KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: September 23, 2009

Today's headlines mark the opening day of the Senate Finance Committee's health bill mark up as well as a new round up of changes to the chairman's mark.

Baucus Bill Doesn't Bend Cost Curve Enough, Experts Say
President Barack Obama and his congressional allies such as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have repeatedly vowed to "bend the curve" on health care costs, and Baucus' new bill makes good on some of those promises (Kaiser Health News).

Medicare Makes Patients Happy, But Can It Last?
Whether or not to create a new government-run health plan may be the biggest source of discord in the ongoing debate over a health overhaul. At the same time, however, many of the nation's most satisfied health care consumers are recipients of an existing government health plan: Medicare (Part of the ongoing series, Are You Covered?, by NPR and Kaiser Health News).
See related explanation of Medicare benefits and video.

Baucus Offers Higher Subsidies, Other Changes To His Healthcare Bill
In a bid to attract liberals and unify Democrats on his healthcare overhaul bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday proposed to boost subsidies for financially strapped people who would be required to buy insurance (Los Angeles Times).

Health-Care Markup Is Just Beginning
For all the posturing and hype surrounding the Finance Committee health care reform bill, there was little real suspense inside Hart 216 on Tuesday (Politico).

Lines Drawn As Senate Panel Begins Debating Health Bill
Democrats and Republicans formed clear battle lines Tuesday as the Senate Finance Committee opened a high-stakes debate on health-care legislation proposed last week by the panel's chairman (The Washington Post).

Parties Clash On Long-Awaited Day For Health Bill
As the Senate Finance Committee took up legislation, Democrats expressed confidence Tuesday that their effort to remake the nation's health care system was gaining momentum. But Republicans sharpened their attacks on a requirement that most Americans carry insurance, a central element of the bill (The New York Times).

GOP Assails Health-Plan Mandate
Senior Republicans challenged Democratic plans to require nearly all people to carry health insurance, sharpening attacks on the first day of Senate Finance Committee debate over legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care system (The Wall Street Journal).

Democrats Try To Move On Health Bill; G.O.P. Objects
Senate Finance Committee Democrats working on sweeping health care legislation are attempting a delicate juggling act: Making health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans while holding down spending (The Associated Press).

Lawmakers Regrouping To Seek Healthcare Deal
Democrats' failure to attract Republican support on health reform has launched new bipartisan talks in both chambers as groups seek to influence the legislation ahead of crucial floor debates (The Hill).

Healthcare Mandates: Are They A Tax Or Not
The debate over healthcare reform is now also a debate over what the meaning of "tax" is. Opponents of President Obama and congressional Democrats say that a mandate for Americans to buy insurance – or else pay a penalty to the government – would amount to a new tax on much of the middle class (The Christian Science Monitor).

Economic Scene: A System Breeding More Waste
The debate over medical malpractice can often seem theological. On one side are those conservatives and doctors who have no doubt that frivolous lawsuits and Democratic politicians beholden to trial lawyers are the reasons American health care is so expensive. On the other side are those liberals who see malpractice reform as another Republican conspiracy to shift attention from the real problem (The New York Times).

Budget Chief Contradicts Obama On Medicare Costs
Congress' chief budget officer on Tuesday contradicted President Barack Obama's oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn't see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul (The Associated Press).

Medicare Hike Would Pinch Seniors
Low inflation and the twists of Medicare law are creating a political nightmare for Congress: millions of elderly left with higher Part B premiums and no annual cost-of-living increase from Social Security (Politico).

G.O.P. Senator Draws Critics In Both Parties
Nearly three decades ago, Charles E. Grassley was among the Republican conservatives swept into the Senate on the wave that Ronald Reagan rode to the White House. Now he is on the defensive as he seeks a sixth term, no longer conservative enough for those back home in Iowa who style themselves the protectors of the Reagan legacy (The New York Times).

Health Care: Five Faces Of The Uninsured
The nation's uninsured - a growing class of people whose recession-fed ranks have swelled to 46.3 million - are central to the health care debate in Washington and the questions about how and whether to get them covered are as vexing and emotional as they come (USA Today).

For French, U.S. Health Debate Hard To Imagine
When Jean-Louis Aloy could no longer walk comfortably among his olive trees in the hills above Marseille, he knew the time had come. Bowing to doctor's orders, he checked in to a hospital for a long-delayed back operation (The Washington Post).

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