KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 31, 2011

Today's headlines include details about the GOP tax expert who has been named to help run the deficit-reduction "super committee" as well as the health policy ideas Republican governors are offering in the context of the nation's fiscal fix. 

Kaiser Health News: Federal COBRA Insurance Subsidies End For Laid-Off Workers
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "One of the key consumer benefits of the federal stimulus package – subsidies to help laid-off workers continue their health care coverage – draws to a close Wednesday, raising concerns about how the unemployed will cover those expenses" (Galewitz, 8/31).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Economists Caution: ACOs May Not End Wasteful Health Spending
Now Kaiser Health News' blog, Jordan Rau writes: "Expensive technologies like proton beam therapy and hot chemo baths are among the reasons America’s health care spending is rising at an unsustainable clip and making the federal deficit so hard to tame." Check out the blog.

The Washington Post: GOP Tax Expert To Help Run Debt-Reduction 'Super Committee'
A veteran Senate GOP tax expert with long experience working across the aisle was tapped Tuesday to help run a powerful new congressional debt-reduction committee, buoying hopes that the panel would produce a plan to tame borrowing. … The announcement comes as the panel … gears up for its September debut. Created this summer as part of an epic battle to raise the legal limit on government borrowing, the 12-member panel must identify a plan by Thanksgiving to slice at least $1.2 trillion from projected borrowing over the next decade or risk triggering across-the-board cuts in January 2013 (Montgomery, 8/30).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Tax Expert To Lead Deficit-Committee Staff
Part of the committee's preparation has been a review of recommendations made by other budget groups, such as the Bowles-Simpson bipartisan fiscal commission, which called for $4 trillion in deficit cuts over 10 years, and the ad hoc group of leaders convened by Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year. Some aides to committee members had expected the top staff post to be filled by someone without a party affiliation, such as a staffer from the Congressional Budget Office or Congressional Research Service. The Republican senators Mr. Prater works for on the Finance Committee have strongly opposed Democratic demands that any deficit-reduction deal include tax increases. But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said, "Mark has a proven track record of putting partisanship aside and reaching across the aisle to find balanced solutions—and that's exactly what this Joint Committee needs" (Hook, 8/31).

Los Angeles Times: Tax Counsel To Lead Staff Of Deficit 'Super Committee'
A veteran Senate Finance Committee GOP staffer has been named to the top spot on the bipartisan congressional "super committee" on deficit reduction, which is beginning to take shape with just 12 weeks to accomplish its ambitious budget-cutting goals. Every step of the creation of the 12-member panel is a political minefield in this hyper-partisan congressional era (Mascaro, 9/30).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Governors Say US Fiscal Fix Should Let States Decide Medicaid Rules And Spending
The nation's Republican governors, seeking a voice in Congress' upcoming debt debate, pushed Tuesday for looser restrictions on how states spend money on health care for poor and disabled Americans. … Medicaid should be custom-designed by each state to best provide care to children, the poor and disabled without federal rules and the waivers required to get around them, their report said (Kellman, 8/30).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: To Cut Medicaid Costs, GOP Governors Target Illegal Immigrants
Republican governors have a new target in their quest to cut Medicaid costs: illegal immigrants. In a report released Tuesday, the Republican Governors Association outlined 31 solutions that it says would bring down the cost. Medicaid is a top budget item for states, and governors from both parties have complained it's busting their purse as more people lose jobs and qualify for the federal-state insurance program for the poor (Adamy, 8/30).

Politico: President Obama Pledges To Help 'The 9/11 Generation' Of Veterans
President Barack Obama committed on Tuesday to taking care of what he called "the 9/11 generation," vowing to spare Iraq and Afghanistan veterans' health, education and employment training programs from Washington's budget ax (Thrush, 8/30).

Politico: Perry Defends Clinton Letter, Says He Doesn't Know Mitt Well
Rick Perry slapped back at a story Tuesday claiming he'd once sent a letter to Hillary Clinton praising her effort at pushing health care reform during her husband's administration. In an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show, Perry said that the message he'd written to then-first lady Clinton had urged her to keep farmers in mind as a health care law came together, not endorse the measures the Clinton administration ended up proposing (Burns, 8/30).

The Washington Post: Compensation System Urged For Research Victims
The United States should create a system to compensate people who are harmed by participating in scientific research, a panel of federal advisers recommended Tuesday. Many other countries require sponsors of studies and researchers to carry insurance for research-related injuries or have other ways to compensate volunteers who are harmed, making the United States an "outlier," the subcommittee of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues concluded (Stein, 8/30).

The Washington Post: McDonnell: Draft Abortion Regulations Are In 'Interest Of Health'
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said he has not read the draft regulations for abortion clinics, released late Friday, but that the intent of the proposal is to look after women's health, not to close the facilities. "It's in the interest of health," McDonnell said on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio in Washington (Kumar, 8/30).

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