KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: January 25, 2010

Today's news begins to set the scene for the President's upcoming State of the Union address, and provides continuing coverage of Democrats' efforts to regroup on health reform. 

KHN Column: The Bipartisan Trap -- And How Democrats Fell Into It
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes about the current political climate surrounding health reform. "If Democrats hadn't been so determined to reach out to Republicans--and worked so hard for an agreement that didn't seem overly partisan--they wouldn't have made the Nebraska bargain, or many others, in the first place" (Kaiser Health News).

Obama To Reintroduce Himself During State Of The Union
The prime-time speech, which will be aired on all major TV networks and cable news channels, could hardly come at a more critical time for a president grappling with double-digit unemployment, sinking poll numbers and the possible collapse of his top domestic policy priority, an overhaul of the nation's health care system (USA Today).

Economy, Health Bill On Obama's Mind For State Of The Union
Administration officials said yesterday that President Obama would emphasize economic issues in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday but that he would also continue pressing Congress to complete its yearlong effort to enact health care legislation (The Boston Globe).

Narrower Targets Set For Health Overhaul
The White House, with its health-care initiative in doubt, on Sunday zeroed in on several elements it hoped would survive, including measures to extend the life of Medicare, lower prescription drug costs for seniors and cap consumers' out-of-pocket medical expenses (The Wall Street Journal).

White House Defends Healthcare Legislation Despite Senate Loss
The Obama administration tried Sunday to steady itself and its top domestic priority after last week's stunning Massachusetts Senate upset, as a top White House official vowed to move ahead with comprehensive healthcare legislation because "the underlying elements of it are popular and important" (Los Angeles Times).

Five Key Health Reform Questions
President Barack Obama's push for sweeping health care reform hangs in the balance when Congress returns this week, after being thrown into doubt by Republican Scott Brown's special election win in Massachusetts (Politico).

McCain Nudges Obama Toward His Party's Health Plan
In the wake of a political setback for national health care legislation, Senator John McCain, the losing candidate in the last presidential election, advised his victorious 2008 adversary on Sunday that the way to get meaningful changes passed is to "start from the beginning" by meeting with Republicans (The New York Times).

Ten Reasons Health Reform Stalled
President Barack Obama's hope for healthcare reform is in peril, and it's not all because of Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts (The Hill).

Health Insurers Spent Big Bucks On Lobbying Over The Past Year
America's largest insurance companies spent millions more on lobbying last year as lawmakers debated healthcare reform, lobbying disclosure records show (The Hill).

Insurer Steps Up Fight To Control Health Care Cost
A front in the national health care battle has opened in New York City, where a major hospital chain and one of the nation's largest insurance companies are locked in a struggle over control of treatment and costs that could have broad ramifications for millions of people with private health insurance (The New York Times).

California Draws State Line At Health Care Insurance
As Congress works out differences in the House and Senate health care bills, one particular proposal is drawing fire from the California delegation. The bills would allow insurers to sell some policies across state lines for the first time, and critics contend that could weaken consumer protection laws in states like California that aggressively regulate the insurance industry (NPR).

Independent Group To Look At Ways To Reduce Debt
Their goal is to, by December, give Congress and Mr. Obama a multiyear plan to raise tax revenues and pare spending, especially for the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which are the biggest factors driving the projections of future high deficits, Mr. Domenici and Ms. Rivlin said in a joint interview (The New York Times).

A Remedy For Mississippi's Health Blues
Dr. Aaron Shirley has devoted his career to serving the rural poor in the Mississippi Delta, but now the 77-year-old pediatrician believes the key to reducing the nation's highest infant mortality rates lies in a surprising place: the Islamic Republic of Iran (Los Angeles Times).

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