KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Republicans Governors Part Of Health Law Fight

News outlets looked at some of the strategies Republican leaders may turn to in their efforts to pull back on the health overhaul.

The Washington Post finds that since the changes of repeal are "slim to nil, at least through 2012," Republicans may turn to getting rid of parts of the law, including "unpopular aspects that are less central to the law," including a  provision that requires businesses to expand their reporting to the IRS of what goods and services they buy. "The measure was intended to raise money for the law by helping the IRS clamp down on tax evasion. But many small businesses say that complying with it will prove costly and onerous. Democrats and the president have expressed a willingness to modify or repeal it, as long as Congress finds an alternate funding source" (Aizenman, 11/4).

The New York Times: "Republicans also say they will try to deny money to put Mr. Obama's new health care law into effect, though they have not made clear what they would do to make up the cost savings that would be lost if they succeeded in repealing the law. … It is unclear whether federal agencies could perhaps reprogram money intended for other purposes to make up for any money blocked by Congress" (Calmes, 11/4).

The Washington Post, in a separate story: "Instead, Republicans will try to change or eliminate portions of the legislation by relying on tools such as the the Congressional Review Act of 1996, a little-used statute that allows Congress to overturn a regulation before it takes effect by passing a 'resolution of disapproval' in both chambers. But the measure can be vetoed" (Murray and Bacon, 11/5).

McClatchy: "The real value of the House vote is to show disgruntled voters that GOP lawmakers haven't conceded defeat on the president's signature domestic-policy triumph, said James Capretta, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. … A House vote also will help, from a public awareness standpoint, keep the controversial law in play for the 2012 elections" (Pugh, 11/4).

PBS Newshour interviewed policy experts on what voters may be thinking. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA said: "I don't think health care was a top issue during the campaign. If you take a look at the preelection surveys that were undertaken by Associated Press, the Kaiser Family Foundation, New York Times, they show that most people want health reform to have a chance to work.(Kaiser Health News is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.) Some of them actually want to build on health reform and make it even better and improve it further. I don't think there is public support for repealing the legislation."

But Capretta, on that show, said health care was a "front-and-center issue. Many, many candidates, both for the House and the Senate, ran explicitly on repeal and replace. And, by and large, they won" (Brown, 11/4).

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republican governors are also eyeing opting out of the law. "Republicans recaptured at least 11 governors' seats from Democrats in Tuesday's election, winning in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Tennessee, New Mexico, Iowa and Maine. Democrats reclaimed at least two seats from Republicans, in California and Hawaii. … While governors can't avoid much of the law, they can throw sand in its gears and keep states out of involvement in a central part of it-new exchanges for selling insurance policies. Wisconsin's Republican governor-elect, Scott Walker, met with lawmakers Wednesday to discuss how to minimize the state's participation in the law's expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor. He also wants to lean on private entities to run the insurance exchanges, where lower earners who qualify for tax credits and small businesses will shop for insurance starting in 2014" (Adamy, 11/5).

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