KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 2, 2009

Today's headlines offer a general point of consensus: The Obama team is about to regroup and reshape its strategy on health reform.

Baucus-Grassley Bipartisan Partnership Frays Under Health Reform Pressures
For nearly a decade, the cross-aisle team of Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Charles Grassley has shaped dozens of tax cuts, trade measures and health bills on the Senate Finance Committee. That led many to predict that the partnership would be strong enough to broker bipartisan health care legislation this year (Kaiser Health News).

Sen. Charles Grassley Discusses Alliance With Sen. Max Baucus
In an interview with KHN's Eric Pianin, Republican Grassley says his long-standing alliance with Democratic Finance Committee Chairman Baucus remains strong despite political pressure but won't influence his decision on whether to support bipartisan health care legislation (Kaiser Health News).

Obama Plans More Direct Push On Health Overhaul
President Obama is planning for "a new season" of more hands-on advocacy for his troubled domestic priority, an overhaul of the health care system, according to his advisers. Among the likely steps would be a nationally televised speech that close allies have urged, and a 10-year price tag for the overhaul below the $1 trillion mark (The New York Times).

Under Fire, President Obama Shifts Strategy
Aides to President Barack Obama are putting the final touches on a new strategy to help Democrats recover from a brutal August recess by specifying what Obama wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots, West Wing officials tell Politico (Politico).

Obama May Get More Specific About Health Overhaul
President Barack Obama has talked a lot about health care lately, but some allies say he has been too vague. Now he's thinking of throwing more details and personal weight into the debate, which polls indicate Republicans have been winning in recent weeks (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

After A Bruising August, Time For Obama Team To Regroup
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who spent part of his August break fishing out west, offered a wry response this week when asked what the administration's plan is for health care. "Catch more fish," he e-mailed back (The Washington Post).

Could Tort Reform Pave Way For Health Care Deal?
In the Republicans' most recent weekly radio address, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi offered several of what he called "common sense reforms" aimed at curbing health care costs: more competitive insurance plans, better information for health care shoppers, and that old GOP chestnut - cutting down on frivolous lawsuits (NPR).

Democrats Try Tougher Tone On Health Plan
A top White House adviser said Tuesday he doubts two Senate Republicans at the center of health-care talks are negotiating seriously, as Democrats adopted a new, more confrontational tone accusing key Republicans of blocking change (The Wall Street Journal).

Conservative Democrats Expect A Health Deal
Even after the tough town-hall-style meetings, unrelenting Republican assaults and a steady stream of questions from anxious voters, interviews with more than a dozen Blue Dogs and their top aides indicate that many of the lawmakers still believe approval of some form of health care plan is achievable and far preferable to not acting at all (The New York Times).

Health Overhaul May Ride On Tactic
With bipartisan efforts to pass a health care bill sputtering, Democrats are increasingly looking at Plan B: a politically risky, last-ditch "nuclear option" designed to ram their proposals through over the objections of the other party (The Boston Globe).

GOP Readies Wave Of Objections To Stall Healthcare Bill In Senate
Sen. Judd Gregg has hundreds of procedural objections ready for a healthcare plan Democrats want to speed through the Senate (The Hill).

How Congress Might Change The Way You Buy Health Insurance
Healthcare reform efforts in the House and Senate are proposing to alter profoundly the way in which many people in the US would shop for and purchase their health insurance policies (The Christian Science Monitor).

Health Care Lobbyists Boost Key Players In Debate
As the debate intensifies in Congress, health care sector contributions to lawmakers on the committees overseeing the massive change to the nation's health care system are on the upswing - rising 8% between the first and second quarter of the year, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (USA Today).

States Most Likely To Win Under Healthcare Overhaul Are Home To Its Biggest Foes
Wyoming, with an economy marked by farming, ranching and small businesses, has a disproportionate number of people without medical insurance. And by that measure and others, its people are among the likely winners if Congress approves a healthcare overhaul. But if Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi was expecting a pat on the back from his constituents for working with some of his fellow senators to seek bipartisan agreement on the issue, he was disappointed (Los Angeles Times).

A Clinic Fills A Need But Faces Failure
Like many low-income neighborhoods, the north side of Milwaukee has seen a gradual depletion of its primary care doctors over the last two decades. One by one, they have retired or surrendered to financial reality, rarely to be replaced (The New York Times).

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