KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: July 20, 2009

The timeline for health overhaul legislation, as well as continuing concerns about proposals' costs, deficits and taxes, all are hot topics in today's headlines:

Model' Health Systems: Include Medicare Fix In Reform
When talking about his vision for the U.S. health care system, President Barack Obama points to places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, which are known for providing high-quality, low-cost care (Kaiser Health News).

White House Less Firm On Date For Health Care Bill
President Obama's budget director on Sunday appeared to soften on the administration's insistence that a health care reform bill be delivered by August (New York Times).

President Is Set To 'Take The Baton'
With skepticism about the president's health-care reform effort mounting on Capitol Hill -- even within his own party -- the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to dramatically increase public pressure on Congress: all Obama, all the time (Washington Post).

Official: 5 Plans Revamp Health Care, None Final
President Barack Obama's advisers are urging critics of their health care overhaul to wait for Congress to finish writing legislation before issuing verdicts. They also signaled they are willing to wait longer than their White House-imposed August deadline for action if it means they can sway wary lawmakers (Associated Press).

Doctors' Payments Snag Health Bill
A plan to end a program that would cut government payments to doctors is emerging as the flash point in the debate over whether President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the health system would increase the federal budget deficit (Wall Street Journal).

Governors Fear Medicaid Costs In Health Plan
The nation's governors, Democrats as well as Republicans, voiced deep concern Sunday about the shape of the health care plan emerging from Congress, fearing that Washington was about to hand them expensive new Medicaid obligations without money to pay for them (New York Times).

Drug Makers Criticized For Co-Pay Subsidies
Even as U.S. lawmakers seek new ways to rein in health-care spending, drug companies are quietly circumventing a proven tool for controlling prescription-drug costs: insurance co-payments (Wall Street Journal).

Health Bill Might Direct Tax Money To Abortion
An Obama administration official refused Sunday to rule out the possibility that federal tax money might be used to pay for abortions under proposed health care legislation (New York Times).

Deficits, Taxes Dominate Healthcare Debate
President Obama's top cabinet advocates for universal healthcare were grilled on Sunday over how to raise taxes, as well budget reports questioning whether leading healthcare proposals in Congress will lower healthcare spending, a key pillar of Obama's sales pitch on his top priority (The Hill).

Nancy Pelosi: Make Millionaires Pay For Health Care
Trying to sell a historic health bill to a balky caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told POLITICO in an interview that she wants to soften a proposed surcharge on the wealthy so that it applies only to families that make $1 million or more (Politico).

Democrats' New Worry: Their Own Rich Voters
A group of Democrats elected in recent years from some of the country's richest congressional districts have emerged as a stumbling block to raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for President Barack Obama's ambitious health-care overhaul just as the plan has begun to meet increasing resistance over its cost (Wall Street Journal).

'More Has To Be Done' On Health Reform, Obama Official Says
Top Obama administration officials went into damage-control mode Sunday, seeking to reassure Americans that healthcare reform would do what it claims: rein in rising costs (Christian Science Monitor).

Can The Shrimpers' Doctor Navigate The Seas Of Partisanship
Like most everyone in this small, scruffy city of boat builders and fishermen, Sammy Duffy tends to rave about surgeon general nominee Regina Benjamin and all that she has done for the hard-working people here who labor without the safety net of health insurance (LA Times).

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