KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

President Delivers Emotional Speech, Pushes For Reform In Ohio

The Associated Press: "With a fresh sense of urgency, President Barack Obama sought to reassure seniors Monday about health care legislation approaching a final vote in Congress, pledging it would make preventive care cost-free and close a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage. 'This proposal adds almost a decade of solvency to Medicare,' Obama said in a visit to a senior center." Obama's Ohio appearance "marked his third out-of-town foray" as he works to generate support "for long-stalled legislation to remake the health care system. Administration officials have predicted the legislation will clear the House by the end of the week, but Democratic leaders had not yet released the measure as the president's helicopter lifted off from the White House grounds." The House Budget Committee was slated to begin a meeting in the mid-afternoon which would kick off "a series of events expected to culminate in a House vote within days" (Feller, 3/15).

BusinessWeek: "President Barack Obama focused on the plight of Americans without health insurance as part of his final push for an overhaul of the U.S. medical system. ... Obama said the legislation would also help keep the Medicare program for the elderly solvent for another decade. Republicans have raised concerns about the plan's effect on Medicare because Democrats plan to find more than $400 billion in savings from the program to help fund the insurance expansion" (Brower and Jensen, 3/15). 

Congress Daily: "The president's remarks on Medicare reflected the White House concern over the strong opposition of senior citizens to his proposed overhaul, as seen in many public opinion polls. ... He insisted healthcare proposal would be good for older Americans and for the Medicare system" (Cordon and House, 3/15).

ABC News: "President Obama highlighted the struggle of one Ohio woman facing a serious illness without health insurance and injected a human element into the frantic negotiations and debate back in Washington. Natoma Canfield is a 50-year-old cleaning woman and cancer survivor from Medina, Ohio, who had to drop her Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance because her monthly premiums kept skyrocketing." Obama has made her story "a key part" of his final health reform push. "'I'm here because of Natoma,' Obama said. ... Canfield told ABC News that she could no longer afford to keep her health insurance. 'I went into debt trying to keep coverage when it was $500 a month, and I couldn't do it anymore at $700 a month,' she said. ... Canfield is now back in the hospital after more than a decade being cancer-free. She was diagnosed with leukemia last week" (Tapper and Travers, 3/15). 

Reuters: "On a visit to Ohio, Obama again criticized the health insurance industry to make his case for a revamp of the system to rein in what he called abuses by insurers, declaring it is time for 'health insurance reform, right now!'" In addition to mentioning Natoma Canfield's story, the president also talked about his own mother, Ann Dunham, who died of cancer in 1995. "'In the last six months of her life, she was on the phone in her hospital room arguing with insurance companies instead of focusing on getting well and spending time with her family,' Obama said" (Bull and Holland, 3/15).

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