KHN Morning Briefing

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Republicans Press Forward With Repeal Efforts Despite Governors’ Plea To Reject Measure

A group of bipartisan governors urges Congress to reject the last-ditch repeal-and-replace effort coming from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), but lawmakers are charging forward. It's still unclear if they have the votes, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she's considering the bill, touting the flexibility it gives to states.

The New York Times: Republican Leaders Defy Bipartisan Opposition To Health Law Repeal
Eleven governors, including five Republicans and a pivotal Alaskan independent, urged the Senate on Tuesday to reject a last-ditch push to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. But Republican leaders pressed toward a showdown vote. And they choked off separate bipartisan efforts to shore up health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, hoping to give Republican senators no alternative but to vote for repeal. (Pear and Kaplan, 9/19)

Politico: Backlash Throws Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Effort Into Doubt
Opponents of the proposal co-authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seized on its plan to overhaul Obamacare’s subsidized insurance and Medicaid expansion and replace those with block grants to the states — a mass restructuring they warned would sow chaos in insurance markets. They panned its new regulatory flexibilities as a backdoor route to undermining key patient protections — including safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions. And in the biggest blow, several Republican governors urged the GOP to abandon a plan that would force states to swallow potentially billions in funding cuts — and instead to focus on stabilizing Obamacare. (Cancryn, 9/19)

The Washington Post: New Health-Care Plan Stumbles Under Opposition From Governors
Among the signers were Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I), who holds some sway over Murkowski, a potentially decisive vote who opposed a previous Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Nevertheless, Murkowski said Tuesday afternoon that she was still weighing her options and explained how her position on the bill might ultimately differ from her opposition to the repeal effort that failed dramatically in July. “If it can be shown that Alaska is not going to be disadvantaged, you gain additional flexibility. Then I can go back to Alaskans, and I can say, ‘Okay, let’s walk through this together.’ That’s where it could be different,” she said. (Sullivan, Eilperin and Snell, 9/19)

The Associated Press: A Last, Last Chance: Republicans Strain For Obamacare Repeal
Republicans must act by Sept. 30 in the Senate or face the prospect of a Democratic filibuster. That blocking action is currently staved off by budget rules that will expire at the end of the month. The new legislation, by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would undo the central pillars of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, and replace them with block grants to the states so they could make their own health care coverage rules. (Werner, 9/20)

Bloomberg: McConnell Won’t Promise Obamacare Repeal Vote As Foes Mobilize 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to promise a vote on Republicans’ last-ditch proposal to repeal Obamacare as Democrats and other opponents started ramping up a new campaign Tuesday to block it. "If we were going to go forward, we would have to act before Sept. 30," McConnell told reporters when asked if the GOP-only bill will come to the Senate floor before next week’s procedural deadline. "We are in the process of discussing all of this." (Litvan, 9/19)

The Hill: Trump, White House All In On ObamaCare Repeal Push
President Trump and Vice President Pence have been making calls to senators and governors in a furious effort to gain support for a last-ditch ObamaCare repeal bill. The Trump administration is making clear it's all in on the repeal push, with Pence warning that the White House will not support efforts to "fix" or "prop up" ObamaCare. (Hellmann, 9/19)

The Hill: Graham Predicts ObamaCare Repeal Bill Will Get 50 Votes 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is predicting he will get enough votes on his bill to repeal ObamaCare and says House leadership has pledged they would also pass it. "I really believe we're going to get 50 Republican votes," Graham told reporters after a closed-door GOP caucus lunch on Tuesday. "I've never felt better about where we're at." (Carney, 9/19)

Politico: Republicans Rip Rand For Rejecting Obamacare Repeal
Rand Paul might soon go down as the Republican who saved Obamacare — and he couldn’t care less. "I'm actually happy to be out there as the leading advocate for repealing Obamacare, not keeping it," the Kentucky Republican said in an interview. Of his GOP colleagues, Paul added: "These people, they so totally do not get it." (Kim and Everett, 9/20)

The Hill: GOP Faces Risks, Rewards In Rushing To Repeal Vote Without CBO Score 
Senate Republicans are rushing toward a vote on an ObamaCare repeal bill without getting a full analysis from the Congressional Budget Office on how their legislation would affect coverage and premiums. It’s a risky move, as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have both said they’d prefer to have a full score before casting their votes. (Sullivan, 9/19)

A look at where governors stand on the issue —

The Hill: Kasich, Sandoval, Alaska Governor Oppose New ObamaCare Repeal Bill
A bipartisan group of governors including Republicans John Kasich (Ohio) and Brian Sandoval (Nevada) is urging the Senate to reject the latest ObamaCare repeal effort. In a letter to Senate leaders, the governors urged lawmakers not to abandon bipartisan market stabilization talks led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). (Weixel, 9/19)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Gov. John Kasich Joins Bipartisan Governors In Opposing Graham-Cassidy
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday joined a bipartisan group of governors who formally declared opposition to the latest U.S. Senate plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Kasich joined nine other governors including Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper in a letter that asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to not consider the controversial proposal. (Eaton, 9/19)

The Baltimore Sun: Hogan Opposes Latest Version Of Obamacare Repeal Bill 
Gov. Larry Hogan urged Congress Tuesday to reject the latest version of a Senate Republican plan to repeal Obamacare, saying it would cost Maryland $2 billion a year. Hogan, a Republican, has so far opposed all of the measures supported by President Donald J. Trump to scrap the Affordable Care Act. The new version, known as Graham-Cassidy, faces a potentially close vote in the Senate before the end of September. (Dresser, 9/19)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: With A New Term, Pat Toomey Flexes His Muscles On Health Care, Taxes
Pat Toomey is making the most out of his new term in the Senate. Fresh off a near-political-death experience — winning reelection last year by 1.5 percentage points — the Pennsylvania Republican has dived into the two most contentious legislative battles of 2017, authoring conservative proposals and pushing some colleagues to go farther than first inclined. Toomey began the year by serving as a leading voice for rolling back the Affordable Care Act; he wrote one of the most controversial parts of the Senate GOP’s initial proposal, a plan to drastically scale back Medicaid spending. (Tamari, 9/19)

Des Moines Register: Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Repeal: Iowa Gov. Reynolds Backs Measure
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she supports a Republican initiative in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a plan to give block grants to the states to help individuals pay for health coverage. Reynolds, a Republican, pointed to the success of a welfare reform initiative approved by Congress under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s that resulted in reductions in welfare rolls. However, she quickly added she isn't suggesting that she supports major cuts in the rolls of Iowa's Medicaid program, which provides health care for thousands of low-income persons. (Petroski, 9/19)

The Hill: Virginia GOP Gov Candidate Says ObamaCare Repeal Effort 'Falls Short' 
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (R) on Tuesday appeared to distance himself from the Graham-Cassidy bill, a last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare. During a debate with opponent Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the Republican said that while he supports a bill intended to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, the one put forth by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) doesn't protect states that chose not to expand Medicare. (Bowden, 9/19)

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