GOP hoping to keep debate on health reform law in the spotlight

Republican leaders hoping to eventually repeal the healthcare reform law are finding the situation a tough row to hoe of late, thanks in no small part to continued coverage of the BP oil spill. Still, one area where the GOP might be able to make some headway is in opposition of Dr. Donald Berwick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to NPR News

Republican senators have painted Berwick as someone intent on rationing healthcare and bringing a model of care similar to Britain's National Health Service to the U.S. "[I]t scares people," Neera Tanden, of the Center for American Progress, told NPR. "[I]t really deprives the agency of one of the premiere thinkers in the strategy because he's silent during the process; he can't write extensively, he can't comment, and he's not [at the Department of Health and Human Services]....[T]he question for [Democrats] is whether they can... defend their vote, defend the legislation, and talk about economic issues in their district" all at the same time. 

Other efforts by the GOP to keep healthcare reform in the limelight have had varying measures of success. Earlier in the week, House Republicans called a press conference to unveil a bill that ultimately would repeal and replace the current health law; according to Politico, "only a handful of reporters showed up" to the event, though. 

On the other hand, efforts by states such as Virginia are keeping the news firmly entrenched in the spotlight. After Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli challenged the constitutionality of the health reform law based on a recently passed state law exempting residents from being required to have health coverage, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called for the suit to be dismissed. Cuccinelli's response to Sebelius has made headlines this week, and won't be settled until at least July 1, when a hearing on the motion to dismiss is set to take place. 

For more information:
- read the NPR News article
- check out this Politico piece
- read this Associated Press story, via Businessweek

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