KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 23, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about a new poll that shows Americans don't believe Medicare has to be cut in order to balance the budget.  

Kaiser Health News: States Cutting Back On Drug Programs For HIV Patients
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali S. Kulkarni, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "Cash-strapped states across the country are scaling back efforts to provide life-saving medicines to HIV patients. The result: more than 8,300 people – a record number -- are on waiting lists in 13 states to get antiretrovirals and other drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS or its side effects, mental health conditions or opportunistic infections. And that number probably sharply understates the need, say advocates, who note that many states have simply eliminated waiting lists or reduced eligibility" (Kulkarni, 5/22).

The Associated Press: AP-AfK Poll: Medicare Doesn't Have To Be Cut
They're not buying it. Most Americans say they don't believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security, a new poll shows. The Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that arguments for overhauling the massive benefit programs to pare government debt have failed to sway the public. The debate is unlikely to be resolved before next year's elections for president and Congress (Alonso-Zaldivar and Ohlemacher, 5/23).

The New York Times: As House Race Narrows, Interest Nationally Widens
National Republicans and their allies in business are making a furious last-minute push to save a once reliably Republican House seat in western New York, as their candidate's comfortable lead vanished amid voter backlash to a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare (Hernandez, 5/22).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Medicare Plan Gets Tough Test In House Race In New York
Kathy Hochul, the Democrat within reach of a stunner in the special U.S. House election here Tuesday, is not yet two minutes into her pitch at a candidates' forum when she brings up her opposition to Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare. Hochul, the Erie County clerk, mentions Ryan again a minute later and then two minutes later. At nine minutes, a reporter asks about Medicare, and the 52-year-old attorney offers a broad smile. "I'm glad you asked that question," she said (Hennessey, 5/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Poll Favors Democrat In Special Election
A Democratic congressional candidate has built a slight lead in a traditionally Republican district, according to a new poll on a special election Tuesday eyed by some in both parties as a referendum on the House GOP plan to overhaul Medicare (Hughes, 5/23).

Politico: Republicans Ignored Warnings On Paul Ryan Plan
The poll numbers on the plan were so toxic - nearly as bad as those of President Barack Obama's health reform bill at the nadir of its unpopularity - that staffers with the National Republican Congressional Committee warned leadership, "You might not want to go there" in a series of tense pre-vote meetings (Thrush and Sherman, 5/23).

NPR: Vermont Steps Closer To Single-Payer Health Care
Vermont is about to accomplish something the federal government couldn't. Once Gov. Peter Shumlin signs a bill on May 26, the state will be on track to having a single-payer health care system (5/22).

The New York Times: U.S. Objects To New Law On Clinics In Indiana
The Obama administration is raising serious objections to a new Indiana law that cuts off state and federal money for Planned Parenthood clinics providing health care to low-income women on Medicaid. The objections set the stage for a clash between the White House and Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, over an issue that ignites passions in both parties (Pear, 5/22).

USA Today: One In Six Children Have A Developmental Disability
More than 15% of school-age kids - about 10 million children - had a developmental disability in 2006-08, according to a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics. That's up from 12.8% in 1997-99 (Szabo, 5/22).

Chicago Tribune: Patients At Heart Of Medical Device Issue
Patients in need of permanently implantable, life-sustaining medical devices may assume that the products have undergone rigorous clinical and regulatory scrutiny and that rules put in place to protect their rights are enforced to the letter of the law. Part 1 (Shelton and Grotto, 5/22).

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy news, such as the continuing fallout from Newt Gingrich's comments on the GOP Medicare plan, including a response from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; the latest on how  Medicare is playing in a New York special congressional election; what former Gov. John Huntsman says about Utah's health reforms; and how protestors disrupt an Aetna meeting.  

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