KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: April 7, 2011

Today's headlines include reports that the House Budget Committee yesterday approved the Ryan plan, which includes provisions to reshape Medicare and Medicaid, by a party-line vote. Meanwhile, congressional leaders and the White House seem to be making some progress is talks to reach agreement on current-year spending and avert a government shutdown.   

Kaiser Health News: Patient Safety Experts Says Law Could Lead To Overuse Of Medical Care: The KHN Interview
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau recently talked with Rosemary Gibson, who, for more than 16 years, has led national efforts to improve quality and safety in health care as a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Rau, 4/7).

Kaiser Health News Column: Debunking The Mythology: The Utah And Massachusetts Health Exchanges
In her latest Kaiser Health News column, Sabrina Corlette writes: "Much has been made of the health insurance exchanges in Utah and Massachusetts -- for many observers they sit on opposite points of a continuum of what exchanges can and should provide for consumers and small businesses. As one Utah official put it, the two exchange models 'may well serve as bookends for other states.' But is that really true?" (4/6).

NPR: Budget Office: GOP Medicare Plan Could Lead To Rationing
Remember all those allegations from Republicans that the Affordable Care Act would inevitably lead to health care rationing? It turns out the same might be true of the House GOP budget plan for Medicare. At least that's the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office (Rovner, 4/6).

The Associated Press: Parties Split As House Panel OKs 2012 GOP Budget
The party-line 22-16 vote underscored the sharp partisan divide over the blueprint, crafted by the committee's chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at a time of record federal red ink. The measure lays the groundwork for a decade of cuts in spending, taxes and deficits, tempered by a shift in medical costs from the government to future retirees and a reshaping of the two chief federal health programs for the elderly and poor, Medicare and Medicaid (Alonso-Zaldivar and Fram, 4/6).

Los Angeles Times: Some Progress Cited In Federal Budget Talks
Even as the public bickering continued, there was progress behind the scenes on details of the spending reductions, and negotiators planned to work through the night. But House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), juggling his own political pragmatism with the conservative convictions of the GOP majority, has refused to yield to a public compromise with Democrats. … Obama said additional sessions may be needed, and added that a failure of talks, leading to a government shutdown after midnight Friday, would adversely affect the country. … Conservatives are demanding deeper spending cuts as well as sweeping policy changes in order to reach a deal (Mascaro and Nicholas, 4/7).

The Washington Post: In Budget Fight, Conservatives Have Put Themselves In A Corner
They are the strongest voices against a budget compromise: the conservative Republicans who have said they won't accept a deal with Democrats on spending cuts, even if that means a government shutdown. On Wednesday, some of them began to signal, without quite saying it, that they had put themselves in a bind (Fahrenthold and Gardner, 4/6).

The New York Times: Federal Departments Lay Out Plans In The Event Of A Government Shutdown
With the possibility of a government shutdown looming, Obama administration officials raced Wednesday to identify essential government services that would have to be provided if the government ran out of money (Pear, 4/6).

NPR: Brief Federal Shutdown Wouldn't Faze Medicare Or Medicaid
If the current budget standoff on Capitol Hill leads to a shutdown of the federal government on Friday, recipients of the Medicare and Medicaid health programs won't have to worry. At least not for a while (Rovner, 4/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Shutdown Holds Risk For GOP
With Congress and the White House in marathon talks to try to avoid a government shutdown, Republican lawmakers are caught between the demands of their conservative base insisting they hold their ground on deep budget cuts and the wishes of political independents they will need in the 2012 election who are pressing for compromise, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds (Weisman and King, 4/7).

NPR: At California Mental Hospitals, Fear Is Part Of The Job
The tipping point for major change is often tragedy. That may be the case in California at the state psychiatric hospital in Napa, where an employee was killed last October, allegedly by a patient - one of thousands of violent acts committed at the hospital that year (Jaffe, 4/7). First in a two part series.

The New York Times: Virginia Lawmakers Limit Insurers' Abortion Coverage
Lawmakers in Virginia approved an amendment Wednesday that would ban private insurance plans from covering abortions if they participate in a state health care exchange under President Obama's new health care law (Tavernise, 4/7).

The Washington Post: Virginia Assembly Pushes Back Against McDonnell's Proposed Budget Changes
A divided Virginia General Assembly pushed back Wednesday against Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's proposed changes to the state budget and other bills - overriding his veto of an effort to raise awards in medical malpractice lawsuits and rejecting his attempt to weaken measures that would require businesses to provide insurance for autistic children and mandate that leak-plagued oil tanks in Fairfax be brought up to code (Kumar and Helderman, 4/6).

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