KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: October 16, 2009

Partisan intrigues and policy differences continue to dominate the headlines.

Ad Audit: Do The Insurers' Claims Add Up?
Upset that the Senate Finance Committee health legislation would allow millions of people to continue going without health coverage, the insurance industry launched an ad campaign against the bill. Its aim: To convince seniors they'd be losers under the legislation – in large part because of a proposal to cut payments to Medicare Advantage, the private plan part of Medicare (Kaiser Health News).

Health Care Overhaul Rests On Reid
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hails from the hard-rock mining town of Searchlight, Nev. He once made a name for himself there as an amateur boxer. But in what may be his biggest fight yet, Reid is playing referee. He is leading the effort to combine two sharply different health care bills (NPR).

Healthcare Reform Adds To Troubles Of Senators Reid And Dodd
Two of the three Democrats charged with producing a Senate healthcare bill to take to the floor – Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut – face tough reelection bids in 2010 (The Christian Science Monitor).

Democrats Address Their Own Rifts On Health Care
Deep fissures among Senate Democrats became evident on Thursday as lawmakers moved closer to a floor debate on legislation to remake the health care system (The New York Times).

Baucus: All Senate Dems Will Support Health Bill
When it comes time to vote, every Democrat in the Senate - and perhaps more than one Republican - will support legislation overhauling the nation's health care system, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee predicted Thursday (The Associated Press).

In Saying No, G.O.P. Sees More Pros Than Cons
The numbers are striking: Of the 217 Republicans in the House and the Senate, only one, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, has publicly supported a health care overhaul along the lines President Obama seeks (The New York Times).

In Senate Healthcare Showdown, Swing Voters Look To Play Trump Cards
With Republicans almost unanimously opposed to a healthcare overhaul and with 60 votes needed to thwart a threatened GOP filibuster, every Democrat and independent has become vital for Senate strategists (Los Angeles Times).

CBO Estimates House Health Bill At $905B Or Less
Congressional budget analysts have given House leaders cost estimates for two competing versions of their plan to overhaul the health-care system, concluding that one comes within striking distance of the $900 billion limit set by President Obama and the other falls below it (The Washington Post).

Pelosi: Time To Know Where Caucus Stands On Public Healthcare Option
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday told fellow Democrats the time has come for all members of the party to say where they stand on the government-run health insurance program (The Hill).

Pelosi Joins Fellow Democrats In Tough Talk For Health Insurance
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned insurance companies on Thursday that health-care reform could cost the industry dearly through new fees, fewer regulatory protections and fresh competition from the federal government (The Washington Post).

Public Option Backers Fight On
The forces in favor of a public health insurance option roared back Thursday on Capitol Hill after weeks when their cause looked bleak (Politico).

Democrats Weigh Wider Coverage
Senate Democrats may widen insurance coverage in sweeping health legislation, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Thursday, but they face a struggle to come up with ways to pay for the extra spending (The Wall Street Journal).

Wellness Incentives Could Create Health-Care Loophole
The bipartisan initiative, largely eclipsed in the health-care debate, builds on a trend that is in play among some corporations and that more workers will see in the benefits packages they bring home during this fall's open enrollment. Some employers offer lower premiums to workers who complete personal health assessments; others limit coverage for smokers (The Washington Post).

The White House's Unlikely Union With Health Lobby
At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform (Politico).

Doctors Begin TV Ads Pressing Congress On Medicare
The American Medical Association is launching a coast-to-coast TV ad campaign to press Congress to approve higher payments for doctors treating Medicare patients (The Associated Press).

Senate Move On Medicare Payments Sets Up Pay-Go Showdown With House
Already at odds over healthcare, the Democratically controlled House and Senate are now on a collision course over legislation to require both chambers to pay for everything they pass (The Hill).

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