KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 28, 2011

Today's headlines include reports that President Obama is expected to really the health reform troops in a speech today.

Kaiser Health News: Doctors Continued To Spend Big On Lobbying In 2010
Reporting for KHN, Bara Vaida writes: "The health care battle didn't end for doctors with the passage of the federal health law and their spending shows it" (Vaida, 1/27). Read the related chart.

Politico: Barack Obama Fires Up The Health Team
President Barack Obama may have said "let's fix it and move on" in his State of the Union address, but the president is sending messages that he is ready to roll up his sleeves and keep fighting the health care battle as long as he needs to. Obama will address the annual conference for Families USA today armed with a new HHS report that shows health insurance premiums will be 14-20 percent lower in 2014 than they would have been without the law, POLITICO has learned (Nocera and Haberkorn, 1/28).

The Associated Press: Did Obama Administration Stretch Health Care Stat?
Without President Barack Obama's health care law, as many as 129 million Americans - half of those under age 65 - could be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing medical condition. The new estimate by the Health and Human Services Department is more than twice as high as a figure that supporters of the law were using last year. It just might need an asterisk (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/28).

The Associated Press: House GOP Considers Privatizing Medicare
Months after they hammered Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize the health program for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is testing support for his idea to replace Medicare with a fixed payment to buy a private medical plan from a menu of coverage options (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Chili's Feels Heat To Pare Costs
Chili's acknowledges that many of the changes it is making are being done in preparation for expanded health-care coverage. Chili's says it already provides various health-care packages to part- and full-time employees, and it says it isn't exactly sure what the new law will mean-but it is sure its costs will rise. While the company has been stressing operational efficiency, it has also been able to reduce staff (Jargon, 1/28).

The New York Times Prescriptions Blog: Prospects For Private Health Insurance
One of the major concerns about the new health care law is whether it will usher in the demise of employer-based coverage, which is the source of insurance for the bulk of working Americans today. A new report from Booz & Company, the management consulting firm, suggests that much of the worry that private health insurance will disappear is misplaced (Abelson, 1/27).

The Wall Street Journal:  Justice Department Files Suit Over Guidant Defibrillators
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday filed a civil lawsuit against Boston Scientific Corp. and its Guidant subsidiary, alleging the Medicare program wrongly paid for heart devices that Guidant knew were faulty (Kendall, 1/27).

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