KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: News Coverage On Dems’ Health Reform Campaign; Medicare Fees; Medical Marijuana

KHN Column: Reform Whiplash
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Will health care reform reduce spending on health care too little? Or too much? Over the last several days, one respected authority made a version of the former argument while another made a version of the latter--offering a reminder of why reform is so complicated and why the new law, for all its imperfections, is still an important step forward" (Kaiser Health News). 

White House And Allies Set To Build Up Health Law
President Obama and his allies, concerned about deep skepticism over his landmark health care overhaul, are orchestrating an elaborate campaign to sell the public on the law, including a new tax-exempt group that will spend millions of dollars on advertising to beat back attacks on the measure and Democrats who voted for it (The New York Times).

Dems Launch $125M Health Campaign
Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and Victoria Kennedy, the late senator's wife, are expected to be named co-chairs this week of a $125 million campaign White House allies are rolling out to defend health reform amid growing signs the party is failing to get political traction on the issue (Politico).

Election Spooks Lawmakers, Curbs Congress Spending
The 2010 elections have changed the direction of government only half way through the primary season, with voter anger and economic jitters causing lawmakers to balk at their most basic duties as well as key elements of President Barack Obama's agenda. After betting their political future on a government-mandated expansion of health care to include millions more Americans, Democrats appear to have little appetite for more legislative showdowns given voter rebellion against government spending amid trillion dollar-plus annual deficits (The Associated Press).

Pols Turn On Labor Unions
Spurred by state budget crunches and an angry public mood, Republican and some Democratic leaders are focusing with increasing intensity on public workers and the unions that represent them, casting them as overpaid obstacles to good government and demanding cuts in their often-generous benefits (Politico).

HHS Warns Medicare Insurers On Rates
A fresh fight between insurance companies and the Obama administration is taking shape, this time over how much seniors should pay for their privately run Medicare plans next year (The Wall Street Journal).

Agencies Warn Of Coming Doctor Shortage
Stories of emergency rooms pushed to capacity and wait times at physicians' offices have become legendary. Now the passage of healthcare reform - potentially funneling 30 million new people into an already-packed system - has some groups warning that the nation will soon see a shortage of doctors (Los Angeles Times).

Doctors Tack On Fees For Patients
A growing number of doctors across the country are boosting revenue by asking patients to pay new fees for services they say insurance doesn't cover, insurance and physicians' groups say (USA Today). 

Overtreated: More Medical Care Isn't Always Better
Too much medical treatment is making many Americans sicker. This is the first story in an Associated Press six-part series that examines the phenomenon of overtreatment (The Associated Press). 

The Doctor's In-Box 
The doctor-patient relationship is moving online. With 68% of American adults now using the Internet to search for healthcare information, it's no surprise that many also want digital access to their doctor. Whether they have that option will depend heavily on doctors' ability to get paid for the service (Los Angeles Times).

First Victim Of Health Care Overhaul
A Virginia-based insurance company says "considerable uncertainties" created by the Democrats' health care overhaul will force it to close its doors by the end of the year (Politico). 

'The New Marijuana': Where Do We Blow From Here
In less than a generation, marijuana has gone from a forbidden drug in America to a readily available commodity. It started when California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, launching a trend that's now spread across more than a dozen states (NPR). 

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