First Edition: December 9, 2009

Today's coverage details last night's tentative agreement struck by Senate Democratic negotiators in an effort to clear the public option impasse, and a vote on an abortion amendment.  

Democrats' Ideas To Expand Medicare Raise Hackles Of Doctors, Hospitals, Insurers
Kaiser Health News staff writers Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey write: "Hospitals, doctors and insurers lined up in opposition Tuesday to allowing people under 65 to join Medicare – an idea being debated as Senate negotiators struggle to put together the 60 votes needed to pass sprawling health care legislation" (12/9).

Recession Doesn't Keep Some States From Expanding Health Coverage
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz writes about a report released Tuesday. "Despite the economic downturn that's busting state budgets from Sacramento to Tallahassee, 26 states this year made it easier for low-income children, parents or pregnant women to get health coverage, according to a report released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation" (12/8).

Senate May Drop Public Option
Democratic Senate negotiators struck a tentative agreement Tuesday night to drop the controversial government-run insurance plan from their overhaul of the health-care system, hoping to remove a last major roadblock preventing the bill from moving to a final vote in the chamber (The Washington Post).

Reid Says Deal Resolves The Impasse On The Public Option
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said Tuesday night that he and a group of 10 Democratic senators had reached “a broad agreement” to resolve a dispute over a proposed government-run health insurance plan, which has posed the biggest obstacle to passage of sweeping health care legislation (The New York Times). The Times also has a transcript of Reid's remarks on the agreement.

Senate Democrats Reach Healthcare Deal On 'Public Option'
Senate Democrats reached what Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called a "broad agreement" Tuesday night that could remove a major obstacle to the massive healthcare bill (Los Angeles Times).

Senate Dems Claim 'Broad Agreement' On Public Option
A group of liberal and centrist Senate Democrats have come to a “broad agreement” to resolve intra-party disputes over healthcare reform legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday evening (The Hill).

Senators Strike Health Deal
Senior Senate Democrats reached tentative agreement Tuesday night to abandon the government-run insurance plan in their health-overhaul bill and to expand Medicare coverage to some people ages 55 to 64, clearing the most significant hurdle so far in getting a bill that can pass Congress (The Wall Street Journal).

Reid: Dems Reach 'Broad Agreement'
Senate Democrats have reached a "broad agreement" on a health reform bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday night — a plan that would replace the public option in the current Senate bill with a new national insurance plan offered by private insurers, and a chance for older Americans to “buy in” to Medicare (Politico).

Democrats Temper Public Option
Senate negotiators reached a tentative deal last night to drop a full-fledged government-run insurance plan from the health care overhaul bill and replace it with a patchwork of new ideas to help people get coverage, according to a Democratic Senate staffer (The Boston Globe).

Senate Rejects Strict Abortion Curbs In Health Bill
The Senate on Tuesday rejected an effort by abortion opponents to tighten restrictions in the health care overhaul bill on taxpayer dollars for the procedure, but it was unlikely to be the last word on the divisive issue (The Associated Press/NPR).

Senate Rejects Amendment On Abortion
The Senate voted against strengthening restrictions for federal funding of abortion Tuesday evening, a development that could imperil Democrats' efforts to pass an underlying healthcare reform bill (The Hill).

Nelson Amendment Fails, But Healthcare Abortion Battle Isn't Over
The Senate voted Tuesday to reject the strict antiabortion Nelson amendment to healthcare reform, but the abortion issue is still very much a factor as Democratic leaders seek to pass reform by Christmas (The Christian Science Monitor).

Drug-Import Backers Worry Obama May Scuttle Plan
A long-running effort to allow the import of lower-cost prescription drugs faces a new twist - President Barack Obama's administration is raising safety concerns that could effectively scuttle it, even though Obama backed the plan as a senator (The Associated Press).

Supporters Add Hidden Nuggets To Health Care Bills
The health care bills moving through Congress would do a lot more than revamp the nation's $2.6 trillion health care system. Buried among proposed programs for the uninsured are dozens of lesser-known provisions — from work breaks for breastfeeding moms to a requirement that chain restaurants disclose how many calories are in the fries (USA Today).

Fact-Checking: Medicare Advantage Statements
As part of the NPR series, "Is That So?, fact-checking the health care debate now on the Senate floor," NPR Congressional Correspondent David Welna deconstructs a statement by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about the Medicare Advantage program (NPR).

Economic Scene: Finding The Nerve To Cut Health Costs
David Leonhardt writes: "Over the next several weeks, members of Congress will be confronted with one scary story after another about what will happen if they try to cut health care costs" (The New York Times).

Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via email. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' email options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.