KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 21, 2009

Today's headlines indicate it tough out there for Democrats and their efforts to overhaul the health reform system, but neither President Obama or key Senate negotiators seem willing to give up their hopes.

Democrats Strategy To Avoid Filibuster Carries Serious Risks
With prospects for a bipartisan deal dimming, Democrats are considering the use of Byzantine budget rules this fall to ram through their own version of health care overhaul legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster (Kaiser Health News).

Democrats' Go-It-Alone Strategy
So if Democrat leaders and the White House decide to use special "reconciliation" budget rules to try to pass health care overhaul legislation this fall without Republican support, how would it work? (Kaiser Health News).

46 Million Uninsured: A Look Behind the Number
President Obama and fellow Democrats are throwing around a big number in the health care debate - the number of people living in this country without health insurance. This 46 million number is a handy one - large and round - but who are the people it represents, and what does it mean for the rest of us that they don't have insurance (NPR).

Faith In Obama Drops As Reform Fears Rise
Public confidence in President Obama's leadership has declined sharply over the summer, amid intensifying opposition to health-care reform that threatens to undercut his attempt to enact major changes to the system, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll (The Washington Post).

Key Senators Discuss Trimming The Bill
Senate health-care negotiators agreed late Thursday to ignore the increasingly strident rhetoric from Republican and Democratic leaders and to keep working toward a bill that can win broad support from the rank-and-file in both parties, according to sources familiar with the talks (The Washington Post).

Obama Insists Health Plan Bill Will Pass
President Obama said Thursday that he "would love to have more Republicans engaged" in the health care negotiations under way in Congress, but expressed doubt that a bipartisan compromise could be reached because he suspected the party's leadership was intent on defeating his signature domestic priority (The New York Times).

'One Way Or Another,' Obama Guarantees Reform
President Barack Obama on Thursday guaranteed healthcare reform would be approved and went further than he has in the past in suggesting he'd support moving the bill through the Senate without GOP support (The Hill).

Obama Tries To 'Cut Through The Noise' On Healthcare
Obama's radio experience, as well as a later Internet session with supporters from the presidential campaign, demonstrated just how big the communications challenge can be on an issue as complex and controversial as healthcare. And even as the president focused on dealing with what he said were misunderstandings, half-truths and outright falsehoods about his strategy for overhauling healthcare, he occasionally ventured into the vast gray area between fact and fiction (Los Angeles Times).

Obama Faults GOP In Health Debate
President Barack Obama, seeking to rally his base, accused Republican leaders Thursday of trying to block a health-care overhaul from the start and again threw his weight behind a government-run insurance plan (The Wall Street Journal).

Analysis: Health Care Endgame Near But Uncertain
With hopes growing ever dimmer for a bipartisan accord, White House and Democratic leaders are considering a wide range of strategies for getting a health care bill passed when Congress returns from its summer recess (The Associated Press).

White House Health Plan Back To Square One
At the start of the year, Democrats were convinced they'd finally cracked the code. They'd spent years testing and refining their message on health care reform. They had a popular president to push the effort, and Democratic majorities in Congress to support it. The public seemed receptive to big changes (Politico).

A Floundering Campaign On Health Care
President Obama's campaign for the White House was widely hailed for its ability to stick to a script. But as prospects for the passage of health care reform become murkier, and a backlash among liberal Democrats becomes louder, even some of Obama's strongest supporters are suggesting that his discipline has slipped (The Boston Globe).

Public Health Plan Idea Followed Unlikely Path
The idea of a government medical plan to compete with private insurance might have been just a footnote in an academic paper. Instead it has followed an unlikely path to center stage in the national health care debate. Many Democrats insist any legislation must include a public option, while nearly all Republicans are against it. President Barack Obama seems uncomfortably stuck in the middle (The Associated Press).

Health Insurance Debate Turns To Issue Of Co-Ops
After 30 years of punishing caseloads and never-ending stacks of paperwork, Harry Shriver was getting ready to hang up his doctor's coat and retire when he tried something new (USA Today).

Where Elderly Back Obama, Health Bill Anxiety
It seemed to matter little that Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have vowed to protect Medicare benefit levels and have disavowed any interest in "pulling the plug on grandma," as the president put it last week. Residents of this Florida retirement village have heard about plans to wring hundreds of billions of dollars out of the projected growth in Medicare spending. Even though the largest of the proposed cuts would reduce reimbursements to hospitals, many fear that beneficiaries would ultimately lose out (The New York Times).

A Basis Is Seen For Some Health Plan Fears Among The Elderly
White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational (The New York Times).

AARP Takes Heat Over Health Stand
AARP thinks U.S. health care needs a sweeping overhaul. Problem is, a lot of its members don't agree (The Wall Street Journal).

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