First Edition: December 8, 2009

Today's headlines highlight how Senate consideration of the health bill could become even messier with amendments pending on abortion funding restrictions and the reimportation of prescription drugs. All the while, Senate Dems continue to work to find common ground on the public option.

Transcript: Dissecting The Claims On Both Sides Of Health Reform Ads
Jackie Judd and Jordan Rau discuss the accuracies and inaccuracies of recent television ads on health care reform legislation (Kaiser Health News). Watch the video.

Kansas Medicaid Cuts Expected To Hinder Access To Care
This story, from Dave Ranney of the Kansas Health Institute -- a partner of KHN, takes a look at the impact of current budget cuts at the state level. "Consumer advocates and others say it will only become harder for low-income Kansans to get medical services now that the state is cutting Medicaid payments by 10 percent" (Kaiser Health News).

Senate Turns To Health Bill's Major Obstacles
Seeking to resolve two contentious issues blocking health-care reform in the Senate, lawmakers began consideration Monday of an amendment to restrict abortion coverage, while Democrats closed in on alternatives to the public-insurance option (The Washington Post).

Two Issues Threaten To Divide Senate Dems On Healthcare Reform
Two issues threaten to divide Senate Democrats as they struggle with the higher-profile question of whether to create a government-run health insurance plan (The Hill).

Senators Take Up Tricky Issues
For the next few weeks, the Senate floor will morph into a sort of legislative cage match, as Democrats and Republicans lock horns over a series of amendments to the health care bill that will give voters another glimpse of the philosophical and policy differences that divide the parties and a rare peek at the internal fighting among Democrats (Politico).

Liberal Senators Press For Expansion Of Medicare
In return for concessions on their proposal for a new government-run health insurance plan, liberal Democratic senators pushed Monday for expansion of Medicare and Medicaid and more stringent federal regulation of the insurance industry (The New York Times).

Senate Turns To Medicare, Medicaid
Senate Democrats are considering a significant expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, the health programs for the elderly and the poor, as part of a package of potential changes to health-overhaul legislation that would also sharply scale back a proposed new government-run insurance plan (The Wall Street Journal).

Democrats Inch Forward On Health Care Bill's Public Option
Senate Democrats gained ground Monday in addressing one of the most controversial provisions in the health care legislation — a government-run insurance plan — as they prepared to vote today on the divisive issue of abortion (USA Today).

Senate Democrats May Compromise On Public Option
Racing to complete work on healthcare legislation before Christmas, Senate Democrats worked on a compromise Monday that could leave their bill without a new government insurance plan (Los Angeles Times).

Watered-Down 'Public Plan' Emerges In Senate
They may still call it a "public plan," but private insurers - not the government - would offer coverage under a compromise Democrats are considering to win Senate passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

Public Option Compromise Takes Shape
A potential deal took shape Monday that could eliminate the public option from the Senate health reform bill, as Democrats weighed big expansions of both Medicare and Medicaid in a bid to break an impasse over the government insurance plan (Politico).

Abortion Dispute Threatens Overhaul
The battle over abortion is threatening to derail the health care overhaul package in the Senate, as liberals refuse to accept new abortion restrictions demanded by key moderates, who say that without the limits, they are inclined to vote against the overall bill (The Boston Globe).

Health-Bill Amendment Restricting Abortion
Antiabortion lawmakers in the Senate introduced an amendment Monday to restrict insurance coverage of abortion in the health bill, setting up a showdown that has no clear path to resolution (The Wall Street Journal).

Groups Try Simple Steps To Avoid Hospital Rebound
Talk about unnecessary misery: One in five Medicare patients winds up back in the hospital within a month - even worse, one in four patients with heart failure (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

Lieberman Riles Many With Role In Health Debate
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) has once again inserted himself into the middle of an inflamed partisan debate, raising questions about his motives, his ego and his fickle allegiance to the Democratic Party, which forgave him after he supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president (The Washington Post). 

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