KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Wyden’s Finance Committee To-Do List Includes Various Health Policy Issues

The Wall Street Journal outlines how Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the likely successor to Sen. Max Baucus as leader of the Senate Finance Committee, is likely to approach various health issues. Also in the news, GOP senators take various weekend opportunities to speak out against the health law.   

The Wall Street Journal: Sen. Ron Wyden Is Set To Get A Wider Platform
He wants to shore up Medicare by better focusing the program on treatment of chronic health problems, according to his former chief of staff, Josh Kardon. In addition, Mr. Wyden could want more protections for workers and digital firms in pending trade legislation, which would also move through the Finance Committee. During 2014, Mr. Wyden also will have to focus on the relatively unglamorous task of finding ways to keep some costly programs going. Those include temporary tax breaks for businesses, as well as reimbursement rules for Medicare physicians. Both will likely require cuts elsewhere in the budget, higher revenue, or both (McKinnon, 1/12). 

Texas Tribune: In Austin, Cruz Renews Attack On Obama, ACA
Speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation policy orientation Friday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz bashed the Obama administration for what he called a culture of “lawlessness,” saying that the administration picked and chose what legislation to follow. Cruz cited exemptions for “big business” from the Affordable Care Act and delayed deadlines for the implementation of provisions of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, which requires most individuals to carry health insurance (Ura, 1/10).

CBS News: GOP Suspicious Of Obamacare Enrollment Figures
Another week, another demand from Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Carrying the torch this week: Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who called Saturday for the law to be defunded or repealed and disputed figures from the administration touting a robust expansion of health insurance coverage under Obamacare. "The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be fully operational by January 1 of this year, but here we are two weeks into 2014, and the administration continues to struggle to implement the law’s burdensome mandates," Cochran said in the weekly Republican address (Miller, 1/11).

The Hill: GOP Knocks Obamacare’s Delayed Mandates
Republicans took aim at the Jan. 1 ObamaCare deadlines that were not met as they called for President Obama’s signature health law to be repealed. In the weekly GOP address, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) criticized the president’s healthcare law for not being fully in place by 2014, noting that implementation of some of the law’s mandates have been delayed. "The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be fully operational by January 1 of this year. But, here we are two weeks into 2014, and the administration continues to struggle to implement the law’s burdensome mandated," Cochran said (Herb, 1/11).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Johnson Defends Obamacare Lawsuit In Waukesha County GOP Speech
If a roomful of Republican supporters is any indication, then U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson may have quite a bit of support among his party's grass-roots in his bid to make Congress pay for health care coverage. Appearing at a Waukesha County GOP Pints and Politics event Friday night, Johnson received spirited applause when he brought up his lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and their staffs. "It's no slam-dunk, but it's not frivolous," the Republican from Oshkosh told about 250 people (Glauber, 1/10).

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