KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: February 22, 2010

Today's health policy headlines examine the dynamics of this week's health summit, details of a presidential plan to curb health insurance premium rate hikes and what the nation's governors are thinking about health reform. 

Doctor Shortage Fuels Nurses' Push For Expanded Role
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas writes about developments regarding the physicians shortage is leading to a push for an expanded role for other health professionals. "There are no doctors in rural Tyrrell County, N.C. There is only Irene Cavall, a licensed nurse practitioner and the sole source of primary care for 4,000 residents spread out over 600 square miles (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column - Malpractice Reform: A Test Case For Bipartisanship At The Health Summit
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Ever since President Barack Obama announced he'd be having a bipartisan meeting to talk about health care reform, Republicans have been denouncing it as a charade. He's not really interested in their ideas, they say. And he doesn't really want their support. But is the problem that Obama won't listen to the Republicans--or that the Republicans won't listen to Obama? One way to answer that question is to watch what happens at Thursday's health 'summit' meeting if discussion turns to medical malpractice reform (Kaiser Health News).

Summit Spin: Real Effort Or Photo Op?
President Barack Obama has billed Thursday's health care summit as a chance for lawmakers to "seek common ground" to solve a decades-old problem (Politico).

Healthcare Summit: Chance For Compromise Or 'Trap' For The GOP?
The coming week could provide important signals about whether bipartisanship has a chance these days in Washington – or whether partisan gridlock will become only more entrenched as the 2010 midterms approach (The Christian Science Monitor).

Obama To Urge Oversight Of Insurers' Rate Increases
President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation's health care system, White House officials said Sunday (The New York Times).

Obama Plan Would Curb Health Insurers On Rate Hikes
President Obama's new healthcare overhaul plan would give the federal government greater authority to stop rate increases imposed by health insurers, an administration official said late Sunday (Los Angeles Times).

Obama Proposal Targets Insurance-Rate Increases
President Obama will call for new government power to regulate insurance-rate increases as part of comprehensive changes to the health-care system that the White House will unveil on its Web site Monday, senior officials said (The Washington Post).

Obama To Seek Curbs On Insurance Hikes
Seeking to revive his stalled health-care legislation, President Barack Obama is proposing a new idea to address health costs, giving the federal government authority to block insurers from making premium rate increases (The Wall Street Journal).

Barack Obama To Call For Control Over Insurance Rate Hikes
President Barack Obama wants to give the federal government sweeping new authority to curb exorbitant rate hikes by the nation's health insurance companies, an White House official said Sunday night – a proposal designed to win over skeptical voters as Obama announces his own health insurance legislation for the first time Monday (Politico).

News Analysis: Obama Helped Bring On The Healthcare Backlash
As President Obama seeks to revive his moribund healthcare initiative -- and arrest the precipitous drop in his political fortunes -- he is struggling with the consequences of one of his most important early decisions: letting Congress take the lead in designing his signature policy proposal (Los Angeles Times).

'Cadillac Tax' On Health Plans Would Hit Union And Nonunion Jobs Equally
It happens often in Washington: A perception emerges and soon hardens into fact. Take the proposed tax on high-cost insurance plans in the Senate's health-care legislation. Because organized labor took the lead in opposing the tax, the assumption took hold that it would hit unions the hardest (The Washington Post).

Peter Orszag Wants Health Care Bill - And A Diet Coke
Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, tells POLITICO that it is "absolutely" still possible to pass a comprehensive health reform bill, insisting that "to really reform the health care system" would be "best for the economy and the American public" (Politico).

Governors Focus On Health Care Reform
Gov. Joe Manchin (D- WVa.) discusses the environmental and health care reform efforts in his state, while Gov. Gary Herbert (R-Utah), says he thinks states should take the lead in health care issues. "States have the ability to be nimble," Herbert says. "Having 50 different approaches will probably give us a chance to find success." The two lawmakers are in Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association meeting (NPR).

States Look Beyond Washington On Health
Some governors, frustrated by halted federal efforts to overhaul the U.S. health-care system, are introducing their own changes at the state level (The Wall Street Journal).

VA Hospital Upgrades Care For Female Vets
More than 230,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but many report that when they return from war, they face another battle at home: getting the care and respect they need at VA hospitals (NPR).

Dental Coverage Cuts Leave California's Poor In Pain
In California, it's been seven months since some 3 million poor and disabled adults lost their dental coverage to budget cuts (NPR).

Kaiser Health News followed the weekend's news with summaries of the emerging strategies for the upcoming health summit, news about lawmakers' reactions to health insurance premium increases and the talk from the Sunday news programs.

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