KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: April 20, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about new poll results showing that Americans oppose cuts to Medicare as a means to deal with the debt problem.

Kaiser Health News: Nursing Home Industry Leader Worries About Cut To Medicare, Medicaid
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Mark Parkinson, who heads the nation's largest nursing home lobby, finds it hard to celebrate government estimates predicting an explosion in the number of Americans aged 85 and older during the next few decades" (Galewitz, 4/19).

The Washington Post: Poll Shows Americans Oppose Entitlement Cuts To Deal With Debt Problem
Despite growing concerns about the country' long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget (Cohen and Balz, 4/20).

Politico: Poll: Taxing The Rich Favored Over Medicare Cuts
Most Americans oppose the big spending cuts that many in Washington see as necessary to bring down the budget deficit, a new poll suggests, but they do support one idea for deficit reduction that President Barack Obama has pushed for years – raising taxes on the rich. Only small slivers of the group of Americans surveyed for a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday said they support cuts to Medicare and Medicaid – 21 percent and 30 percent, respectively – and cuts to defense spending get the support of 42 percent of those surveyed. Seventy-eight percent of Americans are opposed to Medicare cuts, while 69 percent are opposed to Medicaid cuts (Epstein, 4/20).

The Wall Street Journal Washington Wire: Democrats Use Ryan Budget For Attack Ads
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched radio ads attacking Mr. Ryan's proposal to overhaul Medicare in 25 Republican districts today, and an off-beat Web ad that suggests seniors will have to find alternative sources of income under the proposal (Yadron, 4/19).

The New York Times: Obama Panel To Curb Medicare Finds Foes In Both Parties
Democrats and Republicans are joining to oppose one of the most important features of President Obama's new deficit reduction plan, a powerful independent board that could make sweeping cuts in the growth of Medicare spending (Pear, 4/19).

The Associated Press: Obama Administration Eases Pain Of Medicare Cuts
In a policy shift critics see as political, the Health and Human Services department has decided to award quality bonuses to hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans rated merely average. The $6.7 billion infusion could head off service cuts that would have been a headache for Obama and Democrats in next year's elections for the White House and Congress (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/19).

Politico: The Big Abortion Fight That May Not Happen
Republican legislatures across the country are passing tough new anti-abortion laws - and while abortion rights advocates believe the new laws are unconstitutional, they're not rushing to court to stop them (Kliff, 4/20).

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Heightens Painkiller Oversight
Letters have been sent to manufacturers of the drugs describing the medication guides and tools for physician training that are now required, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. The FDA will approve the materials, which will also be accredited by professional physician-education providers, she said, a step meant to combat bias in the materials (Gleason, 4/20).

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