KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Impasse Over Health Law Leads To Federal Government Shutdown

The long-running battle to defund or derail the health law came to a head Monday when Congress failed to approve a short-term spending measure to continue funding the government. For an entrenched group of House Republicans, Obamacare is the sticking point. But a new round of polls finds public opinion doesn't support their strategy.    

Los Angeles Times: Government Shutdown: House Seeks Conference With Senate
An hour after the federal government began shutting down, House Republicans approved a last-ditch effort early Tuesday seeking to set up a committee with the Senate to resolve their monumental differences over Obamacare. … Although Democratic leaders said they would be willing to work with the House to resolve the differences, they said they would only agree to form a committee after the House approved a government funding bill that was not linked to stopping the president’s health care law (Mascaro and Memoli, 9/30).

The New York Times: Government Shutting Down In Impasse
A flurry of last-minute moves by the House, Senate and White House late Monday failed to break a bitter budget standoff over President Obama’s health care law, setting in motion the first government shutdown in nearly two decades. … In the hours leading up to the deadline, House Republican leaders won approval, in a vote of 228 to 201, of a new plan to tie further government spending to a one-year delay in a requirement that individuals buy health insurance. The House proposal would deny federal subsidies to members of Congress, Capitol Hill staff, executive branch political appointees, White House staff, and the president and vice president, who would be forced to buy their health coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges. But 57 minutes later, and with almost no debate, the Senate killed the House health care provisions and sent the stopgap spending bill right back, free of policy prescriptions (Weisman and Peters, 9/30).

Los Angeles Times: With Congress At Impasse, Government Starts Shutting Down
The official word to shut down came from the White House just before midnight Monday. Hours earlier, the Senate, by a 54-46 party-line vote, killed a House measure that would have funded government agencies for six weeks but delayed key parts of Obamacare for a year. It was the second such vote that the Senate took during a day in which the two chambers exchanged volleys of legislation with little expectation that any of it would become law (Mascaro and Memoli, 9/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Government Shuts Down As Congress Misses Deadline
On Capitol Hill, a day of rapid-fire legislative maneuvering between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over the terms of a short-term spending bill collapsed late Monday. House Republicans said they planned to appoint a set of negotiators to work out a budget resolution with a small group with senators. But the GOP move came with no concessions on the party's central demand—that Democrats agree to scale back the new federal health law—and it brought lawmakers no closer to reaching a budget deal (Hook and Peterson, 10/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Long-Running Feud Over Obama Health Care Law Plunges Nation Into Government Shutdown
The health care law itself was unaffected as enrollment opened Tuesday for millions of people shopping for medical insurance (Taylor, 10/1).

Los Angeles Times: Government Shutdown: Obama Calls House GOP Irresponsible
Speaking for several minutes without taking questions, the president outlined the functions that would continue in a shutdown – including Social Security, Medicare, national security and public safety – and those that would be curtailed, including national parks, NASA, federal lending programs and recovery efforts helping victims of Superstorm Sandy. Obama said the impact would be a setback to a recovering economy. … The president also noted that, despite Republican efforts to kill his healthcare law, the online insurance marketplaces will roll out Tuesday as scheduled. "The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down," he said (Hennessey, 9/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Government Shutdown Is Defining Moment For Boehner
Since January, Mr. Boehner has strained to steer clear of either a shutdown or a debt-ceiling crisis for which his party might be blamed, from reshuffling the legislative calendar to scheduling more than 40 votes to repeal or rework the health law, a move designed to give his members ample opportunity to voice their displeasure with the law. In the end, the impasse resulted as much from the internal dynamics of Mr. Boehner's GOP caucus as it did from the partisan divisions in the country as a whole and the chasm between Democrats and Republicans about basic tax-and-spending policies. After months of jockeying, Mr. Boehner heeded the calls from his most conservative colleagues by refusing to give in on requesting health-law changes (O’Connor, 10/1).

Fox News: Congress Misses Deadline, Sending Government Into Partial Shutdown
Lawmakers missed the deadline after being unable to resolve their stand-off over Obamacare, despite a volley of 11th-hour counterproposals from the House. Each time, Senate Democrats refused to consider any changes to Obamacare as part of the budget bill. House Republicans, for their part, refused to back off their demand that the budget bill include some measures to rein in the health care law – a large part of which, the so-called insurance “exchanges,” goes into effect on Tuesday. As House Republicans endorsed one more counterproposal in the early morning hours, lawmakers spent the final minutes before midnight trying to assign blame to the other side of the aisle. Republicans are no doubt wary of the blowback their party felt during the Clinton-era shutdown, while Democrats were almost eager to pile the blame on the GOP (10/1).

PBS NewsHour: GOP Rep. Says Delaying Health Reform Is a 'Fairness Issue'
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., says House Republicans are doing their duty to "soften the blow" of health care reform by insisting that a federal spending bill include a provision on the Affordable Care Act. Gwen Ifill talked to Blackburn from Capitol Hill before votes began in the House about the fight over the budget (Ifill, 9/30).

From the world of public opinion -

Bloomberg: Americans By 72% Oppose Shutdown Tied To Health Care Cuts
In a rejection of congressional Republicans’ strategy, Americans overwhelmingly oppose undermining President Barack Obama’s health-care law by shutting down the federal government or resisting an increase in the nation’s debt limit, according to a poll released today. By 72 percent to 22 percent, Americans oppose Congress "shutting down major activities of the federal government" as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from going into effect, the national survey from Quinnipiac University found (Giroux, 10/1).

McClatchy: Poll: Americans Oppose Shutdown
Americans overwhelmingly make it clear: They oppose the federal government shutdown. A new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found people were against the shutdown, 72-22 percent. They also were heavily against blocking a debt limit increase--the next likely congressional fight--as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act (Lightman, 10/1).

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