KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 28, 2009

A look at today's headlines reveals that specific issues regarding the health overhaul effort continue to get significant attention and trigger debate.

Not Enough Insurance And Swimming In Medical Bills
More than 25 million Americans have Swiss-cheese health insurance: it's full of holes. Experts call them the "under-insured" (NPR in partnership with Kaiser Health News).

The Underinsurance Problem Explained
People who are described as underinsured have health benefits that don't adequately cover their medical expenses. Often, consumers discover they're underinsured the hard way – when they break a leg or have a serious illness, such as cancer, and their medical bills exceed their benefits enough that it is difficult for them to pay (Kaiser Health News and NPR). See also the slideshow.

On Medicare Spending, A Role Reversal
After years of trying to cut Medicare spending, Republican lawmakers have emerged as champions of the program, accusing Democrats of trying to steal from the elderly to cover the cost of health reform (The Washington Post).

Health Care Polls Leave Pols Dizzy
You could forgive a typical poll-driven pol for being driven around the bend by health reform. Legislators hoping to learn what their constituents think about the issue - and how to vote to keep them happy - face a dizzying deluge of hard-to-reconcile data, some of which suggests that voters are more than a little confused, as well (Politico).

Health Care Hot Spots
On the issue of health care, it sometimes seems like members of Congress are having two different debates - with each one diametrically opposed to the other and neither side listening to the other (Politico).

Reid The Quarterback May Call On Obama To Referee
As the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, takes on the delicate task of melding two competing versions of major health care legislation, aides say he will lean heavily on President Obama to arbitrate a number of contentious issues that still threaten to divide liberal and centrist Democrats and derail a final bill (The New York Times).

Insurers Tally Up Baucus Bill Provisions
The health-system overhaul proposed by Sen. Max Baucus would create millions of new insurance customers without subjecting health insurers to government-run competition -- two key victories for the much-maligned industry (The Wall Street Journal).

Baucus Health Bill Would Let Private Groups Write The Rules
Healthcare overhaul legislation moving through the Senate Finance Committee would put crucial rule-making authority in the hands of a private association of state insurance commissioners that consumer advocates fear is too closely tied to the industry (Los Angeles Times).

Sen. Rockefeller Seeks To Extend Health Bill's Protections
More than 70 million people who work at large companies would not get health insurance protections sought by President Obama under a closely watched Senate health care bill, a Democratic lawmaker involved in the debate says (USA Today).

Public Option Debate Continues To Divide Democrats On Healthcare
The most controversial component of healthcare reform promises to vex Democrats the rest of the year (The Hill).

People Playing The Odds On Health Care Over Costs
Call it a health care gamble: the decision by some people to opt out of health insurance, paying cash for routine care while playing the odds that an accident or catastrophic illness won't plunge them into financial ruin (The Associated Press).

Use Of Federal Health Clinics Soars
Federally funded health centers, originally created to serve the poor, are seeing a surge of patients as more Americans struggle financially (The Wall Street Journal).

State's Health System Popular
Public support for Massachusetts' closely watched health insurance overhaul has slipped over the past year, a new poll indicates, but residents still support the path-breaking 2006 law by a 2-to-1 ratio (The Boston Globe).

Canards Infest Health Care Debate
Uwe Reinhardt, the eminent Princeton University economist, says that dueling political claims notwithstanding, the health care overhaul that Americans want is clear (The New York Times).

In Canada, A Move Toward A Private Insurance Option
When the pain in Christina Woodkey's legs became so severe that she could no long hike or cross-country ski, she went to her local health clinic. The Calgary, Canada, resident was told she'd need to see a hip specialist. Because the problem was not life-threatening, however, she'd have to wait about a year (Los Angeles Times).

Kaiser Health News also provides a round up of headlines from Saturday and Sunday.

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