KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: December 15, 2009

A glance at today's health policy headlines offers a common theme: Senate Democrats are likely to abandon the Medicare buy-in plan, which just last week was heralded as part of a compromise plan in that chamber's health bill.

Senate Health Bill Unlikely To Include Medicare Buy-In
Senate Democratic leaders appeared poised Monday night to abandon efforts to create a government-run insurance safety net in their push for health-care reform, as they attempted to close ranks around a bill they hoped would win the backing of all 60 members of their caucus (The Washington Post).

Senate Democrats Likely to Drop Medicare Expansion
Senate Democratic leaders said Monday that they were prepared to drop a proposed expansion of Medicare and scrap a new government-run health insurance plan as they tried to rally their caucus in hopes of passing the bill before Christmas (The New York Times).

Democrats Drop Plan To Expand Medicare
Senate Democrats on Monday evening dropped a plan to expand Medicare, winning the support of moderates and the reluctant acquiescence of liberals, in another major step toward building enough support to pass a health-care overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

Senate Democrats Move To Drop Medicare Proposal
Senate Democratic leaders, scrambling for the 60 votes they need to pass the healthcare overhaul bill, moved Monday to strike a controversial proposal for expanding Medicare and proceed without a new government insurance program, the so-called public option (Los Angeles Times).

Democrats May Drop Medicare Buy-In
Senate Democrats said Monday they are prepared to drop a proposal to let people under 65 buy into the Medicare program if that's what it takes to pass President Obama's health care initiative (USA Today).

Medicare Buy-In Is Latest Hurdle For Health Bill
Senate Democratic leaders grappled for a health care deal behind closed doors last night, as a fragile and tentative agreement they announced last week threatened to collapse (The Boston Globe).

Reid Bows To Centrists, Will Drop Medicare Buy-In Provision
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the healthcare legislation before Christmas, senators say (The Hill).

Dems May Drop Medicare Expansion
Senate Democrats on Monday night were prepared to drop from the health reform bill a plan to expand Medicare coverage after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he could not support it - a move that could clear the way for passage before Christmas but would infuriate the party's liberals, who feel as if the moderate Lieberman thwarted them once again (Politico).

Obama To Work To Solidify Support For Health Bill
After months of turmoil, President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are reaching for the unity they need to pass health care legislation by Christmas, but without the government-run insurance program that liberals have long sought (The Associated Press).

Capital Journal: The Choice Facing Democrats
The fate of pending U.S. health-care legislation -- and its political impact next year -- likely hangs on one simple question: Will Democrats conclude they are better off passing a highly controversial bill than passing nothing at all? Most likely, the answer to that question is yes (The Wall Street Journal).

Parties Switch Medicare Roles
For decades, Republicans scraped and clawed to cut money from Medicare. But these days, they're talking as if they created the popular health care program for seniors. And Democrats - seeking to trim more than $450 billion from the safety net for seniors over the next 10 years to help finance a sweeping health reform bill - are having to swallow their old rants against cutting the program. In the war over health care reform, both parties seem to be surrendering old turf and defending new territory, as fiscal realities and pocketbook politics force reversals in long-standing positions (Politico).

Lieberman Get Ex-Party To Shift On Health Plan
Just the thought of Joseph I. Lieberman makes some Democrats want to spit nails these days. But Mr. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, is not the least troubled by his status as Capitol Hill's master infuriator - and on Monday he showed how powerful that role can be at a time when Democrats cannot spare a single vote (The New York Times).

Joe Lieberman's Line In The Sand Over Senate Healthcare Reform
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut has emerged as perhaps the key player in the fate of healthcare reform legislation in the Senate – infuriating many Democrats, who accuse him of acting less out of a sense of principle than a desire to protect insurance companies, a key industry in his state (The Christian Science Monitor).

Senate Democrats Split On Prescription Drug Imports
When it comes to revamping health care, Senate Democrats are having trouble holding their caucus together. They're split on the public option, on abortion - and now, on prescription drug imports (NPR).

Drugmakers Fight Plan To Allow Imports
Drugmakers intensified their lobbying push Monday against a popular proposal to allow Americans to buy cheaper drugs from other countries, one of several heated disputes that have bogged down negotiations over a heath-care reform bill (The Washington Post).

Move Afoot To Reward Consumer Thrift
The health-care bills moving through Congress contain little to reward consumers for lowering their health costs, an omission prompting some lawmakers to press for more such incentives (The Wall Street Journal).

Plan For Kidney Drugs Spurs Division
A Congressional proposal to help pay for drugs needed by transplant recipients to prevent rejection of donated kidneys has run into opposition from dialysis providers, drug companies and the National Kidney Foundation (The New York Times).

Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via email. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' email options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.