KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: June 3, 2011

In today's headlines, reports that House Democrats are pressing President Barack Obama not to cave on Medicare as budget talks continue.

Kaiser Health News: The Other Health Care Lawsuit: California Medicaid Case Headed To Supreme Court
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Marilyn Chase writes: "Memorial, a 278-bed hospital in this city 55 miles north of San Francisco, sued California to try to stop the payment reductions. Now it is part of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could redefine states' responsibilities on Medicaid services and ultimately determine whether Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown can go forward with cuts he says are vital to closing the state's budget gap. The court is likely to hear arguments in the fall and render a decision by next spring" (Chase, 6/2).

Kaiser Health News: New Health IT 'Czar' Touts  Progress On Electronic Medical Records – The KHN Interview
Kaiser Health News staff writer Bara Vaida reports: "Helping ensure that adoption is the job of Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the new head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Mostashari, who has been at the agency since 2009 as the deputy national coordinator, replaced Dr. David Blumenthal, the first head of the office who left in April to return to teaching at Harvard University" (Vaida, 6/2).

The Washington Post: All 3 Parties In Va. Suit Over US Health Care Law Agree Appeals Court Has Jurisdiction
A federal statute that generally bars lawsuits challenging taxes before they are paid does not prohibit a federal appeals court from deciding two Virginia suits seeking to dismantle the Obama administration's health care overhaul, attorneys for all parties in the cases say. The Justice Department, the Virginia attorney general's office and Liberty University took the same position in supplemental briefs filed this week with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond (6/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Initiative Draws Fire
Hospitals and doctors are pushing back against an Obama administration initiative that urges them to create new organizations to coordinate the care of groups of Medicare patients. The voluntary program seeks to save money and improve treatment. But the health-care providers say the rules proposed for the initiative are too onerous and the financial incentives too weak, and that they will participate only if the program gets a major revamp (Wilde Mathews, 6/3).

Los Angeles Times: House Democrats To Obama: Don't Cave On Medicare
House Democrats pressed President Obama on Thursday not to cave in budget talks with Republicans, especially by yielding on cuts to Medicare. Maintaining the Medicare program for seniors was a major component of the conversation, and several Democratic leaders urged the president to stand firmly against cuts (Mascaro, 6/2).

Politico: Democrats Press Barack Obama On Medicare
House Democrats pressed President Barack Obama on Thursday to keep his word and stand firm on Medicare as negotiations with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling heat up. Multiple Democrats said entitlement programs were a key topic during their meeting with the president at the White House on Thursday afternoon. They also said that taxes were "on the table" in the debt negotiations (Phillip, 6/2).

Los Angeles Times: Romney To Obama: You Should Have Called Me On Health Reform
Speaking with Sean Hannity for an interview to air Thursday night, the former Massachusetts governor repeats his pledge to repeal the national healthcare reform law that President Obama signed, even though it is modeled after one he signed in the Bay State. … In that hypothetical exchange, Romney said he would go on to ask, "Why didn't you call me? Why didn't you ask me whether the Massachusetts plan was working or not? What parts didn't work? What things you shouldn't do? Because I know this: Obamacare would bankrupt the nation" (Memoli, 6/2).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Giuliani Slams Romney's Massachusetts Health Care Law
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in town to weigh his presidential prospects, slammed the health care plan Mitt Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts. The plan, he said, is "almost exactly the same" as the nationwide health care overhaul signed by President Barack Obama (Yadron, 6/2).

The Associated Press: Wis. Lawmakers Target Police, Firefighter Benefits
The Legislature's budget committee voted early Friday morning to require newly hired police and firefighters to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits (Bauer, 6/3).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Special-Session Time, But to Whose Advantage?
What's left are the things they couldn't work out, along with a few things that got caught in the deadlines: A school finance plan. An insurance fight pitting tort reformers against trial lawyers. Congressional redistricting. A bog of health issues that includes Medicaid managed care, health insurance exchanges, outcome-based care. A ban on sanctuary cities (Ramsey, 6/2).

Politico: Poll: Public Tired Of Abortion Debate
Americans are growing tired of the abortion debate and want to move on to a broader discussion about reproductive health, a new survey by a Democratic polling firm finds. The poll, conducted by Lake Partners, found that Americans feel Congress has focused too much on abortion and not enough on things like preventive care, reproductive health and expanding access to birth control (Nocera, 6/2).

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