KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 24, 2009

Today's headlines shed light on developments during the second day of the Finance Committee's health bill mark up.

Health On The Hill: Baucus Asks Finance Committee For Truman-Like Courage
As the Senate Finance Committee devolved into partisan infighting about health overhaul legislation, chairman Max Baucus quoted Harry Truman's advice to show some courageous, skillful leadership, and seize the opportunity to change things for the better (Kaiser Health News).

Panel's Battles On Health Highlight A Broader Split
Senate Democrats swatted down Republican attempts to make fundamental changes in their health care legislation on Wednesday as the Finance Committee voted on a wide range of amendments that highlighted the deep partisan divide over the bill (The New York Times).

Medicare Is Focus On Day 2 Of Health-Care Negotiations
Slogging through a second day of work on legislation intended to overhaul the nation's health-care system, the Senate Finance Committee wrestled Wednesday with politically volatile proposals to squeeze money out of Medicare (The Washington Post).

Democrats Seek Cuts In Medicare Advantage
More than 10 million seniors enrolled in an enhanced, private version of Medicare known as Medicare Advantage - including 175,000 in Massachusetts - could see their plans shrink or be replaced with traditional coverage under the health care overhaul plans proposed by Democrats in Congress (The Boston Globe).

GOP Seizes On Medicare Fears
Democrats have a Medicare problem, and Republicans are pulling out all the stops to capitalize on it (The Hill).

Senator Tries To Allay Fears On Health Overhaul
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida desperately wants to expand health insurance coverage because one in five Floridians is uninsured. As a former state insurance commissioner, he wants to crack down on insurers. And as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, he can shape legislation to achieve both goals (The New York Times).

Democrats Win First Battles Over Plans To Curtail Health Costs
Senate Finance Committee members clashed over Medicare cost-cutting plans, with Democrats winning the first skirmishes yesterday over how to curb spending in the federal program for the elderly (Bloomberg).

Health Care Bill Intact With Challenges Ahead
Health care legislation along the lines sought by President Barack Obama is moving methodically if slowly through the Senate Finance Committee, where Republicans are so far unable to force any significant changes and Democrats have yet to try (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

Pelosi Tries To Herd Conflicted Caucus
With all the attention focused on the Senate Finance Committee markup this week, Pelosi put her rank and file on notice Wednesday, telling Democrats in a closed-door session in the Capitol basement that she "hopes" to unveil a combined House health care bill by the end of next week. The speaker is anxious to preserve as much leverage with the Senate as she can, meaning she'd like to go as far left as possible without losing too many of her own (Politico).

Mandate Minus Price Controls May Increase Healthcare Costs
In the drive to bring health coverage to almost every American, lawmakers have largely rejected restrictions on how much insurers can charge, sparking fears that consumers will continue to face the skyrocketing premium increases of recent years (Los Angeles Times).

Immigrants Cling To Fragile Lifeline At Safety-Net Hospital
If Grady Memorial Hospital succeeds in closing its outpatient dialysis clinic, Tadesse A. Amdago, a 69-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, said he would begin "counting the days until I die." Rosa Lira, 78, a permanent resident from Mexico, said she also assumed she "would just die." Another woman, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Honduras, said she could only hope to make it "back to my country to die" (The New York Times).

Experimental HIV Vaccine Raises Hopes
For the first time, an experimental vaccine has prevented infection with the AIDS virus, a watershed event in the deadly epidemic and a surprising result. Recent failures led many scientists to think such a vaccine might never be possible (The Associated Press/The Wall Street Journal).

Dems Race To Stop Medicare Fee Hike
House Democrats proposed Wednesday to freeze Medicare Part B premiums for the coming year rather than risk what would be an October surprise for health care reform - threatened cuts in Social Security checks for millions of elderly (Politico).

Health Reform Has A New Messenger
"I do foreign policy, I don't do healthcare," Vice President Biden told an audience at the Brookings Institution earlier this month. But it turns out Mr. Biden does do healthcare – especially in a week where President Obama is out front on foreign policy. With the health reform debate building as the Senate Finance Committee hammers out its bill, the White House appears determined to pound home its message on a daily basis. Biden also reportedly plans to get more involved in engaging his former Senate colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, on the issue (The Christian Science Monitor).


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