KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: October 22, 2009

Some clear themes emerge from today's headlines. Among them: A new government report indicates that health costs grow even faster under Democratic legislation pending in the House; and, yesterday's Senate vote to block the Medicare pay fix bill represents an important loss for Majority Leader Harry Reid.

As Congress Moves To Cut Medicare Advantage Funding, Some Seniors Could Get Reprieve
Nearly three million of the 10.5 million seniors in private Medicare health plans would be at least partly shielded from the planned cuts to the program under the Senate Finance Committee health overhaul bill, according to a KHN analysis of the legislation (Kaiser Health News).

Key Senators May Rebuff Obama On Health Care
The Democrats' control of a hefty majority in the Senate - plus the House - would suggest that President Barack Obama is within reach of overhauling the nation's health care system this fall (The Associated Press).

Looking To Unite Democrats On Health Reform, Obama Takes Partisan Tone
In sharp contrast to how he got elected, President Barack Obama is bashing Republicans this week while urging Democrats to unite behind his effort to reform the nation's healthcare system (The Hill).

US Health Care Tab Would Grow Under Overhaul
The nation's medical costs will keep spiraling upward even faster than they are now under Democratic legislation pending in the House, a report from government economic experts concluded Wednesday (The Associated Press).

Audit Shows Higher Spending Under House Health Bill Over 10 Years
A healthcare reform bill approved by a House committee in July would increase national spending on healthcare by 2.1 percent over 10 years, according to federal auditors (The Hill).

Democrats Lose Big Test Vote On Health Legislation
Democrats lost a big test vote on health care legislation on Wednesday as the Senate blocked action on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years (The New York Times).

Senate Blocks Medicare Payment Bill
With budget anxieties pervading the congressional healthcare debate, the Senate on Wednesday sidetracked popular legislation that would have increased Medicare payments to doctors by nearly $250 billion over the next decade (Los Angeles Times).

Vote On Medicare Payment Cuts Divides Democrats
The Senate on Wednesday voted down a measure that would have permanently prevented Medicare payment cuts to doctors, with a split in the Democratic vote showing there remains room for disagreement on the health-care front within the party (The Wall Street Journal).

Miscalculation Delivers Loss For Reid On Medicare Doc Fix
In sharp contrast to how he got elected, President Barack Obama is bashing Republicans this week while urging Democrats to unite behind his effort to reform the nation's healthcare system (The Hill).

Reid, Pelosi Get Dose Of Tough Medicine
Public option - yes or no - has been at the heart of the debate on health reform all year, but Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were reminded Wednesday that the obstacles to getting a bill done are even bigger than that (Politico).

Democrats Go After Antitrust Exemption For Insurers
Democrats launched a drive at both ends of the Capitol on Wednesday to strip the insurance industry of its decades-old exemption from federal antitrust laws, part of an increasingly bare-knuckled struggle over landmark health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama (The Associated Press).

Health Care Groups Lobby At Record Pace
The drug and insurance industries have dramatically amped up their efforts to lobby Congress, spending millions over a three-month period to influence legislation aimed at reshaping the nation's health care system, new reports show (USA Today).

Paterson Administration Fears Cost Of U.S. Health Care Overhaul
The Paterson administration is raising alarms that health care legislation taking shape in Washington could drive up deficits and punish New York and other states that have expanded Medicaid coverage on their own (The New York Times).

In Mass., Most Docs Support State's Health Mandate
As Massachusetts enters its fourth year under a sweeping law that aims to get nearly everybody health insurance, there's new evidence on what one crucial constituency thinks about it: doctors (NPR).

What Lessons Massachusetts Holds For US Healthcare Reform
A mandate on individuals to buy health insurance can work – just don't expect it to reduce the cost of care. That, in a nutshell, may be the lesson from Massachusetts as Americans consider healthcare reform ideas backed by President Obama (The Christian Science Monitor).

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