KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Morning Edition: September 4, 2009

Today's headlines illustrate the following point: Everyone should enjoy the long weekend ahead, because next week Congress comes back to Washington and President Obama delivers his big health care speech -- in other words, the health policy world will be very busy.

Tightening The Belt For Health Reform
As Democrats consider their options for a less ambitious overhaul plan, President Barack Obama is planning his address to Congress, in which he is expected to propose specific refinements to the current bills (Kaiser Health News).

Health Bills Might Not Protect Some Needy Americans, Experts Say
As lawmakers weigh trimming legislation, some consumers might end up burdened by medical and insurance costs (Kaiser Health News).

Opposition To Obama's Health Care Overhaul Hardens
President Obama's plan to make a rare address to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday has been characterized as an all-in effort to shore up support for his attempt to overhaul the nation's health care system. After a month of rancorous town hall meetings, partisan advertisements, fearmongering and viral e-mails, it's clear that the president needs the bully pulpit to revive his effort (NPR).

Obama Will Lay Out Specifics In Health-Care Speech, Aides Say
With President Obama poised to give a health-care address Wednesday before a joint session of Congress, administration officials promised that he will deliver a detailed prescription for reform despite the risks of spelling out exactly where he stands (The Washington Post).

Obama To Stress Common Ground In Health Speech
As President Obama prepares to deliver a make-or-break address on health care to a joint session of Congress next week, he is expected to turn the focus away from controversial issues such as the "public option'' plan and toward key areas of bipartisan agreement, including enabling anyone to buy insurance regardless of preexisting conditions, according to White House and congressional officials (The Boston Globe).

Obama Pressed On Details Of Plan
A key Republican wants President Barack Obama to consider a more incremental approach on health care when he addresses Congress next week, while Vice President Joe Biden said the administration is still pressing for "something substantial" (The Wall Street Journal).

Health Care Idea Has Public Plan Only As Backup
As President Obama faces conflicting pressures from the left and the right over his proposal for a new public health insurance program, White House officials are investigating a possible compromise under which the government would offer its own health plan only if private insurers failed to provide affordable coverage (The New York Times).

Democrats Consider Setting 'Trigger' For Government Healthcare
Looking to break the logjam on healthcare legislation, the White House and Democrats in the Senate are increasingly placing their hopes on the idea of a "trigger" that, if set off, would allow the government to offer health insurance to many Americans (Los Angeles Times).

Lawmakers Go Hard Line On Health Care
Angry voters have captured all the attention at town hall meetings across the country this summer, but it's the passionate response from lawmakers that will affect the health care debate when Congress returns (USA Today).

Gang Of Six Gives It One More Try
Most top Democrats, including senior White House advisers, may no longer expect a health care deal out of the bipartisan "Group of Six," but the senators still plan to talk Friday for the first time as a group in more than two weeks (Politico).

Dems Will Follow Obama On Healthcare
President Barack Obama will likely shape the healthcare debate going forward, a top House Democrat said Thursday (The Hill).

A GOP Senator Looking To Meet Halfway
Republican Sen. Bob Corker stood before a packed high school auditorium this week for his 24th and final town hall meeting of the summer, sketching out his vision for the bipartisan health-care plan he says he is convinced Congress can pass (The Washington Post).

Clyburn: 'Half A Loaf' On Health Care Better Than Nothing
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is pushing a compromise on the most contentious part of President Barack Obama's bid to provide medical benefits to uninsured Americans (McClatchy).

Should Older People Pay More For Healthcare?
When buying an individual health-insurance policy, should older people pay more than their younger counterparts? If so, how big should that price disparity be? (The Christian Science Monitor).

A Medical Mystery: Why Health Care Is So Expensive?
For all the attempts to lower the cost of health care in the United States, it remains expensive. Overall medical spending accounts for more than 17 percent of America's entire economy (NPR).

The Unwitting Birthplace Of The 'Death Panel' Myth
city often shows up on "best places to live" lists, but residents say it is also a good place to die -- which is how it landed in the center of a controversy that almost derailed health-care reform this summer (The Washington Post).

Barack Obama's Health-Care Plan Gets Tepid Response In Illinois
Few Illinois voters are seeing much positive about President Barack Obama's proposed health-care overhaul, with three out of four saying their medical coverage would stay the same or bring "change for the worse" to medical benefits for them or their families, according to a Tribune/WGN poll (The Chicago Tribune).

California Leaders Back Health Program For The Poor
Dismayed by the number of poor children about to be dropped from a publicly subsidized health insurance program, California lawmakers voted Thursday to levy a tax on insurance companies to help maintain the program, which had been slashed into near nonexistence as part of the state's budget (The New York Times).

Medical Grants A Boon For Mass.
Massachusetts biomedical researchers are seeing a windfall from federal stimulus money, with the state receiving more in grants from the National Institutes of Health than all others but California (The Boston Globe). 

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