KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Continue To Feel The Pinch Of Health Reform Politics While SEIU Has A New President

Politico: New Mexico Democrat Rep. Harry Teague dropped his employer-based health coverage for his employees at Cavaloz Energy as the debate over health care reform surged in Congress. Teague boasted that his company provided health coverage in 2008 when he was running, but "once he won his seat, Teague, a Democrat, voted twice against his party's health care reform bill because 'it tells businesses to do the right thing and provide insurance for employees but doesn't guarantee or require affordable options.'" Teague is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, but remains majority owner. A spokeswoman said there is no contradiction between the cuts and Teague's campaign talk. "On Dec. 28, seven days after Cavaloz Energy informed its employees that it was dropping its health insurance plans, Teague publicly declared that he was divesting himself of his holdings in Teaco Energy and the other affiliated firms," but he has not divested yet (Bresnahan and Sherman, 5/10).

The Associated Press/The Washington Times: Republican Sen. Bob Bennett lost the GOP nomination for his seat Saturday over, among other things, offering a bipartisan bill mandating health insurance coverage. "Mr. Bennett's defeat is the latest in a series of surprising political developments in a year in which the 'tea party' movement has amassed growing power."

"Other GOP candidates likely were eyeing Saturday's results to see if it's an indicator of things to come" (Vergakis, 5/10). 

CQ Politics/RollCall: The Service Employees International Union, a labor union and big player in the health reform debate, elected its first female president on Saturday. Until elected, she was head of the health care division for the SEIU. "SEIU board members chose Mary Kay Henry as the successor to Andrew Stern. Stern abruptly announced his departure last month after running the union for nearly 15 years. … A registered lobbyist for the SEIU until 2007, Henry has specialized in negotiating labor deals with hospital systems, including Beverly Enterprises, Catholic Healthcare West, Tenet and HCA" (Murray, 5/8).

The Hill: "Henry played a big part in what was probably the union's greatest victory: passage of the healthcare reform bill this past March. Henry sits on the board of directors of Families USA, a national advocacy group for healthcare consumers that was central to the debate in Washington." SEIU is dealing with some internal struggles, however, as it is "still fighting with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which broke off from an SEIU-affiliated union in California. Sal Rosselli, NUHW president, said he sees little change between Stern and Henry. 'Mary Kay has been accountable to Andy Stern for 30 years. That has been her whole constituency. I can't imagine there will be any major change, no,' Rosselli said" (Bogardus, 5/8).

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