KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: December 3, 2010

Many of today's headlines focus on the president's deficit commission's fiscal plan and how has drawn significant attention as a blueprint for future action.

KHN: Health Insurance Brokers Fight For Their Future
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold, working in collaboration with NPR, reports: "Some experts would say Debbie Stocks ought to start looking for a new career, that the new health overhaul law makes insurance brokers like her obsolete. But Stocks, 45, isn't about to give up her calling. As the onetime high school French teacher says, 'my soul loves health insurance'" (Gold, 12/3).

The New York Times Econmix: How Medicare Pays Physicians
While no one likes the cost-based Medicare fee schedule, its critics should be challenged to suggest a workable alternative based on "value to patients." For starters, the critics should explain concretely how they would define and measure value in this context, in monetary terms, keeping in mind the administrative cost of any such system (Reinhardt, 12/3).

The New York Times: Fiscal Plan Is Expected To Fall Short Of Votes
In drawing greater-than-expected support, the proposed overhaul of taxes and spending has attracted interest among some in the White House and Congress as a blueprint for future action as the nation grapples with the fiscal crisis posed by high health care costs and an aging population (Calmes, 12/2).

The Washington Post: Presenting Plan To Cut Deficit, Commission Members Offer Surprising Compromises
While only seven of the 18 members endorsed the package outright, others staked out positions that could change the terms of the well-worn Washington debate over taxes and spending (Montgomery and Dennis, 12/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Military Retirees Resist Push To Cut Health Costs
At issue are possible changes to the military health-care system, known as Tricare. As part of a raft of debt-reduction measures, President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission recommended a review of Tricare, part of an effort to reduce top-to-bottom federal spending. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also wants to overhaul the military health system (Hodge, 12/3).

Politico: Joe Barton: I'll Work To Repeal ObamaCare
Rep. Joe Barton wants House Republicans to work overtime - including weekends - next year to roll back the Obama administration's health care and environmental policies (Bravender, 12/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Two Key WellPoint Executives To Leave
WellPoint Inc. said Thursday that two executives who were involved in controversies that buffeted the insurer during the health-overhaul debate are leaving the company. Cynthia Miller, the company's top actuary, and Bradley Fluegel, its chief of strategy, will depart from the company, WellPoint said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those senior executives follow Dijuana Lewis, an executive vice president in charge of networking and disease management, who was terminated "without cause" in October, according to a separate filing that month (Johnson, 12/2).

NPR: Care At Home: A New Civil Right
Many people believe that nursing home residents are too sick to live at home. Yet there are many people who have the same disabilities found in nursing homes, who are able to live in their own homes with assistance from family or aides (Shapiro, 12/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo In Talks With Health-Care Union
Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo and the state's health-care union are in quiet talks over Medicaid spending in an effort to avoid a bitter showdown next year over the state budget (Gershman, 12/3).

Los Angeles Times: Californians' Costs For Employer-Based Health Insurance Soar
Working Californians have seen the cost of their employer-based health insurance shoot up about 40% over the last six years, but they may be surprised to find that workers in many other states fared even worse (Helfand, 12/3).

The New York Times: Arizona Cuts Financing For Transplant Patients
Even physicians with decades of experience telling patients that their lives are nearing an end are having difficulty discussing a potentially fatal condition that has arisen in Arizona: Death by budget cut (Lacey, 12/2).

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