KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama’s Inaugural Health Care Moment: ‘Medicare, Medicaid … Strengthen Us’

News outlets covered the president's second inaugural address.

The Associated Press: Obama Says 'America's Possibilities Are Limitless' 
Declaring "our journey is not complete," President Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term before a crowd of hundreds of thousands Monday, urging the nation to set an unwavering course toward prosperity and freedom for all its citizens and protect the social safety net that has sheltered the poor, elderly and needy (Pace, 1/21).

NPR: In Address, Obama Begins Setting Second Term Agenda
President Obama began his second term with an unapologetically liberal inaugural address, calling on Americans to work together to preserve entitlements, address climate change and extend civil rights. ... "The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," the president said. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great" (Greenblatt, 1/21).

Politico: Obama: Medicare, Social Security Changes Only On My Terms
It wasn’t a new message, but by reinforcing it in his inaugural address, Obama doubled down on the boundaries he has drawn in his fight with Republicans over the next stages of deficit reduction. The president’s forceful defense of these social safety-net programs fit with a larger theme of his speech, defending the role of government in American society. "We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” Obama said (Nather, 1/21).

Earlier, several news outlets examined the president's signature health law.

The Hill: Obama Officials Ditch 'Exchanges' In Rebranding Of Healthcare Reform Law
The Obama administration is re-branding the central component of its signature healthcare law. The Health and Human Services Department suddenly stopped referring to insurance “exchanges” this week, even as it heralded ongoing efforts to prod states into setting up their own. Instead, press materials and a website for the public referred to insurance "marketplaces" in each state. The change comes amid a determined push by conservative activists to block state-based exchanges in hopes of crippling the federal implementation effort (Baker, 1/20). 

Politico: Obamacare 2.0: Judgment Awaits
Obamacare is going into effect next year for real — but what happens with President Barack Obama’s signature achievement in his second term is largely out of his hands. The biggest piece of the law — the expansion of coverage to as many as 30 million uninsured Americans — will begin in 2014. Obama may not say a word about that in his inaugural address. But the reality is, the success or failure of the health care law may define much of his second term, and that legacy is now in the hands of agency bureaucrats, volatile state capitols and employers, not to mention the whims of young uninsured consumers (Nather, 1/19). 

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Pinches Colleges
The federal health-care overhaul is prompting some colleges and universities to cut the hours of adjunct professors, renewing a debate about the pay and benefits of these freelance instructors who handle a significant share of teaching at U.S. higher-education institutions. The Affordable Care Act requires large employers to offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees who work 30 hours a week or more starting in 2014, or face a penalty. The mandate is a particular challenge for colleges and universities, which increasingly rely on adjuncts to help keep costs down as states have scaled back funding for higher education (Peters and Belkin, 1/18).

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