KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Costs, Partisan Battles Move Center-Stage In Health Care Debate

As health reform progresses in Congress, President Obama may have to wade into a partisan debate of the most divisive issues, including Medicaid expansion, illegal immigration and abortion.

"The left-vs.-right battles that dominate American politics - and that President Barack Obama has sought desperately to avoid - are about to move center stage in the health care debate," Politico reports. Those divides include "whether lawsuits against doctors should be capped, how much care to provide the poor, whether to pay for abortions and whether people who came here illegally should be covered." The emergence of these divisions isn't a good sign for the Obama administration, which "has been eager to avoid the politics of the past and already has had enough trouble selling the idea of reform in broad strokes." The Senate Finance Committee has already been grappling over the hot button issues. "Obama himself might also have to wade into the debate once the inevitable deadlocks emerge" among the rank and file (O'Connor and Brown, 9/14).

ABC News: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, says Obama's pledge not to add to the federal deficit is not a promise he can keep. "I think the fundamental problem is that if you cover everybody, you put everyone in a system that is growing too rapidly in costs, and is added onto an entitlement problem where we already don't have the revenues to pay for it. … And so you build a big problem up front." He recommends being "more patient and sequential" and covering "targeted groups like working uninsured." As savings are realized, they can then be channeled "back in" to "cover more people," Holtz-Eakin said in an interview (Klein, 9/14).

Roll Call: "With his poll numbers - and those of his health care initiative - declining, President Barack Obama is planning several public appearances in the coming days to tout his work on the economy and sell his health care reform agenda." On Tuesday, Obama will appear before AFL-CIO workers in Pittsburgh "for remarks that will touch on health care but focus mainly on the economy." On Thursday, the president "will hold a health reform rally - open to the general public - in College Park, Md. Obama also plans to appear on 'Meet the Press,' 'Face the Nation' and 'This Week' as well as CNN and Univision on Sunday to talk about health care" (Koffler, 9/14).

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