KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: March 4, 2011

In today's headlines, a Florida federal judge stays his own order regarding the health law, clearing the way for it's implementation -- for now -- but also making clear that the appeals process should move forward at an expedited rate.

Kaiser Health News: GOP House Budget Chairman Ryan Pushes Medicare Vouchers
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan vowed Thursday to include aggressive reforms of Medicare in the budget proposal he is beginning to craft. Ryan reiterated his controversial idea to issue vouchers to beneficiaries" (Serafini, 3/3).

Kaiser Health News: Sebelius, GOP Tussle At House Hearing
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Aimee Miles writes: "President Obama's top health official stuck to familiar talking points in a congressional hearing Thursday, defending the president's agenda from attacks by a GOP-led House subcommittee that focused on the administration's budget request and implementation of the health care law" (Miles, 3/3).

The Washington Post: Judge Clears Way For Implementation Of Health-Law In States That Are Challenging It
A federal judge in Florida who earlier ruled the new health-care law unconstitutional said Thursday that implementation can proceed in the 26 states that mounted the legal challenge while the Obama administration pursues an appeal (Aizenman, 3/3).

The New York Times: Judge Stays Own Ruling Against Health Care Law
A federal judge in Florida stayed his own ruling against the Obama health care law on Thursday, allowing the act to be carried out as the case progresses through the Courts of Appeal and on to the Supreme Court (Sack, 3/3).

Los Angeles Times: Ruling Won't Stand In Way Of Healthcare Reform Implementation
Handing the Obama administration a legal victory, the federal judge in Florida who ruled the new healthcare law unconstitutional has cleared the way for continued implementation of the sweeping overhaul (Levey, 3/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Overhaul Is Given Reprieve
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson in Florida granted a stay to his January ruling, agreeing with the Obama administration that it would be "extremely disruptive" to block implementation of the law while appellate courts weigh its constitutionality. However, Judge Vinson used the occasion to criticize the Obama administration (Kendall, 3/4).

Politico: Judge Roger Vinson Issues Stay Of Own Ruling
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson put the health care reform law on a fast track to the Supreme Court on Thursday - giving the Obama administration just seven days to file an appeal and signaling to fellow jurists that the time for a decision is now. Vinson called his order a stay, but the real message was clear: Hurry up (Haberkorn, 3/3).

The Associated Press: Senate Republicans Push To Oust Medicare Chief
Unable to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, Republicans are trying to oust the official who is quarterbacking the overhaul of the nation's medical system. In a letter released Thursday, 42 Republican senators asked the president to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick as Medicare administrator, saying his experience isn't broad enough and past statements raise fundamental questions about his views on policy (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/3).

The New York Times: House Votes To Help Small Businesses Comply With Health Bill, But Relief Is Held Up
The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to repeal burdensome tax-reporting requirements that were imposed on small businesses to help pay for the expansion of health insurance coverage under the new health care law. The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to repeal burdensome tax-reporting requirements that were imposed on small businesses to help pay for the expansion of health insurance coverage under the new health care law (Pear, 3/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Takes Trim In House Vote
The House voted to repeal an unpopular tax-reporting requirement affecting small-business owners, in what would be the first substantial change to last year's health law. … It requires smaller business owners to report more business transactions to the Internal Revenue Service, with the goal of curtailing tax evasion and raising government revenue. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the provision would raise about $18 billion over a decade. … However, the two chambers of Congress differ over how to fill the $18 billion gap that would be created by the 1099 repeal. The Senate measure simply instructed the White House budget office to find the savings in unspent federal money. The House measure seeks to claw back subsidies given to lower- and middle-income people to buy insurance if those people see their income grow beyond a certain threshold (Boles, 3/3).

The Washington Post: House Votes To Repeal '1099' Tax-Reporting Requirement In Health-Care Law
The House on Thursday approved a measure that would repeal the unpopular '1099' tax-reporting requirement for small businesses included in the national health-care law. … Both Democrats and Republicans, as well as the White House, support repealing the provision, which requires businesses to report to the Internal Revenue Service all purchases of $600 or more. But there remain deep partisan divisions over how to pay for 1099 repeal, which would result in an estimated $22 billion loss in revenue over the next decade (Sonmez, 3/3).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Aims To Tame Benefits Programs
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he's determined to offer a budget this spring that curbs Social Security and Medicare, despite the political risks, and that Republicans will try to persuade voters that sacrifices are needed (Bendavid and Hook, 3/4).

Los Angeles Times: Taking A Scalpel To The Healthcare System
Social Security now doles out more money in benefit checks than it takes in from taxes, and its trust fund is projected to run out of cash in about 26 years. So this is a good model for healthcare reform? Yes, indeed, says Philip Bredesen, a former health insurance executive who just completed two terms as Tennessee's governor (Lazarus, 3/3).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Four Pinocchios For The American Public On The Budget
Yet another depressing survey was released this week that attests to the failure of most Americans to understand the basics of the federal budget -- and why there is a soaring budget deficit. Respected Republican pollsters Ed Goeas and Nicholas Thompson reported that 63 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government spends more on defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security (Kessler, 3/3).

The New York Times: Pharmacists Fight The Rise Of Mail Order
A fierce battle is being waged between retail pharmacists and mail-order companies over where people should be able to fill their long-term prescriptions (Abelson and Singer, 3/3).

The New York Times: Immigrant's Health Crisis Leaves Her Family On Sideline
Decision-making on behalf of patients in persistent vegetative states is always a delicate matter, especially if, like Ms. Nyirahabiyambere, they have not left a directive. Her case, which has received no public attention, underscores the thorny issues that arise when a severely brain-damaged person's life is sustained by medical technology. With thousands in persistent vegetative states, the issues regularly surface in hospitals and courtrooms - what constitutes "futile care," what power should doctors or lawyers have to stop treatment and what role should financial considerations play. In Ms. Nyirahabiyambere's case, her immigration status adds another layer of complexity (Sontag, 3/3).

The Wall Street Journal: A Windfall For HCA Investors
Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Bank of America Corp. and the brother of former Senate Majority Leader William Frist are each in line to make nearly $3 billion from $1.2 billion investments in the 2006 leveraged buyout of hospital chain HCA Holdings Inc. The gain-about 250% over five years that were trying for the economy and health-care companies-would amount to one of the largest ever from a private-equity deal (Zuckerman, 3/4).

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