KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: November 3, 2010

Today's headlines track the GOP's sweeping electoral gains and begin to explore what this power shift might mean for the future of the health law.

With Newly-Elected Governors, GOP Gains Clout To Fight Health Reform Law
Kaiser Health News staff writers Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey report: "The Democrats' ambitious health care overhaul is facing roadblocks from newly elected state officials who harshly criticized it while campaigning and who are now in a position to make good on their promises" (Kaiser Health News).

Text: The Republican 'Pledge' On Health Care
Kaiser Health News excerpted the section related to health care from this GOP plan, which was first released Sept. 23 (Kaiser Health News).

GOP Captures House, But Not Senate
A Republican resurgence, propelled by deep economic worries and a forceful opposition to the Democratic agenda of health care and government spending, delivered defeats to House Democrats from the Northeast to the South and across the Midwest. The tide swept aside dozens of lawmakers, regardless of their seniority or their voting records, upending the balance of power for the second half of Mr. Obama's term (The New York Times).

GOP Seizes House; Democrats Keep Senate
Even after Tuesday's ballots are counted, the results remain open to interpretation, according to many analysts. NPR's Mara Liasson sees it this way: If Republicans succeed, they must decide whether the results give them a true mandate for an agenda that might include tax cuts, smaller government and a repeal of the federal health care overhaul. Democrats can pin their difficulties on the bad economy and note the heavy spending attributed to conservative groups, Liasson says. Independents could be throwing up their hands and saying government's just not working, Liasson suggested (NPR).

Democratic Coalition Crumbles, Exit Polls Say
Driving the shift: broad anxiety over the economy, as well as skepticism of big government and opposition to signature Democratic Party policy achievements, such as President Barack Obama's economic-stimulus package and the health-care overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

House Becomes HQ For 'Hell No' Mood Toward Gov't
The midterm elections that returned House control to the GOP after four years was a rebuke to Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, their stewardship of the struggling economy, their overhaul of the nation's health care system, and more (The Associated Press).

Health Care 'Nos' Help Dems At Risk
Voting against the health care law may have saved a few moderate House Democrats who managed to survive an overwhelming Republican wave Tuesday night (Politico).

Tight Deadline For New Speaker To Deliver
In leading his party to midterm triumph, Representative John A. Boehner, the next speaker of the House, is not at the endgame. He is at the beginning of the next and harder fight. … Mr. Boehner and his party have also made it clear that they will immediately try to unravel the new health care law, either by repealing pieces of it, some of which have already gone into force, or by using the appropriations process to remove financing from its key provisions (The New York Times).

Arizona And Oklahoma Vote To Reject Insurance Mandate
Voters in Oklahoma and Arizona resoundingly supported ballot initiatives to opt-out of the federal health reform law, while Colorado voters appeared headed to rejecting a similar measure (Politico).

Legalize-Marijuana Measure Loses In California
Californians heeded warnings of legal chaos and other dangers and rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have made their state the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use (The Associated Press/Washington Post).

As Drug Costs Soar, Charity Offers Help With Covering Co-Pays
Edward Hensley was a well-to-do executive running a specialty pharmacy company in Orlando when he met a patient who would change his life. The patient had cancer in her bone marrow, and her doctor had just prescribed a drug that might keep the disease at bay for years. Even though the woman had insurance, the drug would cost her $4,000 every month out of pocket. … Though he was able to find the patient some financial aid, Hensley wanted to do more. He vowed that, if ever he had the means, he would start a nonprofit to help others in similar straits (Orlando Sentinel/The Washington Post).

$10-Billion Medicaid Plan Approved For California
The Obama administration on Tuesday approved a $10-billion plan to help California modernize and expand its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, pushing the state to the forefront of the national effort to implement the new healthcare law (Los Angeles Times).

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