KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: September 30, 2009

A look at today's headlines offers evidence that just about everyone is talking about yesterday's Senate Finance Committee blow to the public option and if -- and how -- the concept will survive.

Senate Overhaul Plan Offers Employees Penalties, Rewards
Earl Stewart, who owns a Toyota dealership in Florida, and Kevin Galvin, who owns a maintenance business in Connecticut, have something in common: Both say they can't afford health insurance for their employees (Kaiser Health News).

Poll: Public Says Voice Not Heard In Health Debate
Perhaps no other issue Congress deals with touches every American as intimately as health care. Yet a new poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that, so far, the public feels profoundly shut out of the current health overhaul debate (NPR).

Prospects For Public Option Dim In Senate
A key Senate panel twice beat back efforts Tuesday to create a government-run insurance plan, dealing a crippling blow to the hopes of liberals seeking to expand the federal role in health coverage as a cornerstone of reform (The Washington Post).

Senators Reject Pair Of Public Option Proposals
After an intense debate that captured the essence of the national struggle over health care, a pivotal Senate committee on Tuesday rejected two Democratic proposals to create a government insurance plan to compete with private insurers (The New York Times).

Key Senate Panel Votes Down 'Public Option' For Healthcare
Underscoring the divisions within their party, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday split over a key issue in the healthcare debate as centrists teamed with Republicans to reject creation of a "public option" for medical insurance (Los Angeles Times).

Public Plan Goes Down In Senate Health Vote
A bipartisan Senate vote swept aside demands by liberal Democrats for a government-run health insurance plan, delivering a potentially lethal blow to the most controversial measure of the proposed U.S. health-care overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

Public Option Fate In Obama's Hands
The Senate Finance Committee spent more than five hours debating the public health insurance option Tuesday before voting down two Democratic amendments to add it to the bill (Politico).

Senate Panel Defeats Public Healthcare Option. Is It Dead?
Two proposals for a public healthcare option went down to an expected defeat in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday. Yet the narrower-than-expected vote could amount to something of a victory for proponents of the public option (The Christian Science Monitor).

Senate Panel Rejects Public Insurer Option
A key Senate committee yesterday turned back attempts to include a public insurance option in its sweeping health care proposal, as a handful of moderate Democrats joined Republicans in arguing that a government plan would represent too much of an intrusion into the private sector (The Boston Globe).

More Thorny Challenges Ahead For Health Overhaul
A sweeping health overhaul bill has survived a major challenge from the left, but onslaughts loom from the right on thorny issues including abortion and insurance coverage for illegal immigrants (The Associated Press).

GAO Report: Millions In Fraud, Drug Abuse Clog Medicaid
As Congress debates the government's role in health care, a report out Wednesday finds that state and federal officials failed to detect millions of dollars in Medicaid prescription drug abuse (USA Today).

Medicare Data Could Cut Health Care Costs
Economists say one reason the health care system wastes so much money is a simple lack of information. It's nearly impossible to know which physicians are doing an efficient job, or which ones are ordering too many tests or the wrong tests. What's needed, economists say, is a huge database of information (NPR).

Economic Scene: How A Tax Can Cut Health Costs
Slowing the growth of medical spending should, in principle, be one of the more popular parts of health reform. Health care already costs the typical household about $15,000 a year, and these costs are growing far more quickly than incomes. Yet when it comes time to turn principle into policy, the same problem always crops up (The New York Times).

Work Begins On National E-Health Record Network
Doctor's offices and hospitals have slowly started the difficult switch from outmoded paper records to sophisticated electronic systems in a bid to improve care and cut costs (The Associated Press).

A Failure To Protect
Background checks designed to identify dangerous new residents of Illinois nursing homes often fall short by missing ex-convicts' violent crimes and downplaying the risks they pose to others, the Tribune has found (The Chicago Tribune).

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