KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Various Personalities Weigh In On Health Care

A range of personalities offer their different perspectives on health care reform.

Time profiles Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's and charges that the Obama administration wants to restrict care: r"Emanuel, the medical ethicist and oncologist who advises President Obama, does not own a television, and if you catch him in a typically energized moment, when his mind speeds even faster than his mouth, he is likely to blurt out something like, 'I hate the Internet.' So it took him several days in late July to discover he had been singled out by opponents of health-care reform as a 'deadly doctor,' who, according to an opinion column in the New York Post, wanted to limit medical care for 'a grandmother with Parkinson's or a child with cerebral palsy'"

"For decades, Emanuel has studied the ethics of medical care, especially in situations where a scarcity of resources requires hard decisions to be made. His work sometimes deals with the hardest possible decisions, like how to choose who gets a single kidney if there are three patients in need, or the reasons why doctors order tests with little medical value ... But in a country where trust is in short supply, Emanuel has become a proxy for all the worst fears of government efforts to rein in costs by denying care" (Scherer, 8/12).

NPR's Madeleine Brand spoke with Wendell Potter, a former chief spokesman at one of the nation's largest health insurers:  "(Potter) was a top executive at Cigna Healthcare. He was working there the last time a Democratic president tried to massively overhaul health care and that was back in the early '90s. Last year, Wendell Potter became disillusioned with his industry, and he left to become an advocate of health care reform. He recently testified in front of Congress. He told senators that the industry works, in his words, to confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors" (Brand, 8/11).

National Journal reports on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's stance on health care reform: "The Chamber has three main demands from health care reform: controlling costs, making it harder for insurance companies to deny coverage and streamlining a competitive insurance market. .... [it] will not support legislation that includes a government-run public option, a "job killing" employer mandate or an increase in taxes" (Sussman, 8/12).

The [Longview, Tex.] News-Journal reports top hospital executives warning that people should be cautious about health care overhaul.

The Journal reports: "Edward Banos, president and CEO of Good Shepherd Medical Center, and Jim Kendrick, president and CEO of Longview Regional Medical Center, shared the floor Tuesday morning for the Longview Partnership's Business Advocacy Committee's summer legislative breakfast. They and others discussed proposals being considered in Congress that could overhaul the way health care is provided to millions of Americans. ... 'A lot of small steps are needed,' Banos said. 'But I feel a major overhaul of the system will create more problems than it will help'" (Elswick, 8/12).

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