KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: June 15, 2011

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including a report that GOP governors are pushing back against federal Medicaid rules.

Kaiser Health News: Doctors Balk At Proposal To Cut Medicare's Use Of Imaging
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Marilyn Werber Serafini report: "Even before its official release, a new proposal to curb the overuse of costly MRIs and other advanced imaging in Medicare is sparking a furor among physician and patient groups. The battle shows how hard it is to make even small changes in the sprawling program for the elderly – much less overhaul it" (Carey and Serafini, 6/14).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: GOP Presidential Candidates Debate Health Law, Medicare
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey is joined by Politico Pro's David Nather to discuss Monday's GOP presidential debate that featured the candidates talking Medicare reforms proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and repeal of Obama's health law (6/14).

The Associated Press: Biden 'Confident' Budget Talks With Lawmakers Will Produce 'Well Beyond' $1 T In Deficit Cuts
Even as Vice President Joe Biden gave his most optimistic assessment yet of budget talks he's leading, President Barack Obama's Democratic allies in the Senate signaled Tuesday a harder line on Medicare. That stance is complicating any effort to produce a deal to cut the deficit by $2 trillion or more over the coming decade or so (Taylor, 6/15).

Politico: Biden Group Gets Down To Business On Budget Deficit
In this atmosphere, discretionary appropriations-covering the daily operations of agencies as well as defense and foreign aid- become a favorite target. This was the same battleground that preoccupied Congress for the first four months of this year, and while less than a third of the total government spending, this sector regularly accounts for a disproportionate share of most deficit reduction plans.  Even the much touted presidential debt commission last December, which added revenues and entitlement savings to the mix, still counted on discretionary spending for half of the deficit reduction achieved in its plan. And Biden now faces former Senate colleagues refusing to cut any Medicare benefits –as evidenced in the Democratic press conference Tuesday-and Republicans like Cantor and Boehner balking at any new tax revenues to close the gap (Rogers, 6/15).

The Washington Post: GOP Governors Push Back Against Obama On Federal Medicaid Rules
Faced with severe budget problems, Republican governors are escalating their fight against federal rules requiring states to maintain current levels of health-care coverage for the poor and disabled. The growing resistance to the federal government over the hugely expensive Medicaid program poses a critical test for President Obama, who has the power to relax the rules for states (Fletcher, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal: UK Leader Rolls Back Plans For Health-Care Overhaul
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday major revisions to his planned changes for the state-run health service after his original blueprint drew criticism from doctors and members of his own coalition government, who claimed it amounted to a partial privatization of the system (MacDonald, 6/15).

The New York Times: Cameron Revises Overhaul Plan For British Health Care
After enduring months of criticism over his bold proposal to drastically overhaul Britain's publicly financed National Health Service, Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday released a new, watered-down version of the plan designed to be more palatable to interest groups and to Parliament (Cameron, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Wisconsin Union Law To Take Effect
The Wisconsin Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for the state's contentious collective-bargaining law to take effect, ruling 4-3 that a lower-court judge who put the measure on hold improperly interfered with the legislature. The decision limits Wisconsin's public employees to bargaining over their wages. Raises will be limited to the inflation rate unless voters approve larger increases. The law also requires public employees to contribute 5.8% of their salaries to their pensions and pay at least 12.6% of their health-care premiums (Merrick, 6/15).

The Associated Press: Court Allows Wisconsin's Union Law To Take Effect
The Wisconsin Supreme Court handed Republican Gov. Scott Walker a major victory on Tuesday, ruling that a polarizing union law could take effect that strips most public employees of their collective bargaining rights. … The law, which also requires public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions, sparked weeks of protests when Walker introduced it in February (Bauer, 6/14).

The Washington Post: Allen Policy Blueprint Calls For Tax Cuts, Repeal Of Health-Care Plan
Allen's "Blueprint for America's Comeback" - a 12-page glossy brochure - mostly echoes mainstream Republican policy thinking. It includes calls for a cap on federal spending, increased oil drilling and the repeal of President Obama's health-care law (Pershing, 6/14).

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