News reports explore remaining issues in Congress' health overhaul negotiations.
The Associated Press: "Although disabled workers can expect improvements, the legislation moving toward final passage in Congress doesn't deliver the clean fix that advocates for people with serious medical conditions hoped for. Some of the neediest could find themselves still in limbo." A two-year waiting period to enter Medicare is at issue (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/18).
Los Angeles Times: When Democrats began their health overhaul effort last year, trial lawyers thought they may face hard times ahead. "But after a massive lobbying campaign and party-line votes in Congress, the malpractice system is largely untouched by the Democrats' healthcare overhaul. Drug makers and the insurance industry, in contrast, were forced to make costly concessions" (Hamburger and Oliphant, 1/19).
Bloomberg reports that in the midst of this election challenge, divides also remain among Democrats in Congress. "While negotiators last week settled one central issue — curbing a tax on high-value insurance plans — House and Senate Democrats are split over other areas as they seek a compromise on their bills. These range from how to structure insurance-purchasing exchanges to how strictly to limit abortion funding" (Jensen, 1/19).
The Washington Post: "In a legislative debate filled with misconceptions, few rival the myth about Safeway, which has become the poster company for a provision that" would allow companies to charge employees different amounts for premiums based on certain medical tests. "The supermarket chain's story shows how the untested claims of interest groups can take on a life of their own and shape national policy." Despite claims that Safeway's wellness program kept costs down, the company's health spending rose more than the national average during the program, which at any rate, is too new to have demonstrated conclusive results (Hilzenrath, 1/17).
The Hill: "The White House is considering jettisoning bipartisan language championed by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) that would allow developers of complex biological drugs to sell their products without generic competition for 12 years. The provisions are part of both the House- and Senate-passed healthcare reform bills" (Young, 1/19).
NPR: Democrats are pushing for "more help for middle-income families to pay for health insurance they'll now be required to purchase" in the final bill. The care coverage would be less affordable according to the Senate version of the bill, but families would have to buy it in both versions (Rovner, 1/19).
The Washington Times: "Lawmakers in 30 states are pressing for constitutional amendments to exempt individuals from the requirement to purchase health care, a pivotal piece of the legislation" (Richardson, 1/19).
The Salt Lake Tribune: And, "Republicans, led by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, are challenging the very constitutionality of the health reform bill, focusing on a requirement that every American buy insurance or face a fine" (Canham, 1/19).
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