KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: November 29, 2010

Today's headlines include advance coverage of Congress' lame duck session, as well as news about strategies surrounding deficit-reduction efforts and how they might impact health care costs.

KHN Column: Replace The Tattered Medicaid Long-Term Care Safety Net
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Howard Gleckman writes: "Medicaid, the state-federal health program that also pays for nearly half of all long-term care services for the frail elderly and younger people with disabilities, is in big trouble" (Kaiser Health News).

Debt-Panel Chairmen Work To Gain Support
Earlier this month, Messrs. Bowles and Simpson proposed a series of changes to U.S. spending and tax policy that would hold down the growth of the federal debt by roughly $3.8 trillion by 2020. They included changes to Medicare, Social Security, defense spending and other areas (The Wall Street Journal).

Alarm Over U.S. Debt Creates 'Window' For Tough Choices
If Americans aren't prepared for the hard choices needed to control the national debt, most voters here must have missed the memo. The local Republican congressman, Paul Ryan, campaigned for re-election by calling for reductions in the growth of Medicare and Social Security. He won with 68% of the vote (USA Today).

Reinhardt: Repeal Health Care, Make GOP Cut Costs
Go ahead. Repeal health care reform. That's what President Obama should tell Congressional Republicans, according to Princeton economist and health care expert Uwe E. Reinhardt. His logic: That way the GOP would have to come up with its own solutions to the health care cost crisis, many of which, he wagers, would look much like parts of the current law. "I think it would be a healthy thing," he says (The Fiscal Times).

Tax Break For Employer Health Plans A Target Again
Job-based health care benefits could wind up on the chopping block if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans get serious about cutting the deficit (The Associated Press).

Embracing Incentives For Efficient Care
Spurred by incentives in the federal health-overhaul law, hospitals and doctors around the country are beginning to create new entities that aim to provide more efficient health care. But these efforts are already raising questions about whether they can truly save money, or if they might actually drive costs higher (The Wall Street Journal).

Practical Matters: Time To Evaluate Medicare Advantage Plans
Happy or not, Medicare Advantage enrollees should make a habit of evaluating their options each year. Though experts say that beneficiaries won't be seeing a lot of changes this time - and what changes there are will mostly be for the better - it is a good idea for people to go through this annual drill before enrollment ends Dec. 31, just to make sure their plan choice remains a good one (Los Angeles Times).

Barack Obama To Barbara Walters: 'Extraordinarily Proud' Of Health Care Reform
President Barack Obama, in a wide-ranging, reflective interview with Barbara Walters, staunchly defended his controversial policies - including sweeping health care reforms and the massive economic stimulus package - as bold but necessary steps to help transform an economy that was at the brink of collapse into one that is "growing" (Politico).

Gates Seeking To Contain Military Health Costs
Of nearly 4.5 million military retirees and their families, about three-quarters are estimated to have access to health insurance through a civilian employer or group. But more than two million of them stay on Tricare. As the costs of private health care continue to climb, their numbers are only expected to grow (The New York Times).

Kaiser Health News also tracked health policy developments over the weekend, including coverage on Congress' lame duck session.

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