KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Experts Debate Merits Of Public Plan And Individual Mandate

Some news outlets take a step back to explain various parts of health care legislation.

NPR reports: "The pitch for a public plan is that somehow it will be able to put the brakes on health care costs. Right now health care spending is rising so fast that Medicare and Medicaid are on pace to cripple the federal budget." The network examines the thoughts of Princeton economist and professor Uwe Reinhardt and Yale economist and professor Jacob Hacker regarding the public option. Reinhardt, who favors such a plan, but disagrees about a key argument for it: 'With all due respect for this brilliant president, I do not share, as an economist, his theory that a public plan would be a splendid instrument of cost control.'" Meanwhile, Hacker, "known as the 'father of the public option' idea - says it could cut costs. ... [and] would drive down costs in a couple ways. It would have lower administrative expenses than private insurers. And it would have the power to bargain for lower prices" (Kestenbaum, 9/17).

Meanwhile, CBS News talks to proponents and opponents to the "individual mandate," which Obama has said "would make health insurance more like car insurance – something that you legally must have, not something that you can decide whether or not to opt into" (Montopoli, 9/17).

Newsweek has a brief explainer of the Baucus plan: "Sen. Max Baucus's health-care reform proposal, released yesterday, will likely dominate the reform conversation for the next few days. At 220 pages, the chairman's mark, as it is called, is an easier read than H.R. 3200, the House bill. Still, it's a lot to get through." The explainer highlights eight key issues including illegal immigrants, co-ops, exchanges, mandates, free riders, subsidies and Medicaid, abortion and insurance regulation (Connolly, 9/17).

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