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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Parents Of Sick Children Fear Trap If States Have Say On 'Preexisting Conditions'

"I'm not going to risk my son's health on the political whims of Jefferson City," says one Missouri father, whose son requires about $20,000 to $30,000 in medical care expenses a year. The new GOP health bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act lets states decide whether or not insurers must cover people with preexisting conditions, such as birth defects. (Bram Sable-Smith, Side Effects Public Media, 5/10)

5. Political Cartoon: 'Holler Uncle?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Holler Uncle?'" by Nick Anderson.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


What’s said on the Hill
echoes across the nation.
And people react.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

6. Amid Fierce Criticism, McConnell Defends All-Male Panel: 'Everybody Is At The Table'

Democrats are concerned that there are no women involved in the health law working group because they say the legislation is particularly harmful to women.

The New York Times: Women Hold G.O.P. Senate Seats, But Little Influence
The Senate passed a significant milestone this year: 21 of its members are now women, the highest number in American history. But as the recent wrangling over the American health care system in Congress shows, there isn’t always power in numbers. After the House passed a health care bill that gave states the option to drop pregnancy and maternity care from required insurance coverage, Republican leaders in the Senate seemed poised to answer criticism from women. Instead they courted more, naming a 13-member, all-Republican working group on health care legislation, without a single woman on it — forcing Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader who approved the panel, on the defensive on Tuesday. (Steinhauer, 5/9)

Reuters: Senators On Defensive Over All-Male Healthcare Panel
After a meeting of the Senate healthcare group, lawmakers were bombarded with questions as to why no women were named to the 13-man panel. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain. "The working group that counts is all 52 of us," McConnell told reporters, referring to all 52 Republican senators in the 100-member chamber. "Nobody is being excluded based upon gender ... Everybody's at the table. Everybody." Democrats pounced. Republican men are negotiating "a secret healthcare plan, which I really hope is not happening in the men's locker room," said Senator Patty Murray, a member of the Democratic leadership from Washington state. (5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Pressed On All-Male Health Bill Group, McConnell Says All GOP Senators Have Input
The Senate working group met on Tuesday and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W. Va.) attended to participate in a discussion on Medicaid, but she is not joining the group on a permanent basis, a spokeswoman said. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said “[I] sure hope so” when asked if a woman would be added to the health-care working group. “I just want to make sure we have some women on,” she added. Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) spoke for about 15 minutes in the Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday on the health-care proposals and said she planned to continue to participate in the debate.“I’m going to keep speaking up regardless,” Ms. Collins said. “We know how to make our voices heard.” (son, 5/9)

Politico: Senate GOP On Defensive Over All-Male Health Care Group
Republicans can afford to lose only two of their own members on any Obamacare repeal bill, which they plan to pass using powerful budget reconciliation procedures that can circumvent Democratic filibusters. “It’s just foolish to think that we’re excluding somebody,” Cornyn said. (Schor and Everett, 5/9)

7. In Senate, GOP Is Walking A Razor-Thin Margin And These Deal-Breakers Could Nudge Them Over Edge

Politico looks at four hot-button topics that could cost Republican votes needed to pass health care legislation. Other media outlets offer explanations on taxes, the Byrd Rule and what will happen if the senators can't pass a repeal-and-replace law.

Politico: 4 Deal-Breakers That Could Blow Up A Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill
The Senate’s fresh attempt to dismantle Obamacare is already running into its first roadblock — the growing list of demands from GOP lawmakers eager to leave their own mark on the legislation. Just days into the chamber’s health care debate, centrists and self-styled mavericks are testing the party’s razor-thin margin for victory and setting the stage for a series of high-profile negotiations. Those stare downs are likely to shape big parts of the legislation, since GOP leaders can only absorb two defections if Democrats and the chamber’s two independents stand unified in opposition. (Cancryn, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Senate Republicans Face Their Own Divisions In Push For Health-Care Overhaul
Sen. Ted Cruz, a defiant loner whose feuds with Republican Party leaders have made him a conservative favorite, suddenly felt an itch to collaborate. It was late March, just after the dramatic collapse of House Republicans’ initial attempt to pass a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system. Cruz (R-Tex.) sent notice to party colleagues that he wanted to convene a working group to keep alive the GOP’s pledge to undo the law known as Obamacare. (Costa and Sullivan, 5/9)

Politico: GOP Pins Health Care Hopes On An Unlikely Figure: Ted Cruz
After four years of taunting and torturing fellow Republicans, Ted Cruz is shedding his just-say-no persona in the Senate for a new identity: Team player. And this is no idle tryout. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — a man Cruz once derided as a liar and an ally of Democrats — is counting on the Texan to help navigate an Obamacare repeal bill through the Senate with virtually no margin for error. As a trusted voice of the conservative wing of the GOP and conduit to the House Freedom Caucus, Cruz is fast emerging as a pivotal player in the Republican bid to do away with the landmark Democratic health care law. (Everett, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times: GOP Senators Can Cut Obamacare Taxes Or Preserve Coverage For Millions — But Probably Not Both
As they take up the campaign to replace the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republicans face a critical choice between cutting taxes or preserving health coverage for millions of Americans, two competing demands that may yet derail the GOP push to roll back the 2010 healthcare law. House Republicans, who passed their own Obamacare repeal measure last week, skirted the dilemma by cutting both taxes and coverage. (Levey, 5/9)