KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Examining The Recent Winners And Losers In the Health Reform Debate

The health overhaul debate has, so far, produced winners and losers.

Bloomberg: "Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, and hospital companies including Community Health Systems Inc. are benefiting from agreements with President Barack Obama that will limit any threat to their profits." Insurers in the meantime have lost some ground as the penalties for not carrying insurance by individuals have been scaled back and medical device makers must deal with new taxes. Bloomberg lists other winners and losers as well (Jensen and Wechsler, 10/6).

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that that city's University Hospitals yet-to-be-built cancer center will get the same Medicare payments as most cancer hospitals despite Congressional attempts to boost their payments. "The Congress members, from both parties, say that a specialty cancer center should get extra payments to match its expertise. Such payments from Medicare, however, require an act of Congress, and the latest attempt at that has been quietly dropped." It's unclear if the proposal will be offered on the Senate floor (Koff, 10/6).

Politico reports that biotechnology is a big winner so far in the reform debate: "The biotech industry won lucrative tax credits last week during consideration of the Senate Finance Committee bill, and it dealt Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman a rare defeat over the summer by gaining much longer exclusivity for so-called biologic treatments than the powerful California Democrat sought." Much can still change in the debate, however, Politico reports, and nothing is certain until President Obama signs the legislation (O'Connor, 10/6).

Roll Call reports on lobbying and the ubiquity of health care lobbyists making it harder for other lobbyists to have their voices heard: "While influence peddlers aren't exactly twiddling their thumbs, for lobbyists who specialize in such industries as telecommunications, agriculture and high tech, Capitol Hill just doesn't have much of an appetite for their agenda" (Palmer, 10/6).

Finally, The Hill reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is busy behind the scenes trying to secure the deal he made with the pharmaceutical industry that some Democrats are trying to nullify. "Some Democrats on Capitol Hill believe Emanuel and others could have gotten more from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), adding they did not sign off on the pact and are not bound by it. It's a politically intriguing situation for Emanuel, who during his career in the House positioned himself as a leading antagonist of the pharmaceutical industry" (Bolton, 10/6).

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