KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: March 16, 2010

In today's headlines, ongoing efforts by President Obama and Democratic leaders to press and persuade wavering votes in support of health reform take center stage.

Novel Health Plans Try To Help Uninsured
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with USA Today, writes about an approach known as "three share" which helps expand health coverage by spreading health insurance premium costs among the community, the employer and the worker. "In historic downtown Pueblo, Colo., business is down at the Gold Dust Saloon, a kid-friendly place known for a hamburger smothered with chili called the "slopper." Despite the tough financial times, the restaurant recently decided to help cooks and waiters buy health coverage for the first time in its 25-year history" (Kaiser Health News).

Democrats Grind Out Health Care, A Vote At A Time
President Obama was in Ohio on Monday to give his third campaign-style, outside-the-Beltway health care overhaul sales pitch in the past half-dozen days (NPR).

Wavering Dems In Obama's Sights On Health Vote
Days away from a make-or-break vote on his health care overhaul, President Barack Obama is turning up the pressure as only presidents can, as Democratic leaders make a desperate scramble for votes (The Associated Press).

Dem Leaders Apply Pressure
Democratic leaders are using a mixture of pressure and persuasion to get Hispanic Democrats in the "yes" column when it comes to the vote on healthcare (The Hill).

Democrats: Store Closed For Health Care Reform Deals
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is playing hardball with her rank and file in the run-up to an historic health care vote (Politico).

House May Try To Pass Senate Health-Care Bill Without Voting On It
After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate's health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it (The Washington Post).

Five Ways To Pass Or Sink Health Care Reform
With a 2,000-plus page bill, roughly a week to pass it and countless wavering House members, the political degree of difficulty of passing health reform is as high as it can be for Democrats (Politico).

Will This Be The Week Congressional Democrats Reverse Their Fortunes?
Will this week be the start of a political comeback for congressional Democrats? … by Sunday, Democrats could not only have passed a health-care bill, but with it have pushed through the House of Representatives long-delayed legislation that would increase funding for Pell Grants, which help low-income students pay for college. They also could send to President Obama a $17 billion measure designed to create jobs (The Washington Post).

Obama Tries To Personalize The Health Bill
Declaring that "every argument has been made" on his health care overhaul, President Obama sought to seal the deal with Congress and the American people Monday by focusing on a single patient: a self-employed cleaning woman who dropped her costly insurance plan and just discovered she has leukemia (The New York Times).

Obama Calls For Action On Healthcare: 'We Need Courage'
Seeking to build public pressure, President Obama traveled Monday to Ohio, where he urged Congress to act courageously and quickly pass his healthcare overhaul plan (Los Angeles Times).

Obama Brings Health-Care Push To Ohio
The health-care homestretch began with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveling to the districts of wavering Ohio congressmen as the party pushes its health-overhaul legislation toward a final vote (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama Calls For Courage
President Barack Obama on Monday called on Democratic lawmakers to show "courage" by voting for healthcare reform as the House moved one step closer to passing the massive bill (The Hill).

Obama Stumps As House Brass Grasp For Votes
President Obama made a campaign-style trip Monday to Ohio to stir up support for his health care legislation, as congressional allies scrambled for votes and began mulling arcane parliamentary tactics to pass the measure (USA Today).

Parties Plot Tactics At Crunch Time
Republicans are threatening to make life difficult for Democrats if they try to push health care reform through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process. The response from Democrats: What else is new (Politico)?

Left Warns Dems On Health Care Vote
Labor and progressive leaders are threatening House Democrats who oppose health care legislation with potentially destructive third party challenges in November (Politico).

What If Obama Fails On Healthcare Reform?
It is an outcome that the Obama White House and its loyal supporters are absolutely not willing to entertain in public: failure to pass comprehensive healthcare reform (The Christian Science Monitor).

Bill Gives Insurers A Younger Market
Although insurers generally oppose the Democrats' health-care bill, an overhaul would give the industry a chance to boost its diminishing rolls with an influx of young customers who tend to be healthy and profitable to cover (The Wall Street Journal).

With Medicaid Cuts, Doctors And Patients Drop Out
It has not taken long for communities like Flint to feel the downstream effects of a nationwide torrent of state cuts to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled. With states squeezing payments to providers even as the economy fuels explosive growth in enrollment, patients are finding it increasingly difficult to locate doctors and dentists who will accept their coverage. Inevitably, many defer care or wind up in hospital emergency rooms, which are required to take anyone in an urgent condition (The New York Times).

The Informed Patient - New Focus On Averting Errors: Hospital Culture
Errors made by doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers cause 44,000 to 98,000 deaths a year. Hospital infections, many considered preventable, take another 100,000 lives. And mistakes involving medications injure 1.3 million patients annually in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration (The Wall Street Journal).

Anthem Blue Cross Should Reimburse California Man For Transplant, Jury Says
A Los Angeles jury concluded Monday that Anthem Blue Cross should cover the cost of an out-of-state liver transplant that a California man paid for after the insurer balked (Los Angeles Times).

Insurer Details Its Unequal Payments
Newly released documents from a major insurer detail how certain hospitals and doctors are paid dramatically more than others for the same types of services, sometimes as much as three times higher (The Boston Globe).

About 1 In 4 In California Lack Health Insurance, A UCLA Study Finds
Nearly 1 in 4 Californians under age 65 had no health insurance last year, according to a new report, as soaring unemployment propelled vast numbers of once-covered workers into the ranks of the uninsured (Los Angeles Times). 

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