On Health Care
I hope many people were able to watch the debate that CNN hosted last week between U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. They spent over an hour fielding questions from spectators and moderators about the present and future of health care in the United States. Sen. Cruz provided a couple misleading answers and suggestions that I believe are worth clarifying. First, he stated that his primary goal in repealing the Affordable Care Act was to remove government from the equation so that health care would be back in the hands of patients and their physicians. As appealing as he makes it sound, removing government-funded insurance would hardly make a dent in the amount of autonomy patients and their physicians have over their health care. (Jonathan Mizrahi, 2/15)

Health Affairs Blog: The Future Of Essential Health Benefits
The Essential Health Benefits (EHB) rule may be among the many parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are on the chopping block as the Trump Administration and Congress seek to repeal and replace the law. Essential Health Benefits, which define what health care benefits plans in the Marketplaces and certain other health plans must cover, go to the heart of what it means to have health insurance and what health care we, as a society, want to ensure people can access. (Ian Spatz and Michael Kolber, 2/14)

The Washington Post: As A Christian, I Defended Obamacare. But I Really Support Single-Payer.
A video of me questioning Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) about how her party will replace the Affordable Care Act went viral last Friday. I had gone to her town hall meeting on Thursday near my home to ask what the poor and sick would do once they’re left without the law’s protections. The next night, I had the really weird experience of seeing myself on national television, and the even weirder experience of hearing and reading other people’s interpretation of my own words. My town hall question has been described as a “Christian defense of Obamacare” and “an impassioned case for the ACA’s individual mandate.” (Jessi Bohon, 2/15)

Sacramento Bee: California Provides Model To Replace The Affordable Care Act 
The new administration and Congress are under intense pressure to craft a market-based alternative to the Affordable Care Act. It won’t be easy. To achieve the financial stability required to make the market work, reformers should heed some important lessons from California. (Leonard Schaeffer and Dana Goldman, 2/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Medicaid Promise
In the midst of the tumult that now grips Washington, it is easy to forget that President Trump has yet to send Congress either a budget or a single piece of legislation. When he does, some longstanding tensions within the Republican coalition are likely to occupy center stage. (William A. Galston, 2/14)

Lincoln Journal-Star: Americans Deserve Their Medicare
AARP believes Medicare is a deal with the American people that must not be broken. That’s why we will oppose proposals in Congress to turn Medicare into a voucher system, which would drive up costs for current and future retirees and erode protections that Americans have earned through a lifetime of hard work and taxes. Unfortunately, in a short-sighted attempt to save money vouchers are being promoted on Capitol Hill as an answer to rising costs. (David Holmquist, 2/15)

The Washington Post: We Created Medicare For The Elderly. Why Not Do The Same For Children?
With all eyes focused on the nation’s health-care system, our leaders have an opportunity to put the health and future of America’s children first. Congress should consider building a tailor-made national health-care plan just for children. Just as we created Medicare for the elderly, we need an approach to pediatric health care that not only provides coverage to every child but also ensures adequate funding for essential services that meet child-specific needs. (Kurt Newman, 2/14)

The Wall Street Journal: The ObamaCare Merger Deathblow
The conceit that the five major commercial health insurers will consolidate to three seems to be dissolving, as four of those insurers called off a pair of mega-mergers on Tuesday. The immediate reasons were legal objections, but perhaps this retreat is a sign of hope for insurance markets. (2/14)

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