KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 13, 2009

Today's headlines offer more evidence -- when it comes to the continuing debate regarding attempts to overhaul the nation's health care system, August really is shaping up to be the cruelest month.

For Dying And Seriously Ill Children, Hope For Better Care
New models of care similar to hospice but not limited to children who are dying have emerged in a handful of states, and many more are moving in that direction. The programs provide services for a broader range of severely ill children, such as those with congenital defects, muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, massive burns or serious brain damage from car accidents and near-drownings (Kaiser Health News).

Racist Messages, Attacks Infect Health Care Debate
First, there were the protesters attempting to inject chaos into town hall meetings about the president's proposed health care overhaul. Then came the false rumors that the health care bill encourages seniors to end their lives early. And now, racist messages and acts of vandalism have infected the debate (NPR).

Health-Reform Rhetoric Gets Personal For Britons
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy would be refused treatment for his brain tumor in England -- at least according to one of the allegations lobbed at Britain's state-funded health-care service recently by critics of President Obama's proposed health-care reforms. Such claims have irked British health officials, who say they are misleading, exaggerated and sometimes just plain wrong (The Washington Post).

Poll: Health Care Views Take Sympathetic Tilt
The raucous protests at congressional town-hall-style meetings have succeeded in fueling opposition to proposed health care bills among some Americans, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds - particularly among the independents who tend to be at the center of political debates (USA Today).

Town-Hall Outbursts Reflect Worries Of American Public
It may seem hard to gauge whether the citizen outbursts at this month's town hall meetings are real or staged, but here's a kind of top-down reality check: The concerns protesters are raising are ones that many Americans relate to (The Christian Science Monitor).

Poll Numbers Steady On Health Care Debate
The battle for public opinion on a health care overhaul appears to be at a stalemate - even as conservative activists swarm congressional town halls to register their opposition and as the White House steps up its sales pitch (The Boston Globe).

Just Who Are These Health Care Protestors?
Americans...are adding their voices to a populist backlash evident in the taunts, jeers and rants at lawmakers' health care forums around the country in the past week and a half. The contentious sessions highlight the difficulty for President Barack Obama and the Democrats as they push for a comprehensive remaking of the nation's health care system (The Associated Press).

For Lawmakers, Health-Plan Anger Keeps Coming
Lawmakers ran into fresh anger and skepticism on Wednesday as they fielded questions from constituents worried about changes in the health care system, and about a lot of other things having to do with government (The New York Times).

End-Of-Life Provision Loses Favor
The cost of caring for patients who are near death accounts for a big piece of the government's medical spending. But a furor over a provision for government-paid counseling to plan for end-of-life care is steering lawmakers away from the issue (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama Injects Himself Into Health Talks, Despite Risks
In pursuing his proposed overhaul of the health care system, President Obama has consistently presented himself as aloof from the legislative fray, merely offering broad principles. Prominent among them is the creation of a strong, government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers and press for lower costs (The New York Times).

Massive Campaign For Obama Hits Air
A new coalition on Thursday is launching $12 million in television ads to support President Barack Obama's health-reform plan, in the opening wave of a planned tens of millions of dollars this fall (Politico).

Plan B For Business Groups: Going Negative
The town hall brawls over health care reform are already driving down public support for the effort – but that's not the worst of the danger to the White House. … Some drug and insurance companies, along with business groups, are working furiously behind the scenes to shape reform in their image – but failing that, they're preparing a Plan B that includes going negative (Politico).

Grassley: I'll Press Health Care Fight
Sen. Charles Grassley defended his Republican credentials amid threats from angry constituents Wednesday during a day of spirited public meetings that centered on his role at the heart of the health care debate on Capitol Hill (Des Moines Register).

Former Exec: Insurers Fomenting Town Hall Chaos
A former health insurance executive says the disruptions taking place at lawmakers' town halls around the country are the result of stealth efforts by health insurance companies (The Hill).

Emanuel's Brother Becomes A Target
Ezekiel Emanuel, a top health-care adviser to President Barack Obama and older brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is emerging as a target of conservatives critical of Democrats' health-care effort (The Wall Street Journal).

Team Health Care, Health Reform Push
Betty Ann Bowser reports on how a health care model that puts doctors, lab workers, and others all under one roof is finding success in Billings, Mont., and Judy Woodruff talks to the head of the Cleveland Clinic about health care reform from a provider's point of view (News Hour With Jim Lehrer).

Schwarzenegger Vows To Boost Patient Protections
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday conceded that long-standing delays in disciplining errant health professionals were "absolutely unacceptable" and promised broad reforms to better protect patients from dentists, pharmacists, therapists and others accused of misconduct (Los Angeles Times).

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