Battle Over Health Law Brings Gov't To Brink Of Shutdown

A stopgap bill to fund the government when the fiscal year ends Oct. 1 continues to be caught up in Republican efforts to defund, delay or derail the health law. Federal agencies have contingency plans in place.

The New York Times: Senate Action On Health Law Moves To Brink Of Shutdown
The Senate is expected to reject decisively a House bill that would delay the full effect of President Obama’s health care law as a condition for keeping the government running past Monday, as Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, expressed confidence that he had public opinion on his side. Angering Republicans who lead the House, Mr. Reid kept the Senate shuttered on Sunday, in a calculated move to stall action on the House measure until Monday afternoon, just hours before the government’s spending authority runs out at midnight (Peters and Weisman, 9/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Government Heads Toward Shutdown
The nation braced for a partial shutdown of the federal government, as time for Congress to pass a budget before a Monday midnight deadline grew perilously short and lawmakers gave no signs Sunday they were moving toward a resolution. ... House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) urged Senate leaders to pass legislation that the Republican-controlled House had approved early Sunday morning, which would fund the government through mid-December. But that prospect was remote, as the House legislation included a one-year delay of the new federal health law that Democrats have vowed to reject, as well as a repeal of the new law's tax on medical devices (Hook and Peterson, 9/29).

The Associated Press: Who'll Blink? Dems, GOP In Shutdown Stare Down
With the government teetering on the brink of partial shutdown, congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine federal funding bill to try to attack the president's health care law. ... Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn't otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open on Tuesday, tea-party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the health care law (Taylor, 9/29).

Politico: Obamacare Medical Device Tax Assumes Big Role In Spending Battle
Along with a one-year delay in the president’s health law, House Republicans have included provisions repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices in their bill to fund federal agencies into the next fiscal year. And some have suggested the move to wipe out that tax might — at some point— become a path to compromise with the Senate. But Senate Democratic leaders have so far opposed the device tax as part of a short-term spending bill (Faler and Norman, 9/29).

The New York Times: Federal Agencies Lay Out Contingency Plans For Possible Shutdown
As Congress continued to spar on Saturday over a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running, federal agencies made contingency plans for a potential shutdown. ... Although more than half of the Department of Health and Human Services would be furloughed, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries would continue to receive services. Retirees would continue to get checks from the Social Security Administration. The rollout of President Obama’s health care law, with the first insurance marketplaces to go online starting on Tuesday, would continue because most of the money for that program was provided by the Affordable Care Act and other laws (Schmidt, Shanker and Siddons, 9/28).

CQ HealthBeat: More Than Half Of HHS Employees Would Be Furloughed In Shutdown
If the federal government shuts down next week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ contingency plan calls for furloughing more than half of its 78,198 employees. Services such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu program and the majority of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety activities would be suspended, according to a plan the agency posted on its website late Friday (Bunis, 9/27).

In other congressional action -

Reuters: U.S. House Passes Bill To Regulate Drug Compounding
The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to regulate companies that compound sterile drugs and ship them across state lines. The bill, called the Drug Quality and Security Act, now goes to the Senate for a vote. House and Senate committees agreed on the legislation on Wednesday (9/28).

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