KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 9, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about the politics -- and possible direction -- of Medicare and other entitlement programs within the coninuing budget debate.

Kaiser Health News: The IPAB: How Will It Change Medicare
Kaiser Health News's Bara Vaida, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, writes: "It sounds like a new Apple product, but IPAB is actually a controversial board at the heart of a highly charged battle over Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly and disabled" (Vaida, 5/8).

Kaiser Health News: High-Risk coverage Pools Grow By 6,000 Enrollees
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Since February, nearly 6,000 people have been added to the new federally funded health insurance program for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions, according to data released today" (Galewitz, 5/6).

Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: A New Cost Control Idea – Paying for Outcomes
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, John McDonough writes that when it comes to controlling rising health care costs, we face an urgent problem that leads to a simple question: Is there a smart idea that can be done now? Yes. It's called "Paying for Outcomes" (5/9).

Politico: Big Medicare Overhaul? Don't Count On It
Confused by what comes after the dueling deficit plans by President Barack Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan? Not sure whether to follow the bipartisan deficit talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, the bipartisan "Gang of Six" talks, or the budget resolution being written by Sen. Kent Conrad, who's also in the "Gang of Six"? (Nather, 5/7).

Politico: Republicans Clarify: We're On The Same Page On Medicare
House Republicans sought to clarify a week of disparate messaging on Medicare in a Friday evening press release, announcing they are on the same page and committed to reworking entitlement programs as part of the bill to raise the debt ceiling. … The unified statement is in sharp contrast to the conflicting Republican statements that emerged this week on whether reforming Medicare will be part of debt ceiling talks, or a long-term goal (Sherman, 5/6).

The New York Times: Battle Over Health Care Law Shifts To Federal Appellate Courts
A five-week flurry of federal appellate hearings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law kicks off Tuesday in Richmond, Va., beginning the second round of a race to the Supreme Court among a multitude of litigants eager to strike down the president's signature domestic achievement (Sack, 5/8).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Finding It Hard To Make Progress
The problem was underscored last week when Republicans bowed to political realities on their signature issue of entitlement reform, acknowledging that a plan to overhaul and eventually privatize Medicare would not advance anytime soon, and would not be part of a deal with the White House to raise the government's borrowing limit (Hennessey and Mascaro, 5/8).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Kathleen Sebelius's Outrageous Claim That Cancer Patients Would 'Die Sooner' Under The GOP Medicare Plan
Secretary Sebelius made this eye-popping statement Thursday while testifying on Capitol Hill, after Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J) asked her a question about the Medicare plan advanced by House Republicans: "What might that cost shift and lack of guaranteed benefit mean for an oncology patient, a person with cancer? Give me an example, what it might do there." Her answer was strong stuff, suggesting that the GOP plan could cause people to "die sooner" if they had cancer and ran out of money. We have been critical of some of the ways Republicans have described the plan, but is this even remotely possible? (Kessler, 5/9).

The New York Times: Tight Race For Congress Prompts Visit By Boehner
Mr. Boehner's appearance underscores the national stake in the race, and reflects the changing fortunes of the candidate, Jane L. Corwin. … In recent weeks, Ms. Corwin has watched her advantage in the race all but disappear as her Democratic rival, Kathy Hochul, seized upon public uneasiness over the House Republicans' plan to overhaul Medicare, the federal health insurance program for retirees (Hernandez, 5/8).

Los Angeles Times: Antiabortion Measures Flooding State Legislatures
Energized by Republican gains in the last election and still stinging from the passage of President Obama's healthcare overhaul, conservative lawmakers in statehouses around the country have put forward a torrent of measures aimed at restricting abortion (Abcarian, 5/8).

Kaiser Health News tracked weekend developments. Here are more reports about retiree health costs, fact-checking from Thursday night's GOP presidential candidate debate, states' sweeping health care changes, this week's health law appeals court hearing and how the GOP Medicare proposal continues to roil Washington politics.

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