KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: July 21, 2009

Money, advertising and tough talk mark today's headlines: 

Blue Dog Ross's Conundrum: Should He Battle Health Bill That Could Benefit His Depressed Town?
Rep. Mike Ross, who grew up in this tiny town of 3,600, represents residents like 62-year-old Sandy Barham, a restaurant owner with a heart ailment who can't afford health insurance for herself or her employees. … Many people in and around this economically depressed town can't afford insurance, even as the battered economy has made it harder for employers to provide coverage for workers. They're looking to Washington for help, and Ross, a conservative Democrat with a strong voice in the debate over health care legislation, says he's on their side (Kaiser Health News).

Democrats May Limit Tax Increases For Health Care Plan
As President Obama began a new push to overhaul the health system, Democratic Congressional leaders, bowing to unease among lawmakers and governors in their own party, on Monday suggested scaling back a plan to tax top earners to pay for the sweeping legislation and signaled a retreat from their ambitious timetable (New York Times).

Obama Takes Healthcare Debate And Runs With It
President Obama is becoming more personally invested in rallying the public and Congress behind a healthcare overhaul, even as some Republicans raise the stakes in the debate by claiming that defeating his plan would undermine his presidency (LA Times).

President Obama Mixes It Up In Health Care Brawl
President Barack Obama dove into the political street-fight threatening his signature issue Monday - taking aim at a first-term Republican senator in hopes of rallying Democrats increasingly nervous about Obama-style reform (Politico).

GOP Focuses Effort To Kill Health Bills
Emboldened by divided Democrats and polls that show rising public anxiety about President Obama's handling of health care and the economy, Republicans on Monday launched an aggressive effort to link the two, comparing the health-care bills moving through Congress to what they labeled as a failed economic stimulus bill (Washington Post).

Democrats Battle To Regain Healthcare Momentum
With a self-imposed August deadline looming, Democratic leaders are struggling to regain momentum for an overhaul of the nation's $2.3 trillion healthcare system (Christian Science Monitor).

Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters Of Reform
As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate (Washington Post).

Drug Industry, Pfizer Lead In Health Lobbying
The drug industry's trade group and one of the nation's biggest pharmaceutical companies reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year (Associated Press).

Biotech Firms Lobby For Say On Healthcare
The 46 million Americans without health insurance are probably not spending much time thinking about how Congress should curb monopolies on expensive biotech drugs. But the issue, which offers a case study in the ways of Washington influence, is among dozens that have spurred a lobbying frenzy this summer as Congress debates a historic healthcare overhaul (Boston Globe).

Health Care Debate's Biggest Players Turn Up The Volume
The health care scare is on. With the House of Representatives and the Senate hoping to vote on comprehensive health care bills by the end of this month, opponents and proponents of the measures are intensifying their rhetoric and saturating the media to move public support to their sides (McClatchy).

Ad Campaigns Aim At Health Overhaul
Major business groups are launching a series of new advertising campaigns aimed at shaping Congress' health overhaul (Wall Street Journal).

Dodd's HELP Panel Role Helps His Money Raising
Despite highlighting his independence from K Street, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is accepting campaign cash from lobbyists and political action committees (PACs), leaving himself vulnerable to criticism (The Hill).

Left Targets Baucus On Public Option
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) may have brought Democrats as close as they have been in years to enacting health care reform, but grass-roots progressives consider him their No. 1 target (Politico).

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