KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 20, 2011

Today's headlines feature reports about yesterday's House vote to repeal the health overhaul and about the GOP's next steps in its effort to undo the sweeping law.  

Kaiser Health News: Repeal Vote Over, Federal Effort To Compel Consumers to Have Insurance Faces Renewed Scrutiny
KHN staff writers Aimee Miles, Jessica Marcy and Amita Parashar spoke with health policy experts about possible alternatives to the individual mandate, which also faces mounting legal challenges with 26 states joining in lawsuits opposing it. Is it time for Democrats to revisit this provision, and perhaps develop alternatives to it? If so, what mechanism could be used instead? (Miles, Marcy and Parashar, 1/19).

Kaiser Health News: 'Multiple Fictions' Drive Opposition to Health Law
In this KHN column, Henry Aaron writes about a recent critique of the health overhaul: "This critique is based on multiple fictions-about what the Affordable Care Act does, about what any plausible alternative would do, and about what the real issues in the current debate really are" (1/19).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill
KHN's Marilyn Werber Serafini and KFF's Jackie Judd talked about the recent House repeal vote. Republicans in the House delivered on their election-year promise to repeal the health care overhaul law signed by President Obama less than a year ago. Every Republican, and a small handful of Democrats, voted for repeal. Now GOP House leaders are trying to apply political pressure on the Senate to bring the bill up for a vote (1/19).

Kaiser Health News: Video: Partisan Arguments Resonate In Health Law Repeal Debate
As the House of Representatives got closer to voting on the health law repeal, members took to the floor to denounce the arguments from the other side. We have excerpts from Reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., George Miller, D-Calif., Steve Scalise, R-La., Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (1/19).

The New York Times: House Votes For Repeal Of Health Law In Symbolic Act
The House voted Wednesday to repeal the Democrats' landmark health care overhaul, marking what the new Republican majority in the chamber hailed as the fulfillment of a campaign promise and the start of an all-out effort to dismantle President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement (Herszenhorn and Pear, 1/19).

Los Angeles Times: House GOP Passes Resolution To Repeal Healthcare Law
House Republicans passed a largely symbolic resolution Wednesday to repeal the nation's new healthcare law, fulfilling a top campaign promise and setting the stage for a renewed battle in the Senate. The Senate showdown may not begin for several weeks, but promises to be substantially messier and more drawn-out than the debate just completed in the House (Levey and Mascaro, 1/20).

The Washington Post: House Votes To Repeal Health-Care Law
In the first major act of the new Congress, the Republican-led House voted Wednesday to repeal the Democrats' health-care overhaul, fulfilling a pledge that GOP candidates made during the fall midterm campaigns. Three Democrats sided with a unified GOP in the 245 to 189 vote, a largely symbolic step that has little chance of being considered by the Democratic-controlled Senate (Goldstein and Aizenman, 1/20).

The Wall Street Journal: House Approves Health Law Repeal
The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to repeal the health-care overhaul that is a signature achievement of President Barack Obama, in a largely symbolic move that made good on a GOP election promise but left uncertain what the party would offer as an alternative (Adamy and Bendavid, 1/20).

USA Today: GOP-Led House Votes To Repeal Health Care Law
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal last year's health care law, the first major rebuke of the White House by the House since Republicans took control of it this month (Kennedy, 1/20).

Politico: Health Care: Now Comes The Really Hard Part
The next steps - hearings, testimony from administration officials, funding cuts - lack the punch of a straight repeal vote, but Republicans said they will keep at it, hoping the end result is the same: stalling implementation of the $900 billion law. Republicans promise to hold a series of hearings and oversight investigations into the law, attempt to repeal individual provisions and craft an alternative health care plan. Some of the first issues they will tackle are the cost of the law, the mandate on larger employers to provide coverage and the impact of the legislation on the states (Haberkorn and Budoff Brown, 1/20).

The New York Times: Approaching Civility (If Perhaps Falling Short Of Eloquence) In Debate
The Webster-Hayne debate it was not. But in the end, the floor fight over the bill to repeal the health care overhaul - predetermined both to pass the House and ultimately fail to become law - by and large demonstrated the ability of Republicans and Democrats to debate a public policy matter civilly (Steinhauer, 1/20).

NPR: Questions Mount As Health Law Rolls Out
Confused about the new health law? You're not alone. Over the past couple of weeks, All Things Considered asked listeners to e-mail questions. On Wednesday's show, I tackled some on the air. Here they are, with a few bonus questions and answers that weren't broadcast (Rovner, 1/19).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Small Business And The Health Care Repeal
There are red flags whenever someone attributes huge swings in data to a single cause--in this case the new health care law. Could so many more small businesses really be signing up for health insurance because of a law that only passed ten months ago? The answer is no (Kessler, 1/19).

The Washington Post: Religious Hospitals' Restrictions Sparking Conflicts, Scrutiny
Such disputes between hospitals and church authorities appear to be arising because of a confluence of factors: Economic pressures are spurring greater consolidation in the hospital industry, prompting religiously affiliated institutions to take over or merge with secular ones, imposing church directives on them. At the same time, the drive to remain competitive has led some medical centers to evade the directives. Alongside those economic forces, changes in the church hierarchy have led increasingly conservative bishops to exert more influence over Catholic hospitals (Stein, 1/19).

Los Angeles Times: Mental Health In Arizona: A Case Study
Across the country, mental health advocates say, cash-strapped legislatures have been chopping services for the anxious, depressed and schizophrenic. Since 2009, states have shaved more than $2 billion from such programs and axed more than 4,000 inpatient beds, said Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Santa Cruz and Powers, 1/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers' Profits Seen Rising
Health insurers' fourth-quarter reports will provide an early glimpse into how much wind the health overhaul could take out of plans' profits-and, so far, Wall Street estimates don't look all that bad for the industry (Johnson, 1/20).

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