KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Unlikely Partnerships Emerge In Health Overhaul Battles

Dissimilar interest groups are proving unlikely allies in the fight to reform America's health care system, CNN Money reports.

For instance, four lobbying groups, the AARP, the Service Employees International Union, small business group the National Federation of Independent Business and big business' Business Roundtable joined together to create the coalition "Divided We Fail."

"Divided We Fail represents the NFIB's second effort in recent months to find a bipartisan solution to the health-care crisis. Last year the organization worked with Durbin, along with Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and two Republicans, to craft the Small Business Health Options bill (SHOP). Like the old association health plan idea, SHOP would drive down insurance costs by creating national risk pools for small employers. From the NFIB's perspective, the compromise is that SHOP envisages a more active role for government" (Mandelbaum, 8/10).

Also unlikely bedfellows: Big pharmaceutical business and the White House, the CBS Evening News reports. "Sources say negotiations involving the White House and the pharmaceutical industry shifted to fast-forward in mid-June. President Obama had just taken a serious hit on the escalating cost of his health care plan and needed a shot in the arm. Days later, he got it with the full backing of the pharmaceutical industry and its promise to save Americans $80 billion in health care costs. … But what did the pharmaceutical industry get in return? Initial reports said the White House agreed not to seek price controls on drugs for seniors on Medicare and would not support importing cheaper drugs from Canada. Both the White House and the pharmaceutical industry now dispute that" (Attkisson, 8/10). 

Karen Ignagni, the insurance industry's top lobbyist, told the The Associated Press that "recent broadsides against the industry by President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats are designed as a distraction as the health care debate becomes more contentious." But she urged lawmakers to abandon those attacks, telling AP that "lawmakers should use the summer break to emphasize the need to reshape the system, which she and many others on both sides of the debate agree is becoming unaffordable for government, business and many families" (Fram, 8/10).

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