KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: March 19, 2010

The headlines reflect yesterday's flurry of activity as House Democratic Leaders unveiled their $940 billion health-care compromise bill and steamed toward a Sunday vote. All the while, Republican leaders plotted was to stall this progress and nullify the measure.

Nine Major Changes In The Democrats' New Health Reform Bill
Kaiser Health News staff writers Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey write: "In their attempt to pass a sweeping health care overhaul this weekend, House Democrats are pushing a package of legislative fixes to lure undecided or opposed members of their party to the "yes" category" (Kaiser Health News).

'Cadillac' Insurance Plans Explained
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold, in collaboration with NPR, provides an update to explain the latest on how these high-cost insurance plans are treated in the latest health reform package. She writes: "The Democrats final health bill negotiated by the House, Senate and White House and released today contains a scaled-back tax on high-cost insurance policies" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: The Changing Status Quo On Federal Abortion Funding
In this Kaiser Health News Column, Jessica Arons writes: "In an attempt to keep health reform from being torpedoed by the ever-contentious topic of abortion, advocates and opponents of abortion rights were expected to agree that legislation would preserve the "status quo" on abortion law and not be used to advance or restrict abortion rights. Unfortunately, fights erupted over different definitions of the status quo and how to apply it to a reformed health insurance system, and the health care debate quickly became embroiled in abortion politics anyway" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: ObamaCare, Abortion And The Reagan Democrats
In this Kaiser Health News Column, Chuck Donovan writes: "How will the national drama over President Barack Obama's health care reform conclude? The views of a number of Midwest House Democrats on the issue of abortion may be the deciding factor" ( Kaiser Health News).

House Leaders Announce $940 Billion Health-Care Compromise Bill
Pushing toward a Sunday vote that could transform the nation's health-insurance system, House leaders announced a $940 billion compromise Thursday that would extend coverage to the vast majority of Americans, cut billions of dollars from Medicare, and impose new taxes on the wealthy and the well-insured (The Washington Post).

Health Showdown Is Set
Democrats made a final sprint toward a weekend vote on their health-care bill, pressuring wavering lawmakers as the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of the legislation at what party leaders see as a politically palatable $940 billion over the next decade (The Wall Street Journal).

Democrats Steam Toward Sunday Vote
The Democrats' yearlong health reform push picked up unmistakable momentum Thursday as the votes began to fall into place for a history-making roll call Sunday that could achieve the party's decades long goal of expanding health care (Politico).

Political Memo: In Health Vote, Democrats Weight Success Vs. Survival
In the homestretch of the health care debate, one obvious question being asked across the capital is whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi will find 216 votes to pass the bill. For a group of particularly jittery Democrats, the better question may be this: Who will be allowed to slip away (The New York Times)?

Obama To Dems: Our Fates Are Tied To Health Bill
In seeking enough votes to overhaul the nation's health care system, President Barack Obama is telling nervous Democratic lawmakers that their political fates are linked to the bill's passage, discouraging the notion that they can save themselves by opposing it, House members say (The Associated Press).

Fine-Tuning Led To Health Bill's $940 Billion Price Tag
Love it or hate it, one thing that is indisputable about the Democrats' big health care legislation is that the cost figures are going to come out right where President Obama said he wanted them (The New York Times).

Analysis: Congressional Budget Office's Sunny Forecast Carries Big Uncertainties
The latest estimate of what health-care reform would mean for the government's finances was such a hot document Thursday that at times the Congressional Budget Office's Web site couldn't handle the traffic (The Washington Post).

Numbers Behind Healthcare Bill Cheer Democrats, Clear Way For Vote
Healthcare overhaul will cut the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years, top Democrats said on Thursday as they unveiled a preliminary Congressional Budget Office scoring that clears the way for a House vote as soon as Sunday (Los Angeles Times).

Democrats Say Health Bill Will Pay For Itself In The Long Run
House Democrats initiated a 72-hour countdown Thursday on their yearlong effort to overhaul the health care system, unveiling a nearly final version of the legislation that promptly won additional support with a promise that the bill would more than pay for itself over the next decade (The New York Times).

With Health Bill Unveiled, House Digs For Votes
Propelled by a strong deficit-reduction estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, House Democrats are pressing ahead toward a showdown vote this weekend on what they hope will be the final version of a health overhaul package (NPR).

Wavering Lawmakers Walking Highwire
Rep. Brad Ellsworth is one of about a dozen undecided Democrats who hold the fate of the Obama administration health-care bill in their hands. The pressure on those undecided is intense-from House leaders to outside pressure groups to President Barack Obama himself-and Mr. Ellsworth is in an especially difficult spot (The Wall Street Journal).

Politico's Guide To The Undecideds
While the varying whip counts remain inexact and the outcome unknown, one thing is certain as the health care reform drama hurtles toward its conclusion: The last two dozen or so votes for the bill will come at considerable cost to the undecided House members who cast them (Politico).

Health Plan Personal For Some House Members
"I feel like I've been pregnant for 17 months. I want it over," said Anna Eshoo. "We love our history once it's made. We don't necessarily see ourselves in it" (Politico).

Senators Getting Ready To Take The Baton
Senators are looking ahead to a battle next week over budget rules in the expectation that healthcare reform will pass the House this weekend (The Hill).

GOP Plots Strategies To Nullify Health Bill
Republicans are looking beyond Sunday's expected vote on the Democrats' health-care overhaul to focus on strategies for striking back should it pass, ranging from challenges to the measure by individual states to a national repeal campaign (The Wall Street Journal).

Republicans Work Hard To Sway Dems
Wavering House Democrats shouldn't back President Obama's health care plan because a carefully crafted deal to get their support could fall apart in the Senate, Republicans warned Thursday (USA Today).

A Look At The Health Care Overhaul Bill
Congressional Democrats have released a final version of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul bill in advance of a House vote planned for Sunday. Some features of the legislation, which makes changes to the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve (The Associated Press).

Abortion Debate Revived Over Senate Language In Final Days Of Health Bill Fight
Congressional Republicans and Democrats renewed a long-simmering war of words over abortion rules in the current pending healthcare bill just days before a dramatic, weekend House vote (The Hill).

Cracks Appear In Abortion Front Against Healthcare Reform
A widening split among opponents of abortion could help pave the way to passage for President Obama's healthcare reform legislation (The Christian Science Monitor).

Public Hospitals In Miami Tackle Deficit With Pain
After warning two weeks ago that it would run out of money within weeks, Miami's public hospital group has cobbled together a stabilization plan that will keep most services intact through the end of September (The New York Times).

Arizona Drops Children's Health Program
Arizona on Thursday became the first state to eliminate its Children's Health Insurance Program when Gov. Jan Brewer signed an austere budget that will leave nearly 47,000 low-income children without coverage (The New York Times).

UC Could Oversee Prison Health
The Schwarzenegger administration wants to put the University of California in charge of state prison inmates' medical needs in an overhaul of the troubled corrections healthcare system that could save $12 billion over a decade, officials say (Los Angeles Times).

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