KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

News Media Examine Health Reform Roles Of Snowe, Voinovich, Gregg

Newspapers focus on a few of the major players in health care reform: Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine; George Voinovich, R-Ohio; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Judd Gregg, R-N.H.

"Olympia J. Snowe may be, for the moment, the most powerful woman in Washington" as the Senate Finance Committee moves toward a final vote on health care legislation, The Los Angeles Times reports. "Many in her party are appalled that the Maine senator would even think of helping Obama. Her support might make it easier for moderate and conservative Democrats to go along," and Snowe could provide the crucial 60th vote that "Democrats may need to overcome a GOP filibuster, which would kill the president's top domestic priority. But her position - standing apart from most fellow Republicans, sitting squarely in the sights of interest groups attacking from both sides - is a familiar, if not particularly pleasant, one for Snowe," who has broken with Republicans on a number of other issues. Snowe's home-state is neither red nor blue, but rather "rough-hewn and fiercely independent," and "the message from voters on healthcare" has been "mixed" (Barabak, 10/9).

CongressDaily: After a meeting with President Obama, Snowe "said they discussed bringing up her preferred trigger version of the public option down the road, which would only be instituted in regions where private insurers do not offer affordable coverage. The president stressed to her that he has to first grapple with his own party, which has not embraced the trigger idea" (Edney, 10/8).

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on the health care views of Ohio's two Senators. "Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, is already looking ahead. As of early afternoon (Thursday), he had 28 senators' signatures on a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include a public option in the final bill." But Republican George Voinovich "sees budgetary gimmicks at play because, he notes, the proposals for health-care reform would still add to federal spending. The Finance Committee bill would merely shift some of the burden off the federal books" (Koff, 10/8).

Meanwhile, on "the heels of the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that the U.S. Senate Finance Committee health care bill would cost $829 billion over 10 years, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., criticized the measure for leaving behind millions of uninsured, despite its high cost," the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. "'Considering that 25 million individuals will remain uninsured under this proposal,' Gregg said in a statement, 'it does not solve our health care issues ... while radically growing the size of the federal government'" (Markman, 10/9).

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