KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: January 15, 2010

Today's headlines detail the deal between the White House, Democratic leaders and unions regarding the "Cadillac" tax. But reports also note that, although the finish line is in sight, sticking points remain in the negotiations surrounding the sweeping health overhaul.

Feds Vs. States: Who Should Run Proposed Health Insurance Marketplaces?
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey writes about a key regulatory question involved in health reform. "The fight over whether states or the federal government will have more clout in a proposed health insurance marketplace is escalating – and the outcome has big implications for consumers" (Kaiser Health News).

Obama, Lawmakers Make Progress On Health Bill
A push to overhaul the nation's health care system has cleared another hurdle. Leaders of organized labor says they'll go along with a plan to tax so-called "Cadillac" health care policies, after winning concessions designed to shield middle-class families. President Obama spoke to House Democrats yesterday at their annual two-day retreat, where health care and crating jobs are sure to be much talked about (NPR).

White House Nears Deal On Health Care
Gripped by a building sense that its window of opportunity could be closing, the White House on Thursday broke the last major logjam blocking enactment of far-reaching health-care legislation, cutting a deal with organized labor on how to tax high-cost insurance policies (The Washington Post).

Accord Reached On Insurance Tax For Costly Plans
The White House, Congressional leaders and labor unions said Thursday that they had reached agreement on a proposal to tax high-cost health insurance policies, resolving one of the major differences between the House and the Senate over far-reaching health legislation (The New York Times).

Unions Agree To Compromise On 'Cadillac Tax' For Healthcare
The White House and labor leaders agreed Thursday on a formula to tax high-cost insurance plans, removing one of the last obstacles to President Obama's healthcare overhaul, officials said (Los Angeles Times).

Unions Cut Special Deal On Health Taxes
Democratic negotiators acceded to union demands for a scaled-back tax on high-end health-insurance plans, exempting union contracts from the tax until 2018, five years beyond the start date for other workers (The Wall Street Journal).

White House Scores Key Labor Deal
The White House on Thursday cut a deal with its closest labor allies to blunt the impact of a new tax on high-cost insurance policies - and blunt their protests against the health reform plan (Politico).

White House, Dem Leaders Give Concessions To Win Labor's Support
The White House and Democratic senators negotiating a final healthcare bill gave ground Thursday to labor leaders to secure their support for a tax on high-cost health plans (The Hill).

Democrats See Progress On Health Care Compromise
President Obama agreed Thursday to soften a proposed tax on high-cost insurance plans, but work continues on several remaining sticking points in the health care legislation - including the thorny issue of abortion (USA Today).

Obama Pledges Campaign For Health-Care Bill And Democrats
With unemployment hovering in the double digits and House Democrats eager to move on to the politically crucial task of job creation, President Obama pledged Thursday to publicly champion the health-care legislation that in the past year has consumed much of their attention and often made them targets (The Washington Post).

Health Talks In Overdrive With Obama Pushing
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats stand within days if not hours of striking final deals on historic health care legislation after key labor unions won concessions and pledged their support (The Associated Press).

Democrats See Healthcare Finish Line In Sight After Negotiations
President Barack Obama and House Democrats claimed significant progress Thursday as momentum appeared to increase for swift final action on healthcare reform (The Hill).

For Dems, Waiting Is The Hardest Part
Democrats moved closer to a final deal on health care reform Thursday - and for some vulnerable members, the end can't come soon enough (Politico).

Last-Ditch Lobbying Battle Over Biotech Drugs
Makers of generic biotech drugs, backed by the White House and a well-placed congressional ally, are waging an eleventh-hour battle to reduce the competitive protection that the emerging health overhaul bill would give to brand-name producers of the expensive pharmaceuticals (The Associated Press).

Democrats Seek Added $10 Billion From Drug Firms
Congressional Democrats finalizing a health overhaul have asked drug companies to contribute an additional $10 billion and possibly more over a decade to help cover the cost, according to people familiar with the discussions (The Wall Street Journal).

GOP Govs Worry Health 'Deals' Made
Twenty Republican governors and governors-elect are accusing the White House of providing too little transparency on health care, causing worry that "deals" are being cut without their input (Politico).

Brown's Run May Be Model For GOP
National GOP strategists say that the unexpected tightening in the Massachusetts Senate race has demonstrated the potency of the electorate's antipathy for the Democratic health care legislation, and that Republican Scott Brown's campaign could become a template for Republican challengers across the country in this year's midterm elections. "He's making health care a front-and-center issue in the most liberal state in the country, and it's working for him,'' said Whit Ayres, who cofounded Resurgent Republic, a group of conservative pollsters and strategists formed to shape the national debate (The Boston Globe).

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