KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 4, 2011

In today's news, reports about how lawmakers, lobbyists are lining up for the next phase of the deficit deal.

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: Debt Deal 'Super' Committtee's Impact On Health Spending Explained
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Phil Galewitz report: "The deal President Barack Obama and Congress struck this week to raise the nation's debt ceiling has prompted many questions about how a special "super committee" established by the law will affect federal health care programs" (Carey and Galewitz, 8/3).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: The Good, The Bad And The Costly News On HIV
On Capsules, the news blog, Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali S. Kulkarni writes: "New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that while the overall number of people who are infected with HIV each year is relatively steady - approximately 50,000 new infections each year - there was a 48 percent increase in the number of young HIV-infected African American men who have sex with men from 2006 to 2009." Also on the blog: Antidepressants Often Prescribed Without A  Diagnosis. Check out the blog.

The Associated Press: The Next Deficit Deal: There's A Rough Road Ahead
All sides will fiercely defend core priorities, Republicans opposing tax increases and defense cuts and Democrats protecting benefits for Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients. Those happen to be exactly where nonpartisan analysts say savings must occur for any serious deficit-cutting package to emerge (Fram and Cassata, 8/4).

The Wall Street Journal: Cantor Suggests Entitlement Promises Will Be Broken
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday suggested that Republicans will continue a push to overhaul programs such as Medicare, saying in an interview that "promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many" and that younger Americans will have to adjust. … His comments suggest that Republicans are committed to overhauling entitlement programs such as Medicare even after President Barack Obama signed into law a debt package under which Medicare recipients weren't hit with direct cuts. Congress left Medicare recipients untouched directly in order to win enough Democratic votes for the debt package to become law (Hughes, 8/3).

Politico: Cuts Could Endanger Health Care Law
The debt ceiling agreement could jeopardize millions of dollars, and perhaps billions, in initiatives from President Barack Obama's health care reform law if the super committee can't come up with required spending cuts. Many of the pots of money in the law - one of the Democrats' most prized pieces of legislation - could get trimmed by the debt deal's sequestration, or triggered cuts (Haberkorn, 8/3).

The New York Times: Jockeying Anew In Congress In Next Budget Fight Phase
Congressional leaders have two weeks to name panel members. Names of candidates were circulating Wednesday on Capitol Hill, and some lawmakers have been quietly promoting themselves or their friends for spots on the 12-member panel, which will consist of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats from the House and the Senate. Lobbyists scrambled Wednesday to figure out how to influence the new panel to protect the programs and tax breaks from which they benefit. Military contractors and health care lobbyists were particularly active, as they have the most to fear (Pear, 8/3).

The Washington Post: Debt-Limit Deal Triggers Lobbying Campaign From Health-Care And Defense Industries
Health-care and defense lobbyists are quickly gearing up for a major lobbying and public relations campaign in response to this week's debt-limit deal, which could force hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts for two of Washington's most powerful industries. The compromise bill that averted a government default this week includes $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts over the next decade if Congress can't agree on a broader deficit reduction plan by December. Most of that amount targets the Pentagon and Medicare providers (Eggen, 8/3).

The Associated Press: Health Law Windfall For Massachusetts Hospitals
Hospitals in Massachusetts will reap an annual windfall of $275 million due to a loophole enshrined in the new health care law. Hospitals in most other states will get less money as a result. The disclosure was buried in a regulation that Medicare issued late last week. Hospital association executives in other states are up in arms over the news, which comes at a time when they are girding for more cuts under the newly signed federal debt deal (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/4).

Los Angeles Times: Rates Drop For California Safety-Net Health Insurance
Californians who rely on safety-net health insurance are getting an unexpected break on their rates. The lucky recipients get their coverage through a little-known public program, started last fall, for people with preexisting medical conditions. The federal government foots most of the bill and recently gave the state, which runs the program, permission to lower rates (Helfand, 8/4).

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