KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 12, 2010

Today's news coverage details developments related to pending health reform plans with President Obama's meeting with organized labor regarding the 'Cadillac' tax claiming a lot of headlines.  

Economist Butler: Give States Maximum Flexibility Under Health Reform
Stuart Butler has seen health overhaul plans come and go during the three decades he has tracked health care policy at the Heritage Foundation. But this time is different, says the organization's vice president of domestic and economic policy studies. With legislative activity now entering the "endgame," he says, it's important to focus on how crucial issues might be resolved (Kaiser Health News).

Deadline Looms Over Reform
House and Senate Democrats still have major differences to iron out as they race to send President Barack Obama health care reform before his State of the Union address - not the least of which is whether they can even meet his latest deadline (Politico).

President Signals Flexibility On Health Plan Tax
President Obama told union leaders at a private White House meeting on Monday that he remained committed to taxing high-cost insurance policies as a way to drive down health costs. But he also signaled that he was willing to amend the proposal to "make this work for working families," a senior administration official said (The New York Times).

Obama Meets With Union Leaders To Discuss Health-Care Reform
President Obama sought on Monday evening to assuage organized labor's misgivings about the health-care overhaul, even as several key union leaders warned that the bill's final outlines could severely dampen their enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket in this year's elections (The Washington Post).

Labor Leaders Object To 'Cadillac Tax' For Healthcare
Underscoring a rift in the Democratic political coalition, national labor leaders met with President Obama on Monday and raised objections to a proposed tax that they said would harm union members and cause a backlash in the November midterm election (Los Angeles Times).

Unions Fear Health Tax Would Target Middle Class
Imposing a tax on the most costly health insurance plans is important, many say essential, to bringing health care costs down. The problem for President Obama is that the unions for years have been negotiating bigger and better health insurance packages in lieu of wage increases. On Monday, Obama met with labor leaders to discuss the matter (NPR).

Labor Angry Over Obama-Backed Insurance Tax
Labor leaders are pushing hard on President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to drop a proposed new tax on high-value health insurance plans, warning of political consequences (The Associated Press).

Newest Hurdle to How to Pay For Healthcare Reform: Unions
Any final healthcare bill that emerges from Congress will almost certainly contain a tax on high-cost insurance plans. But will that levy only apply to truly expensive, "Cadillac" policies? Or will it hit some Chevrolet-level plans, as well (The Christian Science Monitor)?

Democrats Weigh New Tax On Investment Income
House and Senate negotiators are considering applying for the first time the Medicare payroll tax to investment income as part of a compromise to pay for a health overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

Analysts Question Savings, Revenue In Health Care Bill
As Democratic leaders continue talks this week over how to pay for health care legislation, they are coming under renewed pressure from independent analysts who question whether long-term savings called for in the bill are realistic (USA Today).

Dems Stiffen Spines On Health Bill
Back home, nervous Democrats sound squishy on health care reform. Some will return to Washington this week demanding changes. A few will almost certainly threaten to withhold their votes (Politico).

House, Senate View Health Exchanges Differently
One key element of both the House and Senate health bills would create new health insurance "exchanges" where individuals and small businesses could purchase health insurance. NPR's Julie Rovner looks at how these exchanges might work and how the different approaches of the two bills might affect what kind of insurance coverage could be available (NPR).

New Breast Screening Limits Face Reversal
Annual mammograms, seemingly on their way out under new federal guidelines last year, may be coming back (The Wall Street Journal).

For Severely Ill Children, A Dearth Of Doctors
A growing shortage of pediatricians trained in specialties such as neurology, gastroenterology, and developmental and behavioral medicine is threatening timely access to care for children, according to pediatric medical groups (The Wall Street Journal).

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