KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: Obama Appeals To Seniors; Senate And Jobs Bill; Berwick Controversy Continues

News outlets followed President Obama's speech about health reform, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's confidence on passage of the jobs bill with the Medicare "doc fix" and a judge's injunction barring thousands of nurses from striking.

Health-Care Debate Still Alive And Well For Parties
There was a year of hearings, speeches and protests. Three bills passed in the House to complete the process, and two in the Senate. President Obama held several events to commemorate signing the legislation into law. But the two parties are still arguing about health-care reform (The Washington Post). 

Health Care Battle Flares Anew
President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans have reinvigorated their clash over health care as they fight for the hearts and minds of midterm election voters (Roll Call).

Obama Lobbies Elderly On Benefits Of Health Law
President Obama dipped back into the volatile politics of health care on Tuesday, using a televised question-and-answer session to attack his Republican critics and remind retirees that the check - a new $250 rebate to help them pay for prescription drugs - is about to go in the mail (The New York Times). 

Obama Resells Health Law To Seniors
President Barack Obama returned to selling his overhaul of the health-care system Tuesday in an effort to win over seniors who are leery of its cuts to Medicare funding (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama, Democrats Launch Health Care Push
With a speech on Tuesday, President Obama rolls out the first stages of implementing the health care overhaul. The public remains ambivalent about the new law, but polls suggest most are willing to let it play out before judging it. The administration and its Democratic Party allies are launching a campaign to sell it to the American people (NPR).

Obama Promotes Health Plan's Drug Rebates For Seniors
Facing continued public skepticism about the new healthcare law, President Obama traveled to Maryland on Tuesday to tout the distribution of $250 rebate checks for senior citizens who hit the so-called doughnut hole in Medicare's drug coverage, one of the law's first benefits (Los Angeles Times). 

Obama Rolls Out 'Roll Back' Rhetoric
President Barack Obama took on health reform critics at a nationally televised town hall meeting Tuesday in a counter move to Republicans' call for repeal, whom he says aim to "roll back" benefits (Politico).

Why Is Obama Still Pushing Health Reform? 
Polls show Americans remain split in their opinion of Obama's health care effort, so the administration is trying to quiet voter doubts in advance of fall mid-term elections. Since many of the bill's major changes don't take effect for years, officials are highlighting those things that happen soon – such as the "doughnut hole" rebate – in their attempt to garner favorable public opinion (The Christian Science Monitor).

GOP Stalls Nomination For Leader Of Medicare 
Dr. Donald Berwick is President Obama's pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It's not only the agency that oversees the nation's two largest health care programs, but the one that will play a pivotal role in implementing the new health care law (NPR).

Spill Drowns Out GOP Health Message
House Republican leaders held a news conference the other day to roll out a bill that would repeal and replace the Democrats' health care overhaul. Only a handful of reporters showed up (Politico).

Senate Dems Close On Jobs Bill
Months have already been consumed on this bill, and new Senate changes mean the unwieldy package will have to go back to the House, which only narrowly passed its version before Memorial Day. But revenue deals at the expense of the oil industry now unite most Democrats, and the restoration of $24 billion in state aid is a calculated gamble to bring governors off the sidelines and ask senators to support the bill and forestall deeper budget cuts and layoffs at home (Politico).

Harry Reid: Extenders Bill Will Pass
Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday expressed confidence they can pass the tax extenders bill through their chamber next week. … The bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) deviates from the House-passed version by extending $24 billion in state aid for Medicaid and easing the tax burden on so-called carried interest paid by hedge fund managers, venture capitalists and real estate partnerships (The Hill).

State's Health Coverage Still High
Massachusetts residents have largely been able to hang on to health insurance, despite the deep and lingering recession and widespread unemployment, according to a study released yesterday by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank (The Boston Globe).

Medical Board Says MDs Cheated
The American Board of Internal Medicine is moving against nearly 140 doctors who it says cheated on the organization's certification exams by seeking out, sharing and in some cases purchasing actual test questions from a board-review company (The Wall Street Journal).

Judge Temporarily Bars Nurses' Strike At UC Hospitals
A California judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday barring thousands of nurses from striking this week at University of California hospitals and student health centers (Los Angeles Times). 

Sale Not Yet Ok'd, Caritas Aims To Expand
Although regulators have yet to approve the sale of Caritas Christi Health Care to a New York investment firm, the hospital chain is already taking steps to expand by buying other community hospitals (The Boston Globe).

AP Poll: Money Is A Huge Consideration In Pet Care
When a vet told Nancy Gates that her dog Arabella had heart problems, needed surgery and it would cost $500, she had no choice but to put her pet down (The Associated Press).


The Efficiency Expert Healthcare Needs Los Angeles Times
Republican criticism of Donald Berwick, Obama's pick to run Medicare and Medicaid, is unfounded and irrational. … Only in the topsy-turvy world in which end-of-life counseling services are called "death panels" could a doctor who champions patients' rights and better medical treatment be labeled a threat to healthcare consumers (6/9).

How Health Care Reform Must Bend The Cost Curve Health Affairs
The true measure of health care reform's success is whether it drives down medical costs over the long term. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has several features designed to modernize the delivery of services and thus ensure a more efficient, more effective, and less expensive health care system. … The success of these efforts at controlling long-run cost growth will require activism from the government and the private sector (David Cutler, June 2010).

Health Care Reform Is Likely To Widen Federal Budget Deficits, Not Reduce Them  Health Affairs
The official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicates modest deficit reduction over the next ten years and beyond. We examine the underpinnings of the CBO's projection and conclude that it is built on a shaky foundation of omitted costs, premiums shifted from other entitlements, and politically dubious spending cuts and revenue increases (Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Michael J. Ramlet, June 2010). 

Medical Innovation Is Economic Key Politico
Experts project that the health care sector will generate 3 million jobs from 2006 to 2016, with significant growth due to medical innovation. From lab coats to hard hats, medical innovation creates an array of high-paying positions across academic disciplines, management fields, health services and skilled trades (Dick Gephardt, 6/9).

Two Steps Forward in the War Against Cancer The Wall Street Journal
The time from lab to market for new drugs keeps getting shorter, but bad government policies threaten to reverse this trend (6/9). 

Albany's So-Called Governing  The New York Times
This week, [lawmakers] approved a $57 billion health package with $775 million in health care savings. Most of the cuts seem judicious and minimally painful … The shame is that there are few real reforms here, and no tax on sugary beverages to help pay for health care (6/9).

The District Loses Its Effective HIV/AIDS Chief  The Washington Post
Well, in March 2008, we learned that at least 3 percent of the entire population of the District of Columbia is living with HIV/AIDS. And the reason we even know this harrowing statistic is because of Dr. Shannon Hader (Jonathan Capehart, 6/9). 




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