KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 28, 2010

Today's headlines reflect coverage of the new debt commission's attention to entitlements -- including Medicare, as well as the latest developments related to insurers' use of an industry practice known as rescissions.

Federal Employee Health Program Unlikely To Extend Young Adult Coverage On Parents' Plan This Year
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jessica Marcy reports: "Many parents breathed a sigh of relief when they heard that health insurance companies were opening up coverage to young adult children. But many people – including those who work for the federal government – probably won't be able to get that coverage until next year" (Kaiser Health News).

Small Business Owners have Mixed Reviews On Health Law's Tax Credits
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas reports: "Everyone wants a tax credit, right? Maybe not. Employers, particularly small businesses, are fretting over provisions in the health overhaul they say could burden their companies. They are the same provisions Democrats point to as a plus: tax credits to help small businesses offer health insurance coverage to their employees (Kaiser Health News).

Obama Tells Debt Commission 'Everything Has To Be On The Table'
President Obama told his bipartisan debt commission on Tuesday that "everything has to be on the table," while the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, suggested overhauling the nation's tax code to raise more revenue (The New York Times).

As Deficit Commission Meets, Obama Doesn't Rule Out New Taxes
President Obama said Tuesday that "everything has to be on the table" for a new commission examining the federal deficit, a position that raises the possibility that he could revisit the most expensive provisions of his new health-care law or backtrack on his pledge not to raise taxes for the middle class (The Washington Post).

WellPoint And Blue Shield Of Calif. To Stop Dropping Sick Policyholders
Stung by criticism and facing tougher federal regulation, two of the nation's largest health insurers say they will stop the practice of dropping sick policyholders (Los Angeles Times).

WellPoint To Cancel Coverage Only In Fraud Cases
Health insurer WellPoint Inc. said Tuesday it will start complying ahead of schedule with a health care reform provision that limits cases in which insurers can cancel coverage when a customer gets sick (The Associated Press).

House Dems Seek Patient Protection
House Democrats on Tuesday asked health insurers to immediately stop canceling plans because a patient gets sick, a provision of the federal health overhaul that doesn't take effect until September (Politico).

Regulator Gives Insurers Good News
A first look at how a key provision in the federal health overhaul could be implemented suggests that insurers' profits won't take the hit that the industry had feared (The Wall Street Journal).

Farm Workers Unsure How Health Law Helps Them
Some 70 percent of agricultural workers in California are uninsured. The new health care law will benefit many of those workers through an expanded Medi-Cal program and government subsidies to buy private health insurance. But how will new mandates affect farmers and farm workers - especially those who are undocumented and are barred from buying health coverage through the exchange? (NPR).

For-Profit Saint Vincent Hospital May Offer Peek At Caritas Future
Saint Vincent is not run by the church. Its corporate owner, Vanguard Health Systems of Nashville, has made a fortune converting nonprofit hospitals to for-profits, and it has committed to maintaining Saint Vincent's religious identity - much as Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm, has pledged to do if it acquires Boston's Catholic hospital network, Caritas Christi Health Care (The Boston Globe).

Fight Grows Over Shift Of Seniors' Health Plan
Legislation that could push more than 100,000 low-income senior citizens in Massachusetts into managed care health plans spurred intense lobbying yesterday, as consumer advocates argued the measure would strip patients of their freedom to stay in traditional Medicare, while proponents said it could save the state significant money (The Boston Globe).

Strict Oklahoma Abortion Measures Become Law
The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of two anti-abortion laws that are considered some of the strictest in the country (NPR).

Oklahoma Passes Two Laws Intended To Curb Abortions
Oklahoma's legislature on Tuesday overrode the governor's veto to pass two laws aimed at curbing abortions, at a time when several other abortion-related measures are moving forward at the state level (The Wall Street Journal).

Need For Dental Care Overwhelms Free Clinic In Los Angeles
Overwhelmed by demand for dental services, organizers of a massive free mobile health clinic asked some patients who had Tuesday appointments to return next week, a hitch in an otherwise smooth first day at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles Times).

For $520 Million, AstraZeneca Settles Case Over Marketing Of A Drug
AstraZeneca has completed a deal to pay $520 million to settle federal investigations into marketing practices for its blockbuster schizophrenia drug, Seroquel, the Attorney General, Eric Holder, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon (The New York Times).

Judge Rejects Plea Deal On Guidant Heart Device
A federal judge in Minnesota on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement between the federal government and the Guidant Corporation, saying that the deal did not hold the company sufficiently accountable for an episode in which it sold potentially flawed heart defibrillators (The New York Times).

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