Republicans Take Hard Line On Overhaul, Look For Democratic Allies
Republicans aren't softening their tough criticism of the health law even as they seek Democratic allies to join them in their bid to repeal the overhaul.
Los Angeles Times, in a news analysis: "No bargaining, no deals, no compromise - that's the hard-line stance that Republicans have staked in the days since seizing control of the House. Their prescription for the sluggish economy - lower taxes, huge spending cuts, less regulation, and repeal of the sweeping healthcare law just taking effect - excites the party's conservative base. But a long and ugly fight with President Obama and Senate Democrats, starting with next week's lame-duck session, could end up alienating the large number of Americans more interested in jobs than ideological battles" (Barabak, 11/11).
Politico: Republicans are looking for unlikely allies in their fight - Democrats. "[A]nd they're hoping a handful of at-risk or moderate Senate Democrats will help them out" in repealing the health law. "West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin won a Senate seat vowing to repeal 'the bad parts of Obamacare,' and Republican aides say they'll hold him to it. Republicans are also eyeing Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jim Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana - Democratic senators in red or reddish states who will face the voters in 2012. With a big new majority in the House, Republicans will have little trouble passing whatever they want - including a full repeal of the health care reform law. But Republicans don't have a majority in the Senate, so even modest changes to the law will require the help of centrist Democrats - or at least scared ones" (Haberkorn, 11/12).
But some powerful Republicans themselves aren't even sure of the chances the GOP have at repealing the law in the Senate. The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "GOP Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa) admitted Wednesday that a full repeal of President Obama's healthcare law will die in the Senate." Grassley made his comments on an Iowa radio station. "'I think the House will pass a repeal of the ObamaCare. But I believe it will die in the Senate because there's not 60 votes in the Senate for it,' he said. 'And even if it passed Congress, I think the president would veto it and so we wouldn't get two-thirds to ride the veto.' Grassley expressed hope that a gradual repeal would be more successful" (Fabian, 11/11).
Reuters: Health insurers and drugmakers are telling lawmakers not to repeal the law. "Company executives at the Reuters Health Summit this week said the law is far from perfect and said they will push for more steps to tackle stagnant health information technology and skyrocketing costs. But after two years of debate over the issue, they need to move forward with clear steps on how to realign their businesses. The new healthcare law created 'a stable, predictable environment, however painful it has been in the short term,' GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Chief Strategy Officer David Redfern said at the summit in New York. Even insurers, which were vilified by Democrats in passing the reforms, said they don't want a repeal, even as they push for clarity on forthcoming rules and seek additional changes. Cigna Corp CEO David Cordani and Aetna Inc President Mark Bertolini both urged the nation to move forward on the overhaul" (Heavey, 11/11).
The Hill's Healthwatch blog: In the meantime, the Department of Health and Human Services is being warned to resist health insurance lobbying on health overhaul regulations. "In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, California-based Consumer Watchdog asks that she reject insurers' attempts to weaken regulations on how much insurers can raise premiums and how much they have to spend on care. One such provision is the medical loss ratio (MLR), which requires plans to spend at least 80 or 85 percent of premiums on medical care and quality improvement rather than administration and profits. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) last month adopted MLR regulations, but they await HHS certification, which is expected any day now" (Pecquet, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.