KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 28, 2011

Today's headlines feature reports about the varying public responses to plans for the budget and Medicare as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's intent to bring the House-passed Ryan budget up for a vote.

Kaiser Health News: (Video) Health On The Hill – GOP Medicare Plan Spurs Anger, Splits Public During Process
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with Jackie Judd about varied reaction by Americans and lawmakers to the GOP plan to reduce the deficit by making changes to Medicare as well as new efforts to get the deficit under control. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows most seniors oppose some GOP-proposed changes at a greater rate than the general public, which views it more favorably (4/27). Read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: (Audio) Federal Courts Weigh The Health Law
KHN's Bara Vaida joined Santa Clara University professor Brad Joondeph and The Washington Post's Marc Fisher on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, a syndicated public radio program, to discuss the progress of legal challenges to the law (4/27).

Kaiser Health News: Few Seniors Support GOP Plan To Restructure Medicare
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Senior citizens, whose fierce opposition to the 2010 health overhaul law helped propel Republicans' midterm election gains, have little appetite for the House GOP's plans to turn Medicare into a voucher-type program that sends beneficiaries to private plans but limits the amount of federal funding, according to a poll released today" (Galewitz, 4/27).

Los Angeles Times: Gallup Poll: Americans Evenly Split On Obama, Ryan Budget Plans
Yet the latest poll shows that the general public appears about evenly divided over how to handle the issue of deficits and budgets though the political parties' approaches are sharply at odds. President Obama has called for a combination of cuts and tax increases on the rich to bring down deficits over the long-term while keeping intact key entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Ryan … has proposed reshaping Medicare as a voucher-like program and Medicaid as a block grant program (Muskal, 4/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Focus On Medicare
Congressional Democrats, on the defensive for months on federal spending issues, see an opportunity to seize the political initiative by pushing to the forefront a House Republican plan to overhaul Medicare. In a sign of the his party's emboldened posture, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Wednesday he would soon bring the House measure to a Senate vote (Hook and Yadron, 4/28).

Politico: Harry Reid To Force Senate Vote On Paul Ryan's Budget
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he will hold a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan when Congress returns from recess - setting up a potential litmus test for Senate Republicans on whether they support Ryan's dramatic budget cuts. As Congress hurtles toward its late spring deadline to raise the nation's debt limit, Reid says he wants to force GOP senators to take a stand on the Ryan plan, which would overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, and cut trillions over the next decade (Shiner, 4/28).

NPR: Where Is The Public On Medicare? Depends How You Ask The Question
Depending on which side of the debate you're on, you can point to a poll right now that shows support for making major changes to the Medicare program, and one that shows major opposition. How come? Mostly because the questions used different wording (Rovner, 4/27).

Politico: Indiana Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood
The Indiana State Legislature has voted to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding, putting the state on a path to barring the group from receiving public dollars. The legislation now hits the desk of Gov. Mitch Daniels, putting the presidential contender who has famously called for a "truce" on social issues squarely in the middle of a contentious, national debate over Planned Parenthood's federal funding (Kliff, 4/27).

The Associated Press: Daniels Mulls Presidential Run, Contentious Bills
As Indiana's Republican governor mulls a presidential run in 2012, his home state is becoming a showcase of conservative ideas, poised to create the nation's broadest private school voucher system and become the first to cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood. And while Gov. Mitch Daniels has pushed the voucher program, the Planned Parenthood measure could present a political predicament for him as he nears an announcement on whether he will run for president (Martin and Davies, 4/28).

The New York Times: In Florida, HMO's Would Treat Medicaid Patients
A crucial experiment in the future of Medicaid is playing out in Florida, where both houses of the Legislature are vying to find ways to drastically cut costs, manage care and reduce waste and fraud. The cuts and changes being sought by the Republican-led Legislature and encouraged by the new Republican governor, Rick Scott, a wealthy former hospital company executive, are deeper than those in many other states (Alvarez, 4/27).

Los Angeles Times: Public Hospital President's Retirement Pay Spotlights Issue Of 'Supplemental' Pensions
When he turned 65 two years ago, Samuel Downing received a $3-million retirement payment from a public hospital district in Salinas, Calif., where he serves as president and chief executive. But Downing continued working at his $668,000-a-year job for another two years, and after he retires this week, he will receive another payment of nearly $900,000. That comes on top of his regular pension of $150,000 a year. The payments amount to one of the more generous pension packages granted to a public official in California and come amid growing debate about "supplemental" pensions that some officials receive on top of their basic retirement benefits (Allen, 4/28).

Chicago Tribune: Medical Marijuana Could Become Legal In Illinois
A stricter set of rules and a surprise political alliance are helping build momentum for a long-thwarted effort to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois (Wilson, 4/27).

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