KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Opinions On Cruz: GOP Fight Obscures Harms From Sequester; Dramatic Stand Reaffirms Republican Resolve; Fundraising Bonanza For Both Parties

The New York Times: Lasting Damage From The Budget Fight
The budget crisis manufactured by Congressional Republicans will never succeed at halting health care reform, but it has already caused long-lasting harm. It will preserve the deeply damaging spending cuts, known as the sequester, that are costing jobs and hurting the lives of millions (9/25).

The New York Times: Suffocating Echo Chamber
When Senator Ted Cruz of La Mancha jumped on his trusty steed and charged the windmills, he explained: "Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy." He added that accepting the Affordable Care Act would be like appeasing the Nazis. Cruz is a smart man, and maybe this is just disingenuous demagoguery. But there’s a scarier possibility: After spending too much time in the Republican echo chamber, he may believe what he says (Nicholas D. Kristof , 9/25). 

Politico: After Talking The Talk, Ted Cruz Wins
The Cruz all-nighter wasn't a legislative tactic so much as it was what 19th-century anarchists called "the propaganda of the deed." It made a point. It dramatically reaffirmed Republican resolve to repeal Obamacare. It drove more debate about the health care law. It perhaps opened up space for more realistic immediate Republican goals, such as a delay in the individual mandate, in the impending fiscal fights. It also saved Cruz's reputation among the tea party conservatives he cares about most (Rich Lowry, 9/26).

The New York Times: John McCain Versus Ted Cruz
It's no secret that Senator John McCain doesn't much like Senator Ted Cruz, whom he once called a "wacko bird." His main grievance is that Mr. Cruz isn’t interested in the business of governing, which requires compromise. If Mr. Cruz can't get what he anything and everything he wants, he'd rather grandstand and muck up the Senate than give in (Juliet Lapidos, 9/25). 

The Wall Street Journal: Cynical Obamacare Fundraising
Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much about health-care policy these days, but leaders in both parties see the Obamacare debate as an opportunity to raise money (Jason L. Riley, 9/25).

The Washington Post: On Obamacare, Republicans Get In Their Own Way
If the ACA is, as conservatives believe, as unpleasant in potential effects as it is impossible to implement, conservatives should allow what Lincoln called "the silent artillery of time" to destroy it. ... House Republicans can attach to the continuing resolution that funds the government, and then to the increase in the debt ceiling, two provisions: Preservation of the ACA requirement — lawlessly disregarded by the administration — that members of Congress and their staffs must experience the full enjoyment of the ACA without special, ameliorating subsidies. And a one-year delay of the ACA's individual mandate (George F. Will, 9/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Let Obamacare Collapse
What the GOP's Defund-Obamacare Caucus is failing to see is that Obamacare is no longer just Obamacare. It is about something that is beyond the reach of a congressional vote. As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, Obamacare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called "Obamacare" carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently (Daniel Henninger, 9/25).

Bloomberg: Lots Of Words And Few Facts From Ted Cruz
Exactly what Ted Cruz accomplished with his 21-hour stemwinder from the Senate floor yesterday and today is unclear. What’s not debatable is his central argument against President Barack Obama’s health-care-reform law -- that it is "the single biggest job-killer in America." It’s flat wrong (9/25).

Miami Herald: Scare Tactics On Obamacare
It wasn’t the longest speech on the Senate floor, and not quite a filibuster, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made his points during his talkathon about the Affordable Care Act: Socialism! A jobs killer! Americans don’t want it! A red herring to impose a single-payer system! ... Here's the reality check: Obamacare passed muster in the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. It is not a socialist plot — just ask insurance companies that will be selling policies. It is not a jobs killer — just ask hospitals and healthcare professionals who are poised to hire more workers as insurance options expand this year for millions of Americans. And it won't usher in a single-payer system like those in European countries because Americans don’t want that (9/25).

Politico: How Obamacare May Be Holding Down Costs
The historic slowdown in health-care costs is continuing. Earlier this month, the government's actuaries found that total national health spending continues to grow at the lowest rate we've ever seen. And our annual employer health benefits survey released in August found premiums up just 4 percent on average for family policies this year, while overall health spending is growing at the slowest rate in 50 years (dating back to when the government first started tabulating health expenditures). Experts debate how much of the slowdown is due to the weak economy, which causes people to use less health care, and how much is due to changes in health insurance and the health-care system, such as higher cost-sharing or new efforts to limit avoidable tests or hospital days. But the consensus – including the actuaries – is that both factors are playing some role (Drew Altman, 9/26).

Detroit Free Press: While Affordable Care Act Prepares To Save Lives, The GOP Recites Dr. Seuss
What to do when the false narrative you’ve been pushing for five years withers in the light of fact and reality? If you’re Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the obvious answer is the foot-stamping losers’ refuge of the filibuster, apparently (Stephen Henderson, 9/25).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare As Political Theater
Each week seems to bring new claims that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) — which begins enrollment for coverage on health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1 — will bring calamity. In many ways, this furor is reminiscent of Medicare's beginnings in 1966. That law, passed in 1965, had just a year before it went live. There were plenty of naysayers and fears of potentially calamitous roadblocks (Marilyn Moon, 9/26).

The Fiscal Times: Why Obamacare May Not Put A Dent In Health Spending
The Department of Health and Humans Services released a report on Wednesday that, for the first time, provided details on the premium rates in 36 states where the federal government will run or support insurance exchanges. The report found that average premiums across 48 states, not including tax credits for those eligible to receive them, would be about 16 percent lower than projected. Yet that data doesn’t fully describe the costs for all Americans once the exchanges launch on Oct. 1. The report looks at premiums for 27-year-old nonsmokers and families of four making $50,000. The actual rates you get might be different from those listed (John Wasik, 9/26).  

The Fiscal Times: Rising Premiums Expose Obamacare 'Bait And Switch'
With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act individual exchanges less than a week away, the Department of Health and Human Services finally got around to announcing what consumers will have to pay.   Their press release  put a positive spin on the data, heralding the "significant choice" that consumers will find in these exchanges – and at "lower than expected premiums."  This, however, is nothing but what Forbes analyst Avik Roy calls "happy talk" (Edward Morrissey, 9/26).

Miami Herald: Gov's Privacy Concerns Are A Sham
Let's conduct a poll. By hand signal. Anyone who discerns even an inkling of sincerity in the governor's decision to bar Affordable Health Care "navigators" from county health department premises, slap yourself in the head. Pasco County Health Director Dr. Marc Yacht, for one, wouldn't poll in favor of the gov. He called Rick Scott’s policy, ostensibly to protect patient confidentiality, "cruel and irresponsible," charging that it will "significantly compromise a multitude of needy Floridians from getting critical health care" (Fred Grimm, 9/25).

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