KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 24, 2009

Even as signs become clear that Congress will not meet President Obama's August deadline for health reform, the debate and the politics continue.

Hospitals Divided Over Obama Plan To Scrutinize Medicare Payments
While a cornerstone of President Obama's plan to trim medical costs - an independent commission to determine how much Medicare pays doctors and hospitals - has run into strong opposition from powerful industry groups, certain hospital systems are breaking ranks and supporting it (Kaiser Health News).

For Public, Obama Didn't Fill In The Blanks
Many Americans have grown increasingly anxious about Washington's efforts to reconfigure health care and what it may mean for the middle-class. Mr. Obama is often an earnest and compelling pitchman. But people also remain frustrated by the lack of available detail about the contours and cost of the President's plan (New York Times).

Obama Visits Clinic Known For Quality Care, Controlling Costs
The Cleveland Clinic, the renowned medical center visited by President Obama on Thursday, embodies many features that experts believe are essential to both improving health care and controlling its cost (Washington Post).

Health Reform Deadline In Doubt
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid acknowledged Thursday that his chamber is unable to pass health-care reform before its August recess, a move that highlighted internal Democratic divisions on the legislation and is likely to result in significant changes to the shape of the final bill (Washington Post).

As Health Bill Is Delayed, White House Negotiates
White House officials negotiated furiously on Thursday to keep major health care legislation on track after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said his chamber would not vote on a health measure until after Congress returned from its summer recess (New York Times).

Senate Won't Hit August Deadline
The Senate's top Democrat on Thursday conceded that the chamber won't pass a health overhaul by August, giving the White House another setback as it presses its ambitious health agenda (Wall Street Journal).

Emanuel: Changes To Health System Take Time
With one-sixth of the nation's economy at stake, a debate over how to remake the health care system is not anywhere near being over, despite concerted efforts to hammer out legislation before Congress takes its summer break (NPR's Morning Edition).

Obama's Healthcare Vote Delayed. The Reason: Democrats
It's official. The Senate is giving up on moving comprehensive healthcare legislation this summer. It means that President Obama's goal of getting to a vote by the August recess is now out of reach (Christian Science Monitor).

Deadline Push Dropped After Health Momentum Fizzles
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill abandoned their August deadline for a vote on healthcare reform Thursday after President Obama's primetime press briefing the night before failed to give their massive agenda item renewed momentum (The Hill).

GOP, In Attack Mode, Tries To Avoid Obstructionist Label
Republicans, seeking to regain political ground in the health-care debate, have launched a series of attacks on Democrats' overhaul plan. But some GOP strategists worry an aggressive approach could backfire, if voters decide the party is obstructing efforts to address an issue they care about (Wall Street Journal).

Move Over, David Beckham. Bend It Like Peter Orszag!
This week, the talk of health care took on a geometric flare: "Bend the cost curve" was firing off the lips of anyone and everyone inside the Beltway (Politico).

Obama's Health Expert Gets Political
President Barack Obama's health-care plan is in jeopardy because of serious concerns that costs will spin out of control. As much as anyone, it's White House budget director Peter Orszag's job to save it (Wall Street Journal).

Pelosi Puts Onus On Industry
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she doesn't feel bound by the $235 billion in deals that the White House and the Senate Finance Committee cut with hospital and pharmaceutical companies to defray costs of a new health-care plan, stating that she thinks the industries could do more (Washington Post).

Senators Seek Coverage For Alternative Therapies
Naturopathic doctors, herbal healers, mind-body specialists, and acupuncturists often have been scorned by the US medical establishment, but growing numbers of Americans are seeking such care, and now an influential group of US senators believes the time has come to embrace an array of alternative therapies (Boston Globe).

Massachusetts Firms Pare Costs Elsewhere To Pay For Coverage
As Congress weighs requiring small businesses to provide health insurance for their employees, Massachusetts provides a look at how such a law affects companies (Wall Street Journal).


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