KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 3, 2009

It's August -- which means the battle over health reform is now heading home.

Dems And Republicans Head Home With Health Care Talking Points
Which phrase best describes Democrats' ideas on overhauling the health care system: a) a government takeover of health care, or b) a way to lower costs and improve the quality of care delivered? Is the proposal a) a package of tax hikes that will cripple small businesses, or b) a way to save families $1,800 a year? (Kaiser Health News).

Ad Audit: Conservatives For Patients' Rights "Squeezes" The Truth
The conservative lobbying group says health reform with a government option will "squeeze" Americans from all directions: higher taxes, an inflated deficit, skyrocketing premiums and lousy public health coverage. But the numbers don't add up (Kaiser Health News).

Democrats Find Rallying Points On Health Reform, But Splinters Remain
Democrats leave town for the August recess with frayed nerves and fragile agreements on health-care reform, and a new bogeyman to fire up their constituents: the insurance industry (Washington Post).

Two Sides Take Health Care Debate Outside Washington
With Republicans mobilizing against the proposed health care overhaul, President Obama, Congressional Democrats and leading advocacy groups are laying the groundwork for an August offensive against the insurance industry as part of a coordinated campaign to sell the public on the need for reform (New York Times).

5 Things To Watch During Recess
Sleepy, sweltering August, typically a month for congressional beach getaways and temperature-taking back in the district, is shaping up to be the critical month for health care reform, with major battles brewing in the Capitol and on the streets in front of members' hometown offices (Politico).

Democrats Walk A Careful Line On Healthcare
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is in a tough spot when it comes to overhauling the nation's healthcare system. Major hospitals in his largely rural district have told him the bill pending in the House would cripple them financially. But Boucher also believes that the need for change is painfully obvious: When a free medical clinic was offered in a remote area of his district, some 2,700 people showed up (LA Times).

Debating Prevention's Place In Healthcare Bill
As Congress struggles to decide how America should take care of its sick, another controversy is simmering over whether the healthcare legislation should include billions of dollars aimed at keeping people well (LA Times).

Democrats Reframing Insurers As Obstacle
Congressional Democrats - under assault from Republicans who say their approach to healthcare overhaul is too expensive, rushed, and heavy-handed - are heading into the summer recess with a target of their own: insurers (Boston Globe).

Senate Democrats Spar Over Public Plan
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) runs the health care negotiations like the patriarch of a sprawling clan, urging his members to keep their feuds within the family. But internal clashes about the government insurance option have begun to spill into the open (Politico).

Hatch: Dem Healthcare Plan "Out Of This World"
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has a long history of teaming up with Democrats on healthcare legislation, says Democratic healthcare reform plans now under consideration are "out of this world" (The Hill).

Analysis: Some Health Care Numbers Don't Tally
Some of President Barack Obama's health care numbers don't seem to add up. And that's complicating his efforts to pass his top domestic priority (Associated Press).

Divisions Surface In House On Medicare
A week-old agreement among House Democrats to smooth out disparities in the way Medicare reimburses rural and urban health providers is in danger of crumbling, as disputes erupted Friday over what actually was agreed to (Wall Street Journal).

California Offers Lessons On Insurance Exchanges
As Congress debates creating insurance "exchanges" as part of a health-care overhaul, the failure of a similar effort in California may offer important insights, former participants in the program say (Wall Street Journal).

Obama Officials: Taxes May Rise To Pay Health Care
Two of President Barack Obama's economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system (Associated Press/New York Times).

Shalala: Health Revamp May Mean Doctor Shortage
As legislators continue to work on an overhaul for the U.S. health care system, numerous questions linger. Here's one of them: If millions more Americans get health insurance, will there be enough doctors to handle the increase in patients? (National Public Radio).

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