KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 17, 2009

The central message in today's headlines: What's going to become of the public plan?  

Ad Audit: Club For Growth's Anti-Government Message
An anti-tax group goes after health care proposals in Congress, alleging they would lead to health care rationing and crushing government deficits. But the campaign includes some dubious comparisons with the British health system, and the group's recommended solutions are open to question (Kaiser Health News).

Checking In With Denver Health CEO Patricia Gabow On A 'Model' Health Care System
President Barack Obama's trip Saturday to Grand Junction, Colorado, was meant to highlight an efficient, high-quality health care system, one with "integrated care." That phrase has become a popular term these days as Congress and policy gurus contemplate how the national health care delivery system can be refined. But the idea is not so new. Denver Health, just a few hundred miles east of Grand Junction, began its own evolution into an integrated care system in 1949 with the opening of Denver General Hospital (Kaiser Health News).

Key Feature Of Obama Health Plan May Be Out
Racing to regain control of the health-care debate, two top administration officials signaled Sunday that the White House may be willing to jettison a controversial government-run insurance plan favored by liberals (The Washington Post).

'Public Option' In Health Plan May Be Dropped
The White House, facing increasing skepticism over President Obama's call for a public insurance plan to compete with the private sector, signaled Sunday that it was willing to compromise and would consider a proposal for a nonprofit health cooperative being developed in the Senate (The New York Times).

White House Backs Off Public Healthcare Option
The Obama administration signaled Sunday that it was on the verge of abandoning a government-run insurance option in its healthcare overhaul -- a bow to political reality and a big win for insurers (The New York Times).

Letter From Washington: Tough Slog On Health Care Plan Gets A Little Easier
A columnist for the online news magazine Slate once proposed that the month of August be banned, as "it has a dismal history" and "nothing good ever happens." A week ago, President Barack Obama might have cosponsored the suggestion (The New York Times).

Chances Dim For A Public Plan
The Obama administration gave its strongest signal yet that it would be willing to compromise on plans to expand the government's direct role in health-insurance coverage as it fights a growing crescendo of opposition to its effort to overhaul health care (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama Picks Fight With Left On Health Reform
In backing away from its support for a public option in healthcare reform, the Obama administration is picking a fight with the liberal wing of the Democratic party (The Hill).

Tennessee Experiment's High Cost Fuels Health-Care
In 1994, Tennessee launched an ambitious public insurance program to cover its uninsured. The plan, TennCare, fulfilled that mission but nearly bankrupted the state in the process (The Wall Street Journal).

Dispute Widens On Merits Of Health Tests
While cholesterol tests, cancer screenings, and other preventive measures can save lives, there is strong disagreement about whether they really reduce health care spending, because the tests themselves are costly and often lead to more doctor's visits and procedures. And now, that longstanding medical debate has become a big political sticking point (The Boston Globe).

In Arkansas, A Democrat Navigates The Health Fight
Nobody got in Senator Blanche Lincoln's face about health care last week. That was because she did not let them (The New York Times).

Obama Gets Personal During Health Care Town Hall In Colo.
President Obama has made it clear that his efforts to change the U.S. health care system have meaning to him personally (USA Today).

Obama's Health Ideas Elicit Support, Skepticism In Colorado
President Obama took his argument for healthcare overhaul Saturday to some of his harshest critics in this conservative Colorado city. When he took the stage in Grand Junction, he vowed to the crowd of about 1,500 that healthcare reform would pass this year. But for that to occur, he added, supporters would have to work from the grass roots (The Christian Science Monitor).

Dems Use Personal Touch To Sell Healthcare
Democrats seem to have a new strategy for fighting the "death panel" charges about healthcare reform legislation. They're telling their personal stories (The Hill).

GOP Gains Steam As Health Care Bill Sputters
After two terrible elections when independent voters turned away from the GOP and the party lost control of the White House and the Senate, Republicans finally have a little spring back in their step thanks to a health care debate that has done more to cool off Obama-mania and reignite the conservative base than even most of its leaders had hoped (Politico).

What Health Care Overhaul Means For You
How exactly would new health care overhaul legislation affect you? Click on the category below that best fits your situation and see what the major proposals currently before Congress would mean for you (NPR).

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