KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: May 19, 2010

Today's headlines highlight issues related to the federal debt, developments regarding the Medicare physician payment fix and news from the states.

Democrats Queasy About Deficit Spending
With voters up in arms over the mounting federal debt, congressional Democrats are growing increasingly queasy about adding to the nation's tab, with some arguing that additional spending to prop up the economy and help the unemployed should be paid for or abandoned (The Washington Post).

AMA Opposes 'Doc Fix' In Tax Legislation
The American Medical Association is opposing the Medicare "doc fix" included in the tax extenders bill House Democrats are preparing. AMA argues the proposed fix to the Medicare payment system for physicians doesn't address the program's solvency issues and only pushes the problem five years down the road (The Hill).

House Dems Scramble For Spending Deal
House and Senate Democrats worked into Tuesday night, trying to reach a final deal on a scaled-back package of tax cuts and new spending designed to stimulate jobs and assure a stable flow of benefits for the long-term unemployed through November's elections. Unable to win over Republican moderates in the Senate, Democrats are resigned to scrapping much of an ambitious five-year, $90 billion-plus plan to provide Medicare physicians with a little more certainty as to their reimbursements (Politico).

WellPoint CEO Is Grilled
Pressure is mounting on WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela Braly, who faced tough questions about the health insurer's practices at its annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, before the gathering ended abruptly after a director collapsed (The Wall Street Journal).

Mass. Senate Approves Bill To Contain Health Costs
Wealthier hospitals would be required to make a one-time $100 million contribution to ease insurance premiums for smaller businesses under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate (The Associated Press).

Bill Would Aid Hospitals Linked To Probe
Two financially struggling New York City hospitals linked to a corruption scandal in Albany would be allowed to borrow an additional $160 million with state backing under a bill now being considered by lawmakers (The Wall Street Journal).

Man Convicted Of Recruiting HIV Patients To Buy Lucrative Painkillers
A man who recruited destitute HIV patients to be straw purchasers in a prescription drug scheme was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times).

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