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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Regime Change'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Regime Change'" by Monte Wolverton.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

A CRYSTAL BALL WOULD HELP RIGHT NOW

Tradeoffs essential
Twenty million with health care
Will they replace bill?

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. The Battle Lines Are Drawn In The Messaging War Over The Obamacare Repeal

Both parties are trying to claim the high ground as the protectors of Americans' health while casting their opponents' positions as dangerous.

The New York Times: Senate Republicans Open Fight Over Obama Health Law
Congress opened for battle over the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday as Republicans pushed immediately forward to repeal the health care law and President Obama made a rare trip to Capitol Hill to defend it. The bitterness that has long marked the fight intensified as Republicans seized the opportunity to make good on a central campaign promise to get rid of the law, a pledge reinforced on Wednesday by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who met with House Republicans not far from where the president gathered with Democrats. (Kaplan and Thrush, 1/4)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP’s Health-Law Attack Spurs Messaging Battle
The new Congress is moving swiftly to decide the fate of the ACA, and both sides appeared to be as mindful of the political stakes as of how any changes would affect consumers. While opponents of the law point to sharp premium increases on the ACA insurance exchanges, the latest government estimates indicate about 20 million previously uninsured people have obtained coverage under the law. (Nicholas, son and Armour, 1/4)

Bloomberg: Republicans Want To Kill Obamacare Without The Blame 
Republicans have a problem. They’ve vowed to repeal Obamacare, but they don’t want to take the blame when some of the 20 million people who get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act lose it. The GOP strategy is to argue that they aren’t actually killing Obamacare; all they’re doing is giving it a proper burial. “People must remember that Obamacare just doesn’t work; and it is not affordable,” President-elect Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 3. “It will fall of its own weight - be careful!” he added the next day. (Coy and Kapur, 1/4)

Politico: Congress Prepares For Obamacare Message War
As Republicans near their long-sought repeal of Obamacare, their battle with congressional Democrats entered a new phase Wednesday, with both parties vowing to convince Americans the other side will be to blame if millions of people see their health care disrupted. (Cheney, Bade and Sherman, 1/4)

The Associated Press: Analysis: Health Care Battle Could Decide Balance Of Power
The messaging battle is over on repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's health care law, and the balance of power in Washington may be at stake. Democrats believe they already lost the public opinion fight over the law once, when they pushed through the Affordable Care Act in the first place, and Republicans grabbed hold of the issue to drive Democrats into the minority. Democrats are determined that this time, they'll come out on top. (Werner, 1/4)

The Hill: Battle Lines Drawn On ObamaCare Repeal
Democrats and Republicans are honing their lines of attack for a battle over ObamaCare repeal that is likely to consume Washington for much of the year. The messaging war started in earnest Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans huddled in separate meetings to discuss strategy. Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with both House and Senate Republicans, and emphasized that repeal of ObamaCare will be the first order of business for Republicans under President-elect Donald Trump. (Sullivan and Carney, 1/4)

The Associated Press: Obama, Pence Harden 'Obamacare' Battle Lines At Capitol
Outnumbered in the new Congress, Democrats didn't sound confident in stopping the Republicans cold but signaled they wouldn't make the GOP's job any easier. New Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that if the Republicans do scuttle the health care law, they will have to come up with a replacement plan before Democrats consider whether to help them revamp the system. That adds pressure on Republicans, who for years have battled among themselves over what a new law would look like, including how to finance its programs and whether to keep Obama's expansion of Medicaid for more lower-income people. (Fram, 1/4)

The Washington Post: Democrats: Trump Will Make America Sick Again
Democrats can’t stop the Republicans from gutting the Affordable Care Act so they want to make sure Donald Trump and the GOP take the full blame for any blow-back of and when the health-care system comes apart. Their message: Trump wants to Make America Sick Again. (Snell, 1/4)

CQ HealthBeat: Democrats Predict Health Care Repeal Will Backfire On GOP
Congressional Democrats on Wednesday emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama pledging to highlight the consequences of Republican plans to repeal the 2010 health care law without having a replacement ready, but stopped short of offering any policies or changes that they would like to see in a bipartisan replacement themselves. Obama urged Democrats to continue fighting the Republican effort, citing the uncertainty that could ensue in the healthcare system and the setbacks that could occur if gains on health care are lost, according to Democratic lawmakers who attended the meeting. Obama believes that the American public would like to see the health law improved upon, but do not actually want it repealed. (Siddons, 1/4)

6. Dynamics Of Repeal: GOP Grapples With Challenges Of Day-One Promises

Part of the reality President-elect Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers face is finding ways to undo the 2010 health law without harming the 20 million people who gained insurance as a result of it. It's leading some policy experts to predict the evolution of an "Obamacare lite."

Bloomberg: Repealing Obamacare Could Be Trump's First Lesson In The Glacial Pace Of Congress 
Donald Trump promised voters an immediate repeal of Obamacare, but Republicans in Congress likely won’t have a bill ready for him on Day One. Or Day Two. Or perhaps even his first two weeks. Republican leaders will start deploying fast-track procedures Wednesday to get the bill through the Senate, but that will require weeks of wrangling, if not longer. It’ll be an early lesson for Trump in the sometimes-glacial pace of Congress. (Dennis, 1/4)

Modern Healthcare: Obamacare Lite Deal May Look Increasingly Attractive To GOP 
Could President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans decide it's politically smarter to reach a deal with Democrats this year to modify the Affordable Care Act, rather than repealing it and trying to create a new system from scratch? It's possible, say both conservative and liberal health policy experts. There are plenty of areas where pragmatic Republicans and Democrats could reach agreement, such as tightening enrollment rules to reduce costs, giving insurers more leeway in setting premiums, and replacing the ACA's individual mandate with strong incentives for people to maintain continuous insurance coverage. (Meyer, 1/4)

In all of this action on Capitol Hill, though, investors found some positive signs -

Bloomberg: Promise Of Orderly Obamacare Repeal Sends Hospital Stocks Rising 
At the end of a day when incoming and outgoing presidents tussled over the fate of U.S. health care, it was the words of Vice President-elect Mike Pence that seemed to matter most
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