KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Policy Perspectives: Congress Should Make A Priority Of Community Health Centers; If Capitol Hill’s ‘Health Care Standoff’ Continues, What Happens Next?

Editorial writers examine a range of health policy issues that are in play at the federal and state levels.

The Des Moines Register: This Health-Care Program Has Bipartisan Support — Seriously
As we’ve witnessed over the last couple of months, health care can be one of the more divisive political issues that any policymaker has to address. As Congress continues to debate ways to move our system to one that’s focused on patient needs — with greater access, higher quality and lower costs — there’s one program that works and has had bipartisan support for nearly 50 years: the Community Health Centers program, or CHCs. With critical CHC funding set to expire at the end of September, Congress needs to prioritize action to maintain and build on this success story. (Theodore J. Boesen Jr., 9/27)

Detroit Free Press: Where Does Washington's Health Care Standoff Leave Michigan?
So it's official: The latest version of Nobamacare is dead. I speak of the Graham-Cassidy bill (also known as the Repeal Obamacare Now or So Help Us God We'll Shoot John McCain's Dog Act), which failed to gain the backing of Republican holdouts after a Congressional Budget Office analysis pointed out that that it would leave medical coverage of some low-income Americans intact. (Brian Dickerson, 9/28)

Bloomberg: Trump, Health Care And A Violation Of Ethics
There are basically two points to make here. One is that deliberate actions by the administration to dissuade people from getting the health insurance available by law, or to make it more difficult, are monstrous, and essentially without precedent. Barack Obama, upon inheriting a war he didn't support, did not choose to deliberately lose it. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush inherited plenty of liberal programs they didn't support, but they didn't try to undermine them at the expense of the American people. ... The other point is that this remains a kind of politics that is, on a practical level, unlikely to have the effect the administration wants. Of course, the strongest Republicans will be eager to blame Democrats for anything that goes wrong (just as the strongest Democrats will blame Republicans). But for weak partisans -- for swing voters, that is -- bad news will almost always lead to reduced support for the incumbent party. (Jonathan Bernstein, 9/28)

Modern Healthcare: Repeal And Replace Isn't Dead Yet
Don't kid yourself. We haven't heard the last of repealing and replacing Obamacare. The GOP's latest attempt to undermine the law failed because three Republicans, the bare minimum, had enough sense to oppose legislation that would create chaos throughout one-sixth of the U.S. economy. ... You can't scream "repeal and replace" for seven years and then fail to deliver. It makes every Republican incumbent vulnerable to extremist challengers in next year's primaries. (Merrill Goozner, 9/26)

The Charlotte Observer: A New Tax Is Coming That Will Hike Your Health Care Premium
It’s possible that you haven’t heard much about the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) that was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, but you will unless Congress acts. On behalf of our state’s leading business and trade groups, we are raising the alarm about this imminent threat, which is set to return in 2018 and which insurance companies will have to account for in a few weeks when they begin announcing premiums for 2018. (Dave Simpson, Lew Ebert, Larry Wooten, Gary Harris, Tim Kent, Lynn Minges and Andy Ellen, 9/28)

Bloomberg: MassHealth Drug Waiver Plan Could Shake Up Pricing 
Massachusetts' Medicaid program MassHealth earlier this month asked the federal government for permission to refuse to pay for some drugs, potentially reducing its costs and improving its negotiating position with drugmakers. This is just one Medicaid program in one state. But other states could follow suit. And this suggests the pharma industry shouldn't assume its drug-pricing worries are over. (Max Nisen, 9/28)

Chicago Tribune: GOP Backers Abandon Rauner After Broken Promise On Abortion
Is Gov. Bruce Rauner political burnt toast after he signed a controversial bill expanding taxpayer-funded abortion? ... Sad-faced, surrounded by pro-abortion rights advocates who praised him, Rauner kept saying that he loves Illinois, that he ran for office to fight the state's decline and crush the corruption that strangles it. But right now it's his political future that's being strangled, and he's doing it with his own two hands. (John Kass, 9/28)

Chicago Tribune: Does Rauner's Abortion Decision Mean He Won't Run Again?
So far, no one from the GOP has made a move to challenge Rauner’s renomination. He has a dauntingly large campaign war chest — $67.8 million at last look — and an impressive personal fortune to draw on should those funds run dry. But money isn’t everything. Just look at Alabama. There, radical conservative Roy Moore handily won Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary despite reportedly being outspent byTrump-endorsed incumbent Luther Strange by a more than 10-to-1 ratio. Whether base Republican voters in Illinois are as riled and hungry for disruption of the political order as voters in Alabama is uncertain, but hostile responses from the right during and after Rauner’s announcement suggests that they might well be. (Eric Zorn, 9/28)

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