KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 21, 2011

In today's news, reports about President Barack Obama's Facebook visit during which he stepped up his criticism of GOP plans to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid but said he expects to strike a deal to reduce the deficit.

Kaiser Health News: Medical Wonder: Meet The CEO Who Rebuilt A Crumbling California Hospital
Russ Mitchell, working in collaboration with Fast Company and Kaiser Health News, writes: "A doctor is beaten and strangled to death by a patient, the body left on the floor for half an hour before a janitor happens across it. A mental patient hangs herself with her own clothes tied to the top of a toilet stall. HIV-infected blood is tossed out with the regular trash. Wright L. Lassiter III was thinking, Why should I take this job? There was more: Nurses who followed doctors' orders only when they felt like it. Millions of dollars in losses year after year. A culture that favored blame over accountability. A sad parade of feckless executives -- 10 CEOs in 11 years. It was 2005 and Lassiter was next in line" (Mitchell, 4/20).

The Associated Press: Obama Calls GOP Medicare, Spending Plan Radical
President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that congressional Republicans are pushing a radical plan to trim Medicare and Medicaid, ramping up the rhetoric before a friendly Facebook crowd at the headquarters of the popular social networking site. Still, as Obama and Congress approach crucial decisions on spending and the national debt the president said he thinks a bipartisan accord is possible (Pace, 4/20).

The Washington Post: At Facebook, Obama Seeks Friends For Deficit Plan
But he remained in disagreement with Republicans that social services such as Medicare and Medicaid should be cut while the government attempts to shore up its fiscal woes. "Nothing is easier than solving problems on the backs of people who are poor, powerless, or people who don't have lobbyists or clout," Obama said (Kang, 4/21).

Politico: At Facebook, Barack Obama Criticizes Republicans' Budget
With the battle lines on the deficit fight hardening, Obama used stronger language than he did on Tuesday at a similar town hall in Virginia to denounce the GOP proposal, which would make major changes to Medicare and Medicaid. … Obama continued to voice optimism that Republicans and Democrats would strike a deal to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade or 12 years, and that it can be done through prudent cuts that don't transform Medicare and Medicaid (Budoff Brown, 4/20).

The Associated Press: Supreme Court Notebook: Kagan Absences No Big Deal
The court's consideration of two big issues - health care and gay marriage - that appear headed the justices' way soon could be significantly affected if Kagan were to sit out. It is by no means certain that she would step aside from either of those. She already has taken part in the court's denial of a health care appeal, but that case turned on procedural issues, not the substance of Obama's health care overhaul (Sherman, 4/21).

The New York Times: Medical Experts Dispute A Hospital's Claims On Heart Device Data
[S]everal experts knowledgeable about that defibrillator database said in separate interviews that it did not track how device recipients fared after they left a hospital. As a result, it cannot and does not provide data to hospitals or manufacturers about the long-term performance of any company's device. It also does not produce data that can be used to compare the performance of competing implants made by different companies (Meier, 4/20).

Los Angeles Times: Two Lawsuits Challenge Los Angeles' Lottery Plan For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
The next round of the costly, drawn-out legal brawl over how to control medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

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