KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 4, 2009

With health care messages, ads and protests on tap, this August vacation may not be much of a vacation.

Will Emphasis On Prevention Bring Health Costs Down?
If there is one thing that both parties can agree on in the health overhaul debate, it's the need to build a health system that promotes prevention rather than just manages disease (Kaiser Health News).

Obama Renews Vow Of No Middle-Class Tax Increase
The White House tried Monday to douse speculation that it might raise taxes on the middle class in violation of President Obama's campaign promise, just a day after two of his top economic advisers left the door open to such a move to rein in spiraling deficits (New York Times).

Obama Gives Powerful Drug Lobby A Seat At Healthcare Table
As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington. He even ran a television ad targeting the industry's chief lobbyist, former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin, and the role Tauzin played in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices (LA Times).

Left Is Miffed At Pelosi Over Her Comment
House liberals are offended that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mocked their threats to oppose a Democratic healthcare bill, saying leaders are underestimating their frustration over a deal cut with centrist Blue Dogs (The Hill).

Democrats' Break Looking Like A Bad Trip
For Democrats, … the ability to make their case on health care at public events during the August recess is mostly in the hands of the people who turn out for the events. And if those people want to be disruptive - especially en masse - there's not much the Democrats can do about it (Politico).

Senate Dems At Odds Over Health Deadline
A bipartisan group of senators has yet to establish a deadline for completing healthcare legislation, according to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), contradicting a party leader. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who is leading closed-door negotiations, downplayed reports the he had until Sept. 15 to complete work on the bill (The Hill).

Senate Democrats Willing To Bypass GOP On Health Bill
Senate Democrats won't hesitate to forgo bipartisanship to pass a health-overhaul bill if negotiations fail in the next month, Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday (Wall Street Journal).

Three Senators Hold Healthcare Reform In Their Hands
After months of work involving nearly one third of the House and half the Senate, prospects for healthcare reform are coming down to what six senators can work out by a self-imposed Sept. 15 deadline (Christian Science Monitor).

Health Plan Opponents Make Voices Heard
The protests, organized by loose-knit coalition of conservative voters and advocacy groups, were a raucous start to what is expected to be weeks of political and ideological clashes over the health care overhaul President Obama is trying to push through Congress (New York Times).

Public Baffled By Health Care Arguments
As members of Congress head home for the summer recess, they will use the time to either sell to their constituents the national health care and insurance overhaul being fiercely debated in Washington, or deep-six it (National Public Radio).

Public Passions Are Rising On Health Care Overhaul
Booed, jeered and occasionally cheered in a raucous session with the public, a Democratic senator said Monday that other lawmakers can expect the same as they face voters on the divisive issue of overhauling health care (Associated Press).

Recess Health Care Ad Blitz Kicks Off
Health care reform has "the potential to become the mother of all advocacy ad wars," says Evan Tracey, founder of the Campaign Media Analysis Group (Politico).

Rationing Care Is Standard Practice
The unspoken truth among doctors is that we objectively or subjectively ration care, and often don't tell patients or their families (Washington Post).

Weighty Choices, In Patients' Hands
For many patients, the current health-policy debate comes down to a very personal issue: how to make ever-more-complex decisions when faced with multiple options, each with no clear advantage and with risks and harms that patients may value differently. Preliminary data from the National Survey of Medical Decisions, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, showed that doctors are more likely to discuss the advantages of treatments while giving short shrift to the disadvantages. The study also found that doctors often offer their opinion but much less frequently ask the patient's own opinion (Wall Street Journal).

Rural Hospital Hinging Future On Federal Incentive
Electronic medical records are a life-or-death issue at Sac-Osage Hospital - not necessarily just for the patients, but for the hospital itself (Associated Press).

Health Care Free, Just Pay For The Vacation
Uninsured, under-insured and not sure Obamacare is going to ramp up in case you suddenly need a triple heart bypass? Consider a vacation to Mexico's chaotic yet caring capital (Houston Chronicle). 

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