KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House Votes To Delay Health Law, Repeal Medical Device Tax

Senate Democrats say they cannot accept the provisions in House GOP's newest bill to fund the government. Without agreement between Senate and House, the government could shut down Tuesday.

The New York Times: U.S. Shutdown Nears As House Votes To Delay Health Law
The federal government on Sunday morning barreled toward its first shutdown in 17 years after the Republican-run House, choosing a hard line, voted to attach a one-year delay of President Obama’s health care law and a repeal of a tax to pay for it to legislation to keep the government running (Weisman and Peters, 9/29). 

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Nears Shutdown As House Votes To Delay Health Law
On a 231-192 vote, the House early Sunday passed a one-year delay of the health law, often called Obamacare, and attached it to a plan to fund the government through Dec. 15. The legislation now goes to the Senate. It also includes a provision repealing a tax on medical devices intended to help finance the health law, which the House approved on a 248-174 vote. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), in a statement issued hours before the House took up the bill, pledged to strip out the health provisions. He denounced the GOP vote as "pointless" and declared the impasse to be back at "Square 1" (Hook, Peterson and Hughes, 9/29).

The Washington Post: House Pushes U.S. To The Edge Of A Shutdown
“We will do everything we can to protect Americans against the harmful effects of Obamacare. This bill does that. We’re united in the House as Republicans,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said shortly after unveiling the plan to his rank and file. “Now it’s up to the Senate Democrats to answer” (Montgomery, Kane and Helderman, 9/29).

Politico: McCarthy: 'We Are Not Shutting The Government Down'
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that several options are on the table for House GOP leaders if the Senate tosses the government funding bill back to the chamber without two anti-Obamacare changes approved by the House. McCarthy, the third-ranking House Republican, said his chamber will send the continuing resolution back to the Senate with "another provision" attached, and said there are "few other options" for those provisions. "We will pass a bill -- if the Senate [rejects the current House bill] -- that will keep the government open, that will reflect the House that I believe the Senate can accept," McCarthy said on "Fox News Sunday." It "will have fundamental changes into Obamacare that can protect the economy for America" (Kim, 9/29). 

The Hill: House Sends Stopgap Back To Senate 48 Hours Before Shutdown
Unveiled by GOP leaders just hours earlier, the continuing resolution (CR) would fund the government through Dec. 15. It would delay the individual coverage mandate and the insurance exchanges which are set to launch on Tuesday – and eliminate a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. Republican supporters said the ObamaCare delay is necessary to prepare a wary public for sweeping changes that lack the underlying infrastructure to make them work. They framed their postponement proposal as a compromise, relative to the defunding measure they had pushed earlier in the month (Lillis, 9/29).

The Associated Press: Shutdown Showdown Intensifies Over Obamacare Delay
The House bill contained new concessions from Republicans who have long criticized the requirements the health care law imposes on insurers. They said their measure would leave intact most parts of the health care law that have already taken effect, including requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to let families' plans cover children up to age 26. An exception: Insurers would be allowed to deny abortion coverage based on religious or moral objections. But it would delay a requirement for people to purchase coverage or face a penalty, and the creation of marketplaces — which are supposed to start functioning this Tuesday — where people could shop for coverage from private insurers (Fram, 9/29).

Los Angeles Times: House Vote Sets Stage For Government Shutdown
Republicans see Tuesday's launch of the healthcare law's online marketplaces as one of their last chances to stop Obamacare, even though Senate Democrats appear united in their commitment to protect the president's signature legislative accomplishment. The House bill would delay the marketplaces for a year. Any delay in the healthcare law remains highly unlikely. Moreover, key aspects of the law are already underway. The president said Friday that the marketplaces, where the uninsured will shop for policies, will open for business on Tuesday even if there is a federal shutdown. "That's a done deal," he said (Mascaro and Memoli, 9/28).

Politico: As Government Shutdown Looms, Obamacare Exchanges Still Set For Launch
It’s looking more and more like Tuesday will be a split-screen day: The government will shut down, and Obamacare will open for business. That’s going to annoy a lot of Republicans —because the ones who are pushing the shutdown are doing so precisely because they want to halt Obamacare (Cunningham and Nather, 9/29).

The Hill: White House Threatens To Veto 'Reckless And Irresponsible' House Spending Bill
The White House on Saturday said President Obama would veto the House GOP's latest stopgap spending measure. It said Obama would veto the bill because of the inclusion of language delaying ObamaCare and eliminating a medical device tax, while faulting the House for not moving a simple funding measure approved by the Senate on Friday (Sink, 9/29).

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