KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In The News: Senate And Jobs Bill; Obama Appeals To Seniors; States’ Medicaid Squeeze; Beyond COBRA

Today's headlines highlight President Obama's planned visit to a senior center to tout health reform, while several columns examine insurance issues, what doctors say about electronic medical record goals and military treatment of traumatic brain injuries is investigated

Senate Dems Move On Jobs Bill
Pulled from the left and the right, Senate Democrats on Monday began shopping changes to a House-passed jobs bill that would increase aid to cash-strapped states while treading more lightly on new tax rules aimed at private equity interests with clout in the party. An estimated $24 billion in Medicaid funds - dropped by the House before Memorial Day - would be restored after an outcry from governors and liberals. At the same time, Senate tax writers hope to placate a handful of Democrats on the East and West coasts by softening House reforms that target wealthy investment-fund partners (Politico).

Obama Will Tout $250 Health-Care Rebate In Town Hall Meeting With Seniors
Remember health care? President Obama has spent most of the past five weeks dealing with the oil spill disaster in the Gulf, financial regulation reform and still-simmering concern about the fate of the economic recovery (The Washington Post).

Obama Pitching Seniors On Health Bill
President Barack Obama is turning his attention back to his signature health care bill and trying to win over the most skeptical constituency: seniors (The Associated Press).

Obama's 'Tele-Town Hall' Targets Health Scams Against The Elderly
President Obama hosts a "tele-town hall" meeting at a senior center in Maryland on Tuesday that is timed to coincide with the first mailing of rebate checks to elderly Americans (CNN). 

Medicaid Cut Places States In Budget Bind
Having counted on Washington for money that may not be delivered, at least 30 states will have to close larger-than-anticipated shortfalls in the coming fiscal year unless Congress passes a six-month extension of increased federal spending on Medicaid (The New York Times).

Pilot Plan On Health An Option For States
An early look at Pennsylvania's experiment in delivering better and, in the long run, less-expensive health care underscores the challenges and potential benefits of one idea being explored as part of the health overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

Albany Lawmakers Pass Big Cuts In Health
State lawmakers approved $775 million in cuts and other savings from New York's health care budget on Monday after Gov. David A. Paterson inserted the reductions into emergency spending legislation submitted to the Legislature to keep the state government from shutting down (The New York Times).

Heart Problem Underscores Need To Test Competing Treatments
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, in a story produced in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "Judy Currier remembers waking up the morning after doctors spent hours cauterizing tissue inside her heart. They were trying to correct a rapid, irregular heartbeat that had left her exhausted, frequently out of breath and at a higher risk of stroke" (Kaiser Health News).

Law Could Ban Low-Cost Plans
Part of the health care overhaul due to kick in this September could strip more than 1 million people of their insurance coverage, violating a key goal of President Barack Obama's reforms (Politico).

Health Insurance Options For Unemployed Beyond COBRA
When you're out of work, you experience a lot of dark days, but for thousands of unemployed people, June 1 was particularly bleak (USA Today).

Republicans Put Health Reform On Ballot In Push To Turn Out Conservatives
Republicans are banking that anti-health reform ballot initiatives will give them a significant edge in the November midterm elections (The Hill). 

Pregnant Women And New Mothers Will Get Benefits, Services Under Health Care Law
In her KHN consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "By the time women reach 44 years old, roughly 85 percent have given birth. Yet even though pregnancy and childbirth are such commonplace events, health insurance coverage and support services to keep mothers and babies healthy are often seriously deficient" (Kaiser Health News).

Doctors And Hospitals Say Goals On Computerized Records Are Unrealistic
In February 2009, as part of legislation to revive the economy, Congress provided tens of billions of dollars to help doctors and hospitals buy equipment to computerize patients' medical records (The New York Times).

Enlisting Patients In The Fight To Cut Costs
Dagmar Frias never really got the hang of her asthma medications. She would use an inhaler whenever she started wheezing, but the drugs she was supposed to take every day remained in her dresser drawer, untouched (The New York Times).

What Happens When Medical, Religious Ethics Clash?
The case of an abortion at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix prompted an angry bishop to rebuke the Sister of Mercy who allowed the surgery to save the mother's life (USA Today). 

Military Still Failing To Diagnose, Treat Brain Injuries
The military's medical system is failing to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. NPR's Daniel Zwerdling and T. Christian Miller, of the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica, talk to Steve Inskeep about a new series of investigative reports. They looked into the military's system of caring for soldiers, who suffer from traumatic brain injury (NPR).

State Medical Marijuana Laws Are Getting Stricter
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia allow people to use marijuana to treat a wide variety of ailments. Each law is different - but if you look at them in chronological order, a pattern emerges: The laws are becoming stricter. The states passing laws today include more regulation than the early adopters did (NPR).

Virginia Attorney General Urges Judge To Let Suit Over Health Care-Law Proceed
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II told a federal judge Monday that he should let a suit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care law proceed and deny a request by the Obama administration that the case be dismissed (The Washington Post).

Study: Several D.C. Area Hospitals Do Not Have Non-Discrimination Policies For Gays
A study by a prominent gay rights organization found that nearly half of 17 Washington area hospitals do not explicitly include "sexual orientation" or "gender identity" in their patients' bills of rights or nondiscrimination policies (The Washington Post).


What We Learned From Health Care Huffington Post
As much as we'd love to declare victory and take the summer off, we have to make sure the implementation phase of health care reform gets done right. We need to ensure that people see the benefits of reform personally -- and soon (Gara LaMarche).

ObamaCare Strikes Out With Workers  Politico
For better or - more likely - worse, health insurance is heavily entangled with the labor market. Today, roughly 163 million workers and their families receive health insurance coverage from their employers; and about one-half of the ObamaCare spending is for insurance subsidies. … These subsidies threaten to undermine existing labor market relationships (Douglas Holtz-Eakin).

Left To Obama: We're Not Happy  Politico
Obama's relationship with the left took a big hit on health care reform when the administration agreed to major deals with drug companies and signed off on a deal to strip the public option from the Senate bill (Glenn Thrush).

A Political Health Worry  The Boston Globe
Here's a problem for every Massachusetts politician who wants to get the spiraling cost of health care under control: Constituents may have a different point of view (Steven Syre).


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