First Edition: August 19, 2009
Today's news is punctuated by the White House's continuing efforts to clarify its message on the public plan. Meanwhile, Democrats struggle with the intraparty fallout.
Code Blue: Out-Of-Network Charges Can Spur Financial Emergency
The story of Gary Diego is an extreme example of what can happen in medical emergencies. Consumers who are careful to choose in-network doctors and hospitals for their routine medical care often cannot choose where or how they are treated in an emergency. In a practice known as balance billing, insurers pay a portion of the out-of-network charges, and the balance owed to hospitals and doctors is dumped on patients (Kaiser Health News).
Backers, Critics Battle Over Health Care Public Option
Liberal Democrats are making public their displeasure over the Obama administration's apparent willingness to abandon a public option for the nation's health care system (NPR).
Debate's Path Caught Obama By Surprise
President Obama's advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president's top legislative priority (The Washington Post).
White House Rethinks How It Sells Health Overhaul
President Barack Obama, trying to regain control of the health-care debate, will likely shift his pitch in September, White House and Democratic officials said, as he faces pressure from supporters to talk more about the moral imperative to provide health insurance to all Americans (The Wall Street Journal).
How Obama Can Get Out Of Healthcare Ditch
The White House has spent the past two days insisting that nothing has changed in its position on healthcare reform: President Obama still prefers to have a "public option" that is, a government-run health-insurance plan that would compete with private insurers in the package, despite indications that he's willing to give that up (Christian Science Monitor).
Tackling The Mystery Of How Much It Costs
You go to a restaurant, peruse the menu, take your waiter's suggestions, and order a meal. But there is something odd: the menu has no prices and you have no idea what you will be required to pay until a few weeks later when the bill arrives in the mail (The New York Times).
Analysis: Liberals Tired Of Health Care Compromise
Frustrated liberals have a question for President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers: Isn't it time the other guys gave a little ground on health care? What's the point of a bipartisan bill, they ask, if we're making all the concessions (The Associated Press).
Democrats Seem Set To Go It Alone On A Health Bill
Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority's cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks (The New York Times).
Baucus And The Debate On Health Care Go West
Senator Max Baucus can be hard to decipher at times, and not just because he talks fast and is prone to mumbling. He was trying to discuss health care in an interview, but kept having to compete with a loud TV set over his left shoulder in a hotel coffee shop - two Fox News anchors speaking about (what else) health care (The New York Times).
The Next Healthcare Battle: Cutting Medicare Advantage
President Obama, struggling to discredit bogus charges that his healthcare overhaul would create "death panels," soon could face another emotionally charged obstacle -- a plan to trim the federal subsidy for a program used by nearly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries (Los Angeles Times).
White House Blames 'Political Groups' For Distributing Unwanted Healthcare Emails
The White House is blaming "political groups" for distributing its e-mails about healthcare to people who complained that they never asked for any White House e-mail, while suggesting that its online healthcare "Reality Check" site has become quite popular (Los Angeles Times).
David Axelrod's Ties Targeted In Health Fight
Critics of President Obama's health-care overhaul are zeroing in on his senior adviser David Axelrod, whose former partners at a Chicago-based firm are the beneficiaries of huge ad buys-now at $24 million and counting-by White House allies in the reform fight (Politico).
PhARMA Defends Itself From Boehner Criticism
The prescription drug industry's lobbying arm is defending its deal with President Barack Obama in the wake of criticism from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who charged it with "appeasing" the Obama administration (The Hill).
Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via email. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' email options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.