KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Labor-HHS Bill Offers Teachable Moment Regarding Sequester Threat

Some public health organizations are using this legislation as an illustration of what the sequester's impact would be on health programs.

Politico Pro: Health Groups: Labor-HHS Cuts A 'Wake-Up Call'
Public health groups would love to rally their supporters to fight the sequester, but they have one problem -- no one understands it. So now they’re looking at a new strategy: Use the House Labor-HHS bill as an illustration of how life could look under the sequester (Dobias, 7/25).

Meanwhile, lawmakers scrutinize a Medicare Advantage demonstration program -- 

Modern Healthcare: Lawmakers Press CMS Official On Advantage Plan Bonus Pilot
The CMS official overseeing a controversial Medicare insurance pilot program told a congressional panel that he has seen anecdotal evidence that it is working. But that evidence is based "not on a scientific model." Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare at the CMS, testified Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about an $8.3 billion demonstration program -- by far the largest in the agency's history -- for Medicare Advantage insurance plans (Daly, 7/25).

Politico Pro: Issa: CMS Program Intended To 'Buy' Election
A House committee chairman accused the Obama administration Wednesday of seeking to "buy an election" by plowing billions of dollars into private Medicare plans at a time when seniors are bracing for steep cuts. According to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, an $8.3 billion CMS demonstration offering payments to private Medicare plans that improve performance is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to blunt the impact of Medicare cuts until after the vote (Cheney, 7/25).

In other news, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor offers her take on Chief Justice John Roberts' health care opinion during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing --

Los Angeles Times: Sandra Day O'Connor Defends John Roberts' Health Care Ruling
Attacks on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as a traitor to conservative ideals for voting to uphold most of President Obama's health care law reflect a lack of knowledge about how the American justice system works, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said. "It's unfortunate because I think comments like that demonstrate only too well a lack of understanding that some of our citizens have about the role of the judicial branch," O'Connor said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday in response to a question from Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt). Roberts' deciding vote provoked a backlash from conservatives, who had expected the appointee of Republican President George W. Bush to side with the conservatives on the court (Goldberg, 7/25).

The Associated Press: O'Connor Says Criticism Of Roberts 'Unfortunate'
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on Wednesday said attacks on Chief Justice John Roberts over his key vote to uphold President Barack Obama's health care overhaul are "unfortunate." She also said that Obama's comments while the court was still considering the health care law -- that overturning it would be unprecedented and extraordinary -- were "not ideal" (Sherman, 7/25).

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