KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 14, 2011

Today's headlines include reports that House GOP leaders are poised to return to work on repealing the health law. A vote has been scheduled for next week.

Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Try New Approaches To Curb Emergency Department Crowding
Writing for Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen reports: "Ochsner is one of a growing number of emergency departments trying new approaches to ease crowding. The efforts have added urgency as some experts predict the problem could worsen in coming years. They worry that as millions of people suddenly gain health coverage in 2014 under the new federal health law, they may have trouble finding primary care doctors and will turn to hospital emergency departments instead" (Kenen, 1/14).

Kaiser Health News Column: A New Definition For Health Reform
In this Kaiser Health News column, James Capretta and Tom Miller write: "The principal divide in American health care policy is over what to do about rapidly rising costs. On one side are those who believe the solution is to enhance the government's power to direct the system's resources and enforce budgetary controls. This point of view animated the drafting of the recently passed health care law. On the other side are those who believe the answer is a functioning marketplace for insurance and care, not coercion and heavy-handed regulation. The key to such a competitive market is cost-conscious consumers, something sorely lacking today" (1/14).

The New York Times: House Republicans Edge Back To Business As Usual
Republicans are carefully trying to return to normal business in the House, announcing on Thursday that lawmakers will next week consider the effort to repeal the health care law that was pulled from the agenda after the Saturday shooting rampage in Arizona (Hulse, 1/13).

The Washington Post: House GOP To Resume Health-Care Repeal Effort, But With More Civil Tone
House Republican leaders said Thursday that they will begin their effort to repeal the new health-care law next week, a return to normal legislative business after the shootings in Arizona suspended activity on Capitol Hill (Murray and Kane, 1/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Test Ahead On Rhetoric In House
House Republicans plan to debate and vote next week on repealing last year's health-care overhaul in an early test of whether partisan rhetoric softens in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings. … They expect to pass their repeal measure the next day and, later, pass another measure that instructs House committees to delve into new health legislation to replace the law passed last March. The repeal vote will be largely symbolic because the measure lacks the support to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate and would be vetoed in any case by President Barack Obama. But it kicks off a Republican drive to neuter the law by choking off its funding through the appropriations process and passing legislation to knock down the law's least-popular elements (Adamy, 1/14).

Politico: House GOP Tries To Regain Momentum
Their agenda remains ambitious, aggressive and utterly unchanged, but as House Republicans head back to work after a national pause for mourning, they're trying to recapture their momentum while setting the right political tone. …  Republicans are not changing a lick of substance. They're just talking about it differently. Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), through his spokesman on Thursday, called for the House to "resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week" - a clear signal of the tenor they're seeking for the debate (Sherman, 1/13).

Politico: Poll Health Care Reform Is Barack Obama's Best And Worst
It's the best thing he's done and it's the worst thing he's done. Americans are so evenly divided over health care that nearly identical percentages say reform is President Barack Obama's greatest accomplishment and his worst one since taking office, according to a new poll (Epstein, 1/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Feel Heat In California
California is once again a hot spot in the battle over the rising cost of health insurance. Just 72 hours into his new job, the state's insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, started challenging insurance companies that are raising prices on individual policies. On Jan. 6, he called on Blue Shield of California to delay premium increases of up to 59%. This week, he asked Aetna Inc. and units of WellPoint Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. to postpone their price jumps as he reviews them (Johnson, 1/14).

The Wall Street Journal: New Hit To Strapped States
With the market for municipal bonds tumbling, cities, hospitals, schools and other public borrowers are scrambling to refinance tens of billions of dollars of debt this year, another sign that the once-safe market is under duress (Corkery and Dugan, 1/14).

Chicago Tribune: Man With Brain Injury Falls Through Cracks Of State Aid
After more than five years at a residential facility for brain-injury victims in Carbondale, Monahan returned to his mother's Chicago Ridge home last week, facing an uncertain future. Though he has the intellectual capacity of a 13-year-old, the state does not classify him as either developmentally disabled or mentally ill, so he has dropped through a crack in Illinois' social services network, losing all the state aid that covered his care for the past decade (Hipple, 1/13).

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