KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 29, 2009

The Finance Committee will resume work today on its mark up of its health bill -- with some fireworks likely on the public plan and other wild cards. 

Baucus Must Strike A Balance With Three Factions To Pass His Bill
As the Finance Committee resumes work today on Chairman Max Baucus' major health care bill, the Senate appears to be dividing into three important camps: those who are solidly behind Baucus, those reluctantly leaning in his direction and a handful of wild cards who will wield great influence (Kaiser Health News).

Holding Onto Insurance That Works
As part of the continuing series, "Are You Covered?" Dave Koenig, 49, is profiled. He has a job with good benefits. Still, he thinks some aspects of the insurance industry should be changed to protect patients from losing coverage (Kaiser Health News and NPR). Watch the related video.

Employer-Based Insurance Explained
Most Americans -- 162 million -- get health insurance through their employers. Sixty percent of employers offer health benefits, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. Generally, employers subsidize the cost of the insurance, but workers share the expense through a variety of payments, including premiums, co-payments and deductibles (Kaiser Health News).

Majority Leader Protects Home State
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has secured a special deal protecting his state against the costs of expanding Medicaid under one of the major health care bills moving through Congress (The New York Times).

In Some States, A Push To Ban Mandate On Insurance
In more than a dozen statehouses across the country, a small but growing group of lawmakers is pressing for state constitutional amendments that would outlaw a crucial element of the health care plans under discussion in Washington: the requirement that nearly everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty (The New York Times).

Striking A Balance On Spending
A dirty word in health-care reform is "rationing," a term that conjures up the image of faceless government bureaucrats denying lifesaving therapies in the name of cutting costs (The Washington Post).

Showdowns Set On Two Key Issues In Healthcare Debate
Congressional Democrats this week will push toward showdowns on two of the toughest issues in the healthcare debate: whether to create a government alternative to private insurance, and how to pay the approximately $1-trillion cost of the overhaul (Los Angeles Times).

Public Plan Debate Could Pit Democrat Vs. Democrat
It'll be Democrat vs. Democrat as lawmakers go back to work on health care Tuesday. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to consider whether the government should offer its own insurance plan for the middle class in competition with private carriers. A public option is the top goal for liberals, but it has no Republican support and moderate Democrats say the Senate will never go along (The Associated Press).

Public Option May Have New Life
The public option limped out of August, battered and left to die in the Senate. But its supporters are working hard this week to bring it back, against the odds, with a series of high-profile votes in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday (Politico).

Age And Higher Premiums Go Together: Is It Fair?
Old people get sick more than young people, and in most states that adds up to them paying a lot more for their health insurance premiums (The Associated Press).

Young Back Health Proposals Amid Potential Costs
Young adults remain some of the strongest supporters of a health-care overhaul, but many acknowledge they don't understand proposals that will likely saddle them with higher costs (The Wall Street Journal).

Republican Governors Blast Baucus Bill
A group of Republican governors are working together in a coordinated attack on Sen. Max Baucus's healthcare reform legislation (The Hill).

Baucus, Kyl Spar In Committee Drama
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus faces multiple challenges as he gavels in another week of work on health care Tuesday. High on the list: controlling the drama in the hearing room (Politico).

GOP Pins Comeback On Anger At 'Big Government' Healthcare
For Republicans, the way out of the wilderness in the 2010 midterm elections looks to be paved with healthcare votes. More than bank bailouts, stimulus spending, or illegal immigration – other hot-button issues for voters in middle America – the overhaul of the US healthcare system would affect every family. Increasingly, voters expect that the impact to be negative (The Christian Science Monitor).

Health Care Comparisons Help Show Best Practices, Prices
James Hendron's knees got so bad about two years ago he would break out in a sweat after climbing a flight of stairs. When he took a walk, his family would have to stop and wait for him to catch up (USA Today).

Illinois Nursing Homes Mix Felons, Seniors
More than any other state, Illinois relies heavily on nursing homes to house mentally ill patients, including those who have committed crimes. But a Tribune investigation found that government, law enforcement and the industry have failed to adequately manage the resulting influx of younger residents who shuttle into nursing facilities from jail cells, shelters and psychiatric wards (The Chicago Tribune).

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