KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: October 29, 2009

Today's headlines are all about the unveiling of the House health bill -- expected later this morning.  

Finance Bill's Fine Print May Cause Sticker Shock For Some Consumers
Proponents of the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill say the legislation will limit the amount that lower- and middle-income people must pay for health insurance to a maximum of 12 percent of their incomes. But there's a catch: The fine print shows that, over time, the premium costs could rise well beyond those caps. That's because the cost of coverage would shift from a percentage of income to a percentage of the premium, no matter how high the premiums go (Kaiser Health News).

House Health-Care Reform Bill To Include Public Option
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will unveil a health-care reform bill on Thursday that includes a government insurance option and a historic expansion of Medicaid, although sticking points in the legislation involving abortion and immigration remain unresolved (The Washington Post).

House Health Compromise Has 'Public Option' With A Catch
Paving the way for a crucial vote on healthcare legislation in the next two weeks, House Democratic leaders plan to unveil a compromise bill today that would create a nationwide government-run insurance plan but omit what many liberals consider the key to cost control (Los Angeles Times).

Pelosi Hopes New Plan Is Poised To Pass
After months of contentious negotiating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to unveil a retooled health care overhaul plan intended to bridge differences among Democrats and open a history-making floor debate on extending health insurance to nearly all Americans (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

Pelosi Backs Off Having Set Rates For Public Option
Under pressure from moderate-to-conservative members of the House Democratic caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to propose a government-run insurance plan that would negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, rather than using prices set by the government, aides said Wednesday (The New York Times).

Pelosi Chooses Healthcare Bill With Public Option Favored By Centrists
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to unveil a health overhaul bill Thursday that includes the public health insurance option favored by her party's centrists (The Hill).

House Health Debate Hits Crunch Time
During a recent closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting, the speaker interrupted Rep. Earl Pomeroy, one of three Democrats to vote against the bill on the Ways and Means Committee, as he stood to lodge a complaint about a potentially costly long-term care provision in the Senate package (Politico).

Most Liberals Can Live With Compromises
Speaker Nancy Pelosi will unveil a bill Thursday that falls short of the liberal vision of a public option - and the liberals, so far and somewhat surprisingly, are going along with that (Politico).

Reid's Math: Liberal Fans Exceed Public-Plan Foes
Some of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's colleagues were surprised by his decision this week to include a government-run health-care plan in the Democrats' bill. But the mathematics of the Senate suggest the motives for the Nevada Democrat's gamble: While a handful of Democratic moderates don't like the so-called public option, the liberals who support it easily outnumber them -- and at least some of them warned Mr. Reid they would oppose a bill that didn't include the option (The Wall Street Journal).

GOP Tells Businesses To Speak Up
Senate Republicans have grown frustrated with large and small business trade associations for not helping enough to oppose the Democratic healthcare overhaul (The Hill).

In China, Too, A Health-Care System In Disarray
Shen Baohou, 72, who once worked for a hydropower station in Sichuan province, has a serious heart problem, and he -- and his children -- are paying for it dearly (The Washington Post).

Shortage Of Vaccine Poses Political Test For Obama
The moment a novel strain of swine flu emerged in Mexico last spring, President Obama instructed his top advisers that his administration would not be caught flat-footed in the event of a deadly pandemic. Now, despite months of planning and preparation, a vaccine shortage is threatening to undermine public confidence in government, creating a very public test of Mr. Obama's competence (The New York Times).

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