KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 22, 2011

Today's headlines include a variety of reports about the political reactions to the Democratic and Republican deficit proposals as well as plans for Medicare.

Kaiser Health News: Finding A Path Through The 'Gobbledygook' Of The Insurance Market
Writing for Kaiser Health News, Lisa Drew reports: "My ZIP code is a black hole for individual health insurance. That's what I recently discovered when I tried to find the coverage I want at an affordable price. What hubris I had" (Drew, 4/21).

Kaiser Health News: Video: A Novel Way To Get Unlimited Primary Care
Michelle Andrews, author of Kaiser Health News's "Insuring Your Health" weekly feature, talks with Jackie Judd about clinics that charge a patient a monthly fee – usually around $65 – for unlimited access to physicians and nurse practitioners (4/21).

Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: There Aren't Enough Rich People To Pay For Medicare And Medicaid!
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Robert Laszewski writes: "I hear more and more of my progressive friends arguing, in the context of deficit reduction, that we should be raising taxes before getting aggressive about reducing the cost of Medicare and Medicaid -- as well as Social Security. To a point, I agree" (4/21).

The Washington Post: Report: Obama Deficit Plan 'Falls Short' Of Fiscal Commission, House GOP Targets
President Obama's deficit-reduction plan "falls short" of targets set by House Republicans and Obama's own fiscal commission and would be unlikely to stabilize borrowing, according to a new independent analysis. … The committee's analysis was based on the proposed savings offered in Obama's framework through 2021, including $130 billion in cuts to defense and security spending, $450 billion in cuts to domestic programs, more than $600 billion in cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and nearly $800 billion in fresh revenue from an overhaul of the tax code. The committee did not take into account the "debt fail-safe" Obama proposed, a sort of trigger that would force additional cuts if deficit targets were not met by 2014 (Montgomery, 4/21).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Makes His Case In California
President Obama sought to bolster California supporters Thursday by arguing that his administration has achieved a number of key goals, from healthcare reform to tax cuts, while acknowledging that delivering on the promises he made in 2008 has been more difficult than he had expected (Mehta and Reston, 4/21).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan's Budget Draws Boos, Highlights Risk To GOP
Rep. Paul Ryan, the face of the GOP's efforts to scale back the size of the federal government and trim the federal deficit, was booed by some Wisconsin constituents this week, but not for the reason you might think. Ryan's budget plan, as overwhelmingly approved by the House, would convert Medicare into a program which would provide seniors with subsidies to purchase private health insurance. But as Ryan returned home along with the other 240 Republican members to explain the budget blueprint to voters, he received heat not for the Medicare proposal, but for his call to cut taxes for wealthy Americans (Oliphant, 4/21).

The Morning Call/Los Angeles Times: Pennsylvania Lawmaker Faces Heat Over Medicare At Town Hall
Reminiscent of the August 2009 town halls when members of Congress faced angry constituents over health care reforms, a public forum in Carbon County with Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) Wednesday night provided a glimpse of the strong emotions stirred by a Republican plan to alter Medicare benefits (Itkowitz, 4/21).

Politico: New Gingrich Rejects Paul Ryan Plan To End Medicare
Newt Gingrich has embraced Rep. Paul Ryan. But his budget plan? Not all of it. Gingrich on his Facebook page inched away from Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it and give seniors private insurance plans partially subsidized by the federal government (Marr, 4/21).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Gingrich Steps Away From Ryan Budget
In a post on his Facebook page Wednesday, Mr. Gingrich – a likely presidential candidate – instead embraced a voluntary plan that would give seniors the option to choose private plans without explicitly abolishing Medicare as we know it. That is in line with a Medicare proposal by former Democratic Congressional Budget Office director Alice Rivlin and former Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, once embraced, then rejected by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Weisman, 4/21).

The Washington Post: Giffords's Office Seeks To Close Gap In Traumatic Brain-Injury Care
Staff members for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) have emerged as key advocates in a campaign to ensure the new health-care law guarantees more Americans who suffer traumatic brain injuries the high quality of care the congresswoman is receiving to recover from a January shooting (Aizenman, 4/21).

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