KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: December 2, 2010

Today's health policy headlines include news about how the debt panel's plan would boost costs for seniors on Medicare; how parts of the GOP are making clear their positions regarding health reform "repeal and replace" strategy; and how limited health plans faced critics at a Senate hearing.   

Drug Lobby's Tax Filings Reveal Health Debate Role
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Bara Vaida and Christopher Weaver write: "It's official. The drug industry's chief lobbyists - the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America - raised and spent at least $101.2 million in 2009 on advocacy efforts during the contentious health care debate, according to IRS documents the group filed in mid-November" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: The Senate's Object Lesson For GOP Health Law Repeal Hopes
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Critics of health care reform this week thought they would get their first win in the campaign to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Instead they got a lesson in just how politically challenging a wholesale repeal might be" (Kaiser Health News).

Deficit Panel Tackles Health Care Costs, The Unfinished Business Of Obama's Overhaul
The health care cuts proposed by President Barack Obama's deficit commission would reach virtually every corner of society, making cost curbs in the new overhaul law look tame by comparison (The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times).

Plan To Cut Deficit Would Sock Seniors On Medicare
Apparently the president's blue-ribbon panel on reducing the federal debt didn't get the memo about Medicare being the third rail of politics. You know, touch it and die (NPR).

Deficit Plan Would Boost Medicare Costs For Seniors
Among the sleeper provisions contained in the presidential fiscal commission's final proposal released Wednesday, none will generate more controversy than the recommendations to contain Medicare costs in the coming decade (The Fiscal Times).

GOP Governors Tell Boehner: Give Us 'Flexibility'
More than a dozen Republican governors-elect plotted ways to unravel the Democrats' health-care overhaul and to give states more freedom in regulating programs like Medicaid during a meeting late Wednesday with incoming Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire).

Tea Partiers Resist GOP Healthcare Repeal Tactic
Tea Party lawmakers are balking at the House Republican leadership's plan to simultaneously repeal and replace President Obama's healthcare law (The Hill).

Opponents Take Aim At Limited Health Plans
Maybe something isn't always better than nothing. Or so went the argument offered by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat, in a hearing on Wednesday about a controversial kind of health plan that seems destined to remain on the market for the next several years (The New York Times).

Senators Attack McDonald's Health Plan
Senate Democrats accused McDonald's Corp. of offering hourly workers a bad deal on health insurance, prompting a strong defense from a top McDonald's executive who disclosed fresh details about the chain's benefits (The Wall Street Journal).

Health Premiums Surge 41%; Md., D.C. Among Costliest Areas To Insure
Premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance increased an average of 41 percent across states from 2003 to 2009, more than three times faster than median incomes, and Maryland's rise was among the highest, at 50 percent, according to a report to be released Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund (The Washington Post).

Three Ideas For Addressing Prescription-Drug Pricing
If you were hoping that the new health-care reform law will address the issue of prescription-drug pricing, think again, says a new report from Deloitte (The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog).

Union: Health-Care Reforms Not To Blame For Coverage Woes
A union health-insurance fund that dropped coverage for some 6,000 children in New York backed away from previous claims blaming, in part, health-care laws championed by the Obama administration for the decision. A statement issued Tuesday by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, restated the union's support for new federal health-care laws (The Wall Street Journal).

FDA Panel Rejects Expanded Use Of Prostate Drug
The question before the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee on Tuesday was path-breaking: Would it recommend that the labels of two drugs be changed to say that they can reduce a man's risk of getting prostate cancer? … But the answer was a resounding no. There was too much uncertainty about long-term consequences, the committee said, especially if the drugs would be used by hundreds of thousands of healthy people" (The New York Times).

Bush Stem Cell Policy May Return
Congress is running out of time to pass legislation allowing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, potentially setting up the resumption of a Bush-era policy that President Obama reversed with fanfare shortly after taking office (The Hill).

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