KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 14, 2009

It may be August, but in the health overhaul debate, the heat is definitely on.

Doctors Providing End Of Life Counseling See Benefit In Current Controversy
The paragraphs, buried deep in the 1,000-page House health reform bill, appear innocuous, but they have ignited a firestorm among critics predicting government-sponsored euthanasia. The controversy, over proposed Medicare funding of end-of-life counseling, has come to epitomize some of people's deepest fears about the government's role in health care (Kaiser Health News).

What The House Health Bill Says About End Of Life Care
The furious controversy over Medicare funding of end-of-life care stems from Section 1233 in the health bill passed by three House committees (Kaiser Health News).

Grassley Responds To Backlash Over Euthanasia Rumor
Responding to the media storm surrounding his statements Wednesday that government-run health care will lead to mandatory euthanasia for the nation's elderly, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released a press release standing by the debunked theory (Iowa Independent).

Senators Eliminate End-Of-Life Provision
A plan to provide hospice counseling and other end-of-life advice to patients and their families is being dropped by US Senate health care negotiators after critics charged that it would lead to the formation of federal "death panels,'' a key GOP senator said yesterday (Boston Globe).

Are Dems Losing August
After an intimate White House lunch last week, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said he was confident President Barack Obama was working toward a truly bipartisan health care reform bill (Politico).

Deficit Plays Into Health Reform
With polls showing rising concern over the government's grim financial situation, key Republicans and a growing number of Democrats say it will be hard to push an ambitious health reform bill through Congress unless it reduces projected federal spending on medical care and begins to bring the national debt under control (The Washington Post).

Obama To Take On Health-Care Critics
President Obama is embarking on a final public relations push on health care Friday before heading off on vacation, wading into the same kind of often hostile town hall meetings that members of Congress have endured for much of August (The Washington Post).

At Indiana Forum, Skepticism Of Overhaul Reigns
At a town-hall meeting here, Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat in a conservative district, was told by constituents they don't trust the government to be their doctor (The Wall Street Journal).

Senators Investigate Hospital Purchasing
Lawmakers eager to broaden health care coverage while holding down costs are examining the institutional market for medical supplies, a largely unseen $60 billion-a-year realm where things like bedpans and heart implants change hands (The New York Times).

False 'Death Panel' Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots
The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama's health care proposals would create government-sponsored "death panels" to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks (The New York Times).

Obama Proposal To Create Medicare Panel Meets With Resistance
As chairman of one of the more obscure federal agencies, Glenn M. Hackbarth is little known outside the world of health care and his hometown, Bend, Ore. If President Obama has his way, Mr. Hackbarth could become one of the most important people in government, with the power to say how Medicare spends more than $450 billion a year (The New York Times).

Grand Junction A Microcosm Of Efficient Healthcare
The small Colorado city runs a system that experts hope the nation can learn from. The innovative approach started with a nonprofit HMO that offers some free services and promotes preventive care (Los Angeles Times).

White House Deal With Drug Firms Draws Flack
An $80-billion deal with the drug industry that the White House thought would add momentum to its campaign for national healthcare reform has instead provoked a political tempest, frustrating and bewildering some of the president's most important allies (Los Angeles Times).

Bill Clinton: GOP Promotes Fear Over Health Care
Republicans have turned to terrifying people in the debate over overhauling the health care system because the GOP has no political clout to fight it, former President Bill Clinton told a gathering of progressive bloggers on Thursday (The Associated Press).

Organized Armies Converge On Health Town Halls
Two organized armies on the left and right are in a battle over healthcare reform that is turning on which side is seen as authentic – grass roots, not AstroTurf (The Christian Science Monitor).

Supporters Of Health-Care Change Prepare Counterattack
The opposition to the health-care overhaul being voiced at town-hall meetings this month caught supporters by surprise (The Wall Street Journal).

New Web Site Lets Patients Rate Their Doctors
If you want to go to dinner or see a movie, it's easy to find reviews and make a reasonably informed choice. If you're choosing a doctor, it can be hard to tell which practitioners are good and which aren't so good. (NPR). 

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