KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP Plans For Health Law Replacement; Obama Softens Court Rhetoric

Republican lawmakers say they are beginning to pull together a health care package that could replace the 2010 law if the Supreme Court overturns it.

The New York Times: Looking Ahead, Republicans Examine Options In Health Care Fight
Republican lawmakers who have spent two years railing against President Obama's health care law are beginning to devise alternatives so they can be ready if the Supreme Court forces the issue of the uninsured back into the center of political debate. ... Their approach is likely to set aside universal health insurance coverage as the main objective. Instead, they would focus on lowering costs as “the overriding goal,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, a medical doctor and party spokesman on health issues (Pear and Weisman, 4/3).

Reuters: Obama: Not Spending Much Time On Healthcare Contingency Plans
President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he was not spending "a whole bunch of time" preparing contingency plans should the Supreme Court overturn his healthcare overhaul law because he is confident the justices will uphold it. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, also weighed in with a legal argument, saying the high court was unlikely to strike down a law passed by Congress "on an economic issue like healthcare that I think most people would clearly consider commerce" (Spetalnick, 4/3).

Politico: White House Pushes Back On Single-Payer Claims
Obama said during remarks Tuesday that either a mandate or a single-payer government health plan were the only way to ensure coverage of everyone with pre-existing conditions. "The President was simply explaining the individual responsibility provision in the context of the decades-long debate about fixing America's healthcare system. He was not talking about any hypothetical situation where ACA is overturned, nor has the White House commented on such hypotheticals, because we firmly believe the law is Constitutional and will be upheld," a White House official said (Tau, 4/3).

National Journal: Supreme Court Hearings Didn't Help Obama's Case, Poll Finds
Though a majority of Americans weren't swayed either way by the Supreme Court's hearings on the health care reform law, the hearings did negatively affect public perception of both the law and the Court, according to a new Pew Center survey. The survey, conducted with The Washington Post, polled adults nationwide from March 29 to April 1, just days after the three-day SCOTUS hearings on the law last week. Though cameras and recording devices weren't allowed in the courtroom, the public received a barrage of news reports from reporters witnessing the hearings firsthand and from the transcripts released at the end of each day (Jaffe, 4/3).

Meanwhile, Obama's comments about the Supreme Court Monday prompted GOP criticism.

CQ HealthBeat: McConnell, Hatch Say Obama Remarks On Court Case Are Politically Motivated
Top Senate Republicans accused President Obama of trying to intimidate the Supreme Court by saying that overturning his 2010 health care overhaul law could be seen as judicial activism. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said the president's remarks foreshadow a strategy by Democrats to campaign against the court's justices if they do not rule in their favor (Ethridge, 4/3).

The Hill: Obama Says He Will 'Respect' Supreme Court's Ruling On His Health Care Law
President Obama softened his rhetoric Tuesday about the possibility of a Supreme Court decision striking down his healthcare reform law, after Republicans accused him of "threatening" the high court. Obama said Monday that a ruling against the healthcare law would show a "lack of judicial restraint." Republicans quickly accused the president of trying to intimidate the court (Baker, 4/3).

National Journal: Romney: Court Decision Won't Be 'Activist'
[Mitt Romney] leveled attacks instead against President Obama, saying that he is "consumed with trying to find someone to blame for an extraordinarily failed presidency." Romney also dismissed Obama's assertion on Monday that if the Supreme Court struck down his health care law it would be the actions of an activist Court. On Fox & Friends, Romney reacted to news that Obama would be delivering a speech on the economy. "He's trying to find someone to blame, some scapegoat that he can point to and say, 'This is the person responsible,'" Romney said. "The truth is, the buck stops at his desk, and it's time he realizes it" (Miller, 4/3).

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