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2. Political Cartoon: 'Working Like A Dog?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Working Like A Dog?'" by Hillary B. Price.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

3. Congress Returns To Grueling Schedule Including Two Health Care Hearings This Week

Governors and state insurance commissioners are expected to testify at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings this week. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), has set an ambitious timeline for drafting legislation to shore up the health law marketplaces. Meanwhile, hard feelings over the failed replacement efforts may complicate future health policy discussions.

The Hill: Week Ahead: Congress Returns To Take Up Bipartisan Health Care Effort 
The Senate's Health Committee will hold two hearings in the coming week on a bipartisan healthcare bill, with testimony from governors and state insurance officials on Wednesday and Thursday, in addition to two more hearings the following week. The goal is to pass a bill by the end of the month to stabilize the insurance markets for 2018. (Hellmann, 9/5)

Politico: Alexander Sets Ambitious Timetable For Obamacare Fixes
The chairman of the Senate health committee is aiming to break years of stalemate and pass a bipartisan Obamacare repair bill to try to stabilize health insurance markets in the remarkably short span of just three weeks. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) envisions a narrow bill that won't fix everything but would provide some assurances for insurers selling coverage next year. (Haberkorn, 9/1)

Reuters: Bad Blood Over Obamacare Fight Lingers As Congress Returns
When the U.S. Congress returns from summer vacation on Tuesday, for the first time in years gutting Obamacare will not be the main order of business on the healthcare agenda. But leftover hard feelings in the wake of the long, partisan Obamacare wars could poison other issues. (Drawbaugh and Lewis, 9/4)

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Faces A Tense Agenda, With Little Margin For Error
Mr. Trump over the August recess repeatedly criticized Republican lawmakers over Twitter , blaming them for the failure to repeal the health-care law. His tweets underscored the party’s inability to pass major legislation, despite controlling both chambers and the White House for the first time since 2007. Both House and Senate Republicans said Mr. Trump’s attacks on his own party won’t help them quickly pass the looming high-stakes bills that already face little room for error in either chamber. (Bender and son, 9/4)

In related news, deciding whether to renew the CHIP program is another big item on Congress's packed to-do list —

CQ Magazine: Fall Legislative Preview: Children's Health Insurance Program
The Children’s Health Insurance Program covers 8.9 million kids whose families don’t meet the income requirements to qualify for Medicaid but who might not otherwise be able to afford health insurance. The program, created in 1997, provides grants to states and is supplemented by state funding. CHIP has traditionally had bipartisan support and has helped increase the insured rate for children to 95 percent nationwide. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP is not an entitlement program and must be renewed regularly. Under the 2010 health care law, states were required to maintain eligibility requirements that were in place that year until 2019. However, federal funding for the program will be exhausted by Sept. 30. (Raman, 9/5)

The New York Times: Congress Returns To A Busy Schedule: Here’s What’s On The Agenda
The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides coverage for nearly 9 million children in low- and moderate-income families at a cost of about $15 billion a year. But funding for the program is set to expire Sept. 30, and Congress must renew it. That renewal could provide a vehicle for legislation to help stabilize the individual insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, which have grown shaky as insurers have pulled out and premiums have risen. (Stolberg, 9/5)

4. Senate Parliamentarian Just Put A Ticking Clock On Repeal Via Reconciliation

Senators have until the end of the month to make changes to the health law using the reconciliation method. After that they'll either have to get the 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster or restore the ability to use a 51-vote majority for repeal.

The Associated Press: GOP Ability To Dismantle Health Law Expires At Month's End
Senate Republicans will soon run out of time to rely on their slim majority to dismantle the Obama health law. The Senate parliamentarian has determined that rules governing the effort will expire when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, according to independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. The rules allow Republicans to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law with just 51 votes, avoiding a filibuster. (9/1)

Politico: Moment Of Truth Arrives For Obamacare Repeal
In a potential death knell for efforts to repeal Obamacare — at least this year — the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Republicans face a Sept. 30 deadline to kill or overhaul the law with only 50 votes, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee said Friday. Congress is facing fights in September over boosting the federal debt limit, government funding, defense programs and the FAA, among other issues. Adding another Obamacare repeal battle to that schedule could prove too much for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has all but said he's moving on from health care. (Pradhan and Bresnahan, 9/1)

The Hill: Senate Rulemaker: Fast-Track For ObamaCare Repeal Ends This Month 
The move severely limits the amount of time Republicans have to pass a repeal of ObamaCare. Chances for repeal had already plummeted after the Senate failed to pass a bill in July, but some Republicans are still holding out hope. After Sept. 30, Republicans would need 60 votes in the Senate, meaning they would need eight Democrats to vote for a repeal bill, which will not happen. (Sullivan, 9/1)

CQ News: Parliamentarian Says Reconciliation Instructions End Sept. 30
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is ranking member on Senate Budget, announced the parliamentarian’s decision. In a news release, he called the determination “a major victory for the American people and everyone who fought against President Trump’s attempt to take away health care from up to 32 million people.” Sanders added that both parties “need to work together to expand, not cut, health care for millions of Americans who desperately need it.” (Krawzak, 9/1)

Modern Healthcare: Senate Parliamentarian's Ruling Dims Odds For New ACA Repeal Bill
Experts said parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough's ruling that the fiscal 2017 budget reconciliation instruction for healthcare legislation expires on Sept. 30 significantly dims prospects for such legislation this year. The House and Senate approved that instruction in January. "Having a fixed deadline of Sept. 30 would be quite tough even if there was nothing else on Congress' plate," said Sarah Binder, an expert on congressional procedure at George Washington University. "But there doesn't seem to be much of a coalition built for the Cassidy-Graham bill, and Republicans have to get into October without shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt." (Meyer, 9/1)

5. Bipartisan Health Plan Gains Support Even As Trump Urges Senators To Let Marketplace Implode

The proposal from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) focuses on shoring up the individual exchanges. Meanwhile, states have been working for years to put in place bipartisan compromises to make the health law sustainable, and they might become a source of inspiration for federal lawmakers.

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Push On Bipartisan Health Proposal Signals Deeper Rift Between GOP, Trump
A number of Senate Republicans are gathering behind a bipartisan push to shore up the Affordable Care Act, reflecting a growing divide between President Donald Trump and many GOP senators. Republicans brushed off a call by Mr. Trump to continue working on a repeal of the 2010 health-care law after their bill to roll back and replace it failed by a single vote in the Senate in late July. Mr. Trump has called for letting the ACA implode on its own, and on Thursday the administration cut funding for ads and grants to encourage ACA sign-ups, a move that Democrats said would destabilize insurance markets. (Armour and son, 9/1)

Politico: Senate’s Obamacare Fixes Would Build On Heavy Lifting By States
While Congress was busy bickering over repealing the health law, officials in red and blue states worked frantically to soothe anxious insurers, tamp down rate increases and insulate their markets from the ceaseless chaos in Washington. The result is an Obamacare system that’s still vulnerable, but far from the “disaster” President Donald Trump and his top health officials describe. (Cancryn, 9/5)

Los Angeles Times: As Some In Congress Look To Move Past The Obamacare Standoff, States Offer A More Bipartisan Model
With interest growing among congressional Republicans and Democrats in modifying the Affordable Care Act to bolster the nation’s health insurance markets, states are emerging as potential models for bipartisan cooperation. The political battling over the 2010 healthcare law, widely known as Obamacare, may not be over, especially with President Trump continuing to undermine the law. (Levey, 9/3)

And, in other news —

Bloomberg: Paul Ryan Calls Alternative Health-Care Proposal ‘Intriguing’
House Speaker Paul Ryan said a health-care plan floated by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana “has got merit and has legs under it.” The comments, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, are Ryan’s most encouraging words yet for a proposal that grew out of the Senate̵

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