First Edition: February 2, 2010

Today's health policy headlines focus on highlights of President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request and how it treats health-related programs. Meanwhile, in the background, health reform chatter continues. 

States Cutting Back Special Programs For The Uninsured
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, in collaboration with USA Today, writes that some states are paring back health insurance programs for low-income people - even as demand grows. "Sherie Brace fears the coming of summer. That’s when a special health insurance program for low-income adults in Washington state is set to close, ending coverage for her and about 65,000 others" (Kaiser Health News).

Obama's Budget Increases Funding For Medical Research That Compares Treatment
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Julie Appleby write about a particular aspect of the president's budget request. "The Obama administration, in an effort to forge ahead with its sometimes-contentious effort to compare various medical treatments, is proposing a big boost in funding for the agency that oversees the research" (Kaiser Health News).

How Health Care Fares In Obama's Budget Freeze
President Obama's proposed three-year freeze on most non-defense programs in the budget has spared most of the popular health programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. But with the huge health overhaul still on hold and a deadline at the end of February to fix Medicare payments for doctors, Congress can't afford to ignore health for very long (NPR).

How Obama's Budget Would Affect Each Agency
An agency-by-agency look at the priorities in the Obama budget proposal (The Washington Post).

Extra Money For Science In Obama's Budget
Calming fears that scientific research would be hurt by the Obama administration, the budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services was $81.3 billion, up from $79.6 billion a year ago. And the National Institutes of Health saw its budget request rise by $1 billion, to $32 billion, more than was requested last year (The New York Times).

If Health Care Dies, Obama's Modest Budget Plan B
President Barack Obama's modest health care budget may be a harbinger of what's ahead if his overhaul plan dies in Congress. The budget released Monday contains lots of respectable ideas to squeeze savings, expand coverage and improve quality, but no ambitious change that launches the nation on a path to health care for all. (The Associated Press).

Obama's Struggle With Health-Care Reform Echoes Clintons' Failure In 1994
Obamacare in trouble? I've seen this story before. It may not end in the way the Clinton effort imploded in 1994. But a look back helps answer this question: How does health-care reform go from being an apple pie issue with voters to a lightning rod for discontent? Here are a few reasons, gleaned from the past, that may help explain Obamacare's troubles (The Washington Post).

Medicare 'Doc Fix' May Cost $200 B
Doctors and seniors lobbying to stave off looming annual Medicare cuts have won a reprieve of sorts but are still pushing for a permanent fix (Politico).

States Restart Health-Care Push
With the fate of a national health care overhaul unclear, state legislators are pushing their own bills aimed at expanding coverage, though tight budgets are likely to hinder many of these efforts (The Wall Street Journal).

Vital Signs - Aging: Higher Go-Payments Tied To Costlier Care
When Medicare plans raise co-payments for outpatient care, older people cut back on doctors’ visits, then wind up needing more expensive hospital care, a new study reports (The New York Times).

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