KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: December 10, 2009

Today's headlines reflect Democrats' optimism surrounding the tentative agreement reached in the Senate just as questions about its specifics emerge.

Ethicist Callahan: 'Set Limits' On Health Care
For decades, ethicist Daniel Callahan has argued that expensive medical care be parceled out carefully – essentially rationed – for elderly patients. Now, at 79, his quest to stem late-in-life spending is coming face to face with his own mortality (Kaiser Health News).

White House Pins Hopes On Senate's Deal
President Barack Obama on Wednesday endorsed a Senate Democratic compromise that backed away from a big government-run health plan, calling the idea a "creative framework" that could propel a health bill to passage (The Wall Street Journal).

Senate Democrats See Room For Hope On Health Care Bill
Senate Democrats said on Wednesday that they were not sure exactly what was in a deal that the majority leader said would surmount a disagreement over a proposed government-run health plan. But they voiced guarded optimism that it would ultimately help them pass major health care legislation (The New York Times).

Senate Democrats Satisfied With Deal
Senate Democrats on Wednesday largely embraced a compromise that dropped a "public option" from health-care legislation, setting aside their concerns about aspects of the consensus plan in the hopes that the deal hatched by negotiators would serve as a rallying point in their push for the passage of reforms (The Washington Post).

Senate Democrats Near Deal On Health Care
Details continue to trickle out about the potential deal reached Tuesday night among a small group of Senate Democrats to try to spring the health care overhaul bill from its state of legislative limbo (NPR).

Public Option Keeps Toehold In Senate Deal On Health Bill
The 'broad agreement' that Senator Harry Reid announced Tuesday night on the proposed overhaul of the health care system was less a comprehensive accord among Democrats than an effort by the party's leaders to keep the process moving ahead, even as Republicans attempt to prolong a seemingly endless floor fight (The New York Times).

Medicare Expansion Idea Raises Healthcare Reform Hopes
The new proposal for breaking the healthcare impasse in the Senate -- based on a large expansion of the Medicare program -- raised hopes Wednesday among Democrats that the way may be clearing to pass their massive bill by Christmas (Los Angeles Times).

Will Senate Democrats' Healthcare Reform Tradeoffs Seal The Deal?
With a breakthrough in negotiations announced Tuesday night, Senate Democrats are closing in on a historic overhaul of US healthcare – even if no Republicans join them (The Christian Science Monitor).

Companies Fret Over Expanded Government Role
Health-care companies greeted a Senate health-care bill compromise warily on Wednesday, worried that a proposed expansion of Medicare would raise costs and result in greater government control of parts of the industry (The Wall Street Journal).

Medical Groups Balk At Medicare 'Buy-In'
Hospital and doctor groups that have generally supported the effort to revamp the nation's health care system pushed back Wednesday against a new idea proposed by Democratic leaders to let younger Americans buy into Medicare (USA Today).

For Some Ages 55 to 64, Medicare Will Cost Too Much
Millions more Americans could get access to Medicare under the latest health proposal by Senate Democrats. But the program may not be cheap enough to entice some of them to sign up (The Wall Street Journal).

Liberals' Public Option Dream Fading
It seemed like the only thing Democrats talked about for a year, the big idea that would transform health care in America - a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers (Politico).

Despite Talk Of Breakthrough, Still No Clear Path To Public Option
A day after Senate leaders announced a breakthrough on the thorny issue of the public option, it was still unclear Wednesday whether the tentative pact had in fact broken the deadlock (Politico).

If 'Public Option' Is No Longer An Option In Senate Bill, Then What?
While confusion reigned on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over the prospects and details of a Senate deal to replace a government-run insurance plan with other measures, it is not too soon to ask what the proposal would mean for regular people (The Washington Post).

Not So Fast, Say Senators On Health Bill As They Anticipate Price Tag
Liberal and centrist senators at the center of the healthcare debate bought themselves more time Wednesday, saying they would decide how to vote after they saw the bill's final price tag (The Hill).

Senate Health Bill Stalls As Costs Are Figured
Senator Patrick Leahy told reporters yesterday that he his wife have canceled their plans to spend Christmas at their farmhouse in Vermont, reluctantly concluding that the Senate would probably be stuck in Washington working on its massive health care package right up until the holiday (The Boston Globe).

New Health Care Benefits Come At A Price
President Barack Obama's health care overhaul - now looking like a real possibility - should give uninsured Americans options they've never had before. But it won't be a free ride (The Associated Press).

Cost Of Medicare Buy-In Could Be Daunting
With all the fanfare about a potential political compromise on health overhaul that could let people ages 55 to 64 buy Medicare as their health coverage, you might be surprised to learn the idea has been kicking around for quite a while (NPR).

Little-Known Federal Agency Could Shoulder Big Healthcare Responsibility
A little-known federal agency with a relatively small staff and budget is a surprising new player in the debate to reform the nation's healthcare system (The Hill).

Showdown Vote Nears On Importing Low-Cost Drugs
A bipartisan group of lawmakers hopes to finally win a long struggle to ease curbs against importing low-cost prescription drugs but will have to overcome the Obama administration and the pharmaceutical industry to do so (The Associated Press).

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