KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: February 12, 2010

Today's headlines highlight the continuing flap over Anthem Blue Cross' planned rate hike as well as GOP and Democratic responses to President Obama's proposed health summit.

Indian Health Service Director Roubideaux: 'We Have A Lot To Teach The Country'
KHN staff writer Jessica Marcy talks to IHS director Yvette Roubideaux, who knows first-hand the difficulties faced by patients of the Indian Health Service. A member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe who grew up in South Dakota, she often waited five to six hours to see a doctor-and the physician was rarely a Native American. But she also has seen the pinnacle of American medicine. Determined to improve health care for American Indian communities, she opted to become a doctor and attended Harvard Medical School (Kaiser Health News).

Health Summit Puts Spotlight On GOP
All week, Republicans have been grousing about the president's health care summit like it's a trip to the dentist. But their complaints ignore an obvious opportunity. The nationally televised event gives the GOP a venue to accomplish something it hasn't been able to do since President Barack Obama took the oath of office: Sell voters on Republican solutions to big problems (Politico).

Democrats Skeptical Health Care Summit Is Answer
First he called congressional Democrats' yearlong march toward health care overhaul an ugly process. Now President Barack Obama wants to talk directly with Republicans, the very people his Capitol Hill allies call obstinate and uncooperative (The Associated Press).

Lawmakers Gear Up For Healthcare Summit Meeting
The frozen streets of the US capital this week could be a metaphor for Congress's gridlocked and, for the moment, derailed healthcare reform. But President Obama's call for a bipartisan healthcare meeting on Feb. 25 is keeping the issue in play – and in public thought (The Christian Science Monitor).

Anthem's Parent Company Defends Health Insurance Rate Hike
The parent of beleaguered Anthem Blue Cross offered a spirited defense Thursday of large premium increases for customers with individual health insurance policies in California, but critics -- including the Obama administration -- voiced skepticism (Los Angeles Times).

Administration Rejects Health Insurer's Defense Of Huge Rate Increases
Anthem Blue Cross, the California health insurance company that was criticized by the Obama administration for raising its premiums, said Thursday that the increases of up to 39 percent were driven by rising health care costs (The New York Times).

WellPoint Takes Heat Over Rates
The Obama administration is seizing on a big health-insurance rate increase by WellPoint Inc. in California as fresh evidence of the need for action as it tries to resuscitate its health-care legislation (The Wall Street Journal).

WellPoint Insurance Hike Becomes Target For Obama
Health insurer WellPoint blames the Great Recession and rising medical costs for its planned 39 percent rate increase for some California customers. To President Barack Obama, however, it's Exhibit A in his campaign to revive the health care overhaul (The Associated Press/Washington Post).

New Jolt For Healthcare Reform? Insurer Hikes Rates 39 Percent.
Has a cost hike by a health insurer in California given new life to the Democratic healthcare-reform legislation in Washington? (The Christian Science Monitor).

Health Insurers Take Heat For Rise In Profits
As the nation struggled last year with rising healthcare costs and a recession, the five largest health insurance companies racked up combined profits of $12.2 billion -- up 56% over 2008, according to a new report by liberal healthcare activists (Los Angeles Times).

An Irritated Nancy Pelosi Speaks Out
For months, the California lawmaker has been pushing Obama hard in private while praising him in public. But now she's being more open in her criticism, in part because she feels the White House was wrong - in the wake of the Democrats' loss in Massachusetts - to push the Senate health care bill on the House when she knew there was no way it would pass (Politico).

Health Reform In Limbo, Top Drug Lobbyist Quits
Billy Tauzin, one of the highest paid lobbyists in Washington, is resigning as president of the pharmaceutical industry's trade group amid internal disputes over its pact with the White House to trade political support for favorable terms in the proposed health care overhaul (The New York Times).

Tauzin Stepping Down As Head Of PhRMA
Tauzin, 66, has been a major player on healthcare reform during the 111th Congress. He worked closely with the White House to strike a deal where the industry agreed to policy changes that would help pay for an overhaul of the nation's healthcare system. The pact limited these changes to $80 billion over 10 years (The Hill).

Whistle-Blowing Nurse Is Acquitted In Texas
A West Texas jury took but an hour Thursday to acquit a nurse who had been charged with a felony after alerting the state medical board that a doctor at her hospital was practicing unsafe medicine (The New York Times).

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