First Edition: January 5, 2010

Today's headlines focus on the Democratic plans to advance the health bill compromise process and the latest on the nation's health spending.

For Pregnant African Tourist, U.S. Health Care System Comes Through
For Jeanne d'Arc Kayembe, the trip to Washington in May 2007 was meant to be a month-long respite from an abusive boyfriend and a chance to visit relatives before going home to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to have her first child (Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post).

Caught In The Middle: Making Too Much -- And Too Little -- To Benefit From Health Care Changes
Kaiser Health News staff writer Rick Schmitt, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Inquirer, writes about how costs may still prevent people from benefit from pending health care overhaul legislation. "Michael Rhoads seems just the sort of person who would benefit from health care overhaul legislation. … Congress is seeking to bridge the gap they face. But Rhoads says the likely cost of the solution would still be beyond his family’s budget" (Kaiser Health News and The Philadelphia Inquirer).

House Health Care Bill Offers Insurance Help To Some Migrants From Pacific Islands
Here in the self-described "Chicken Capitol of the World," an enclave of unlikely migrants - 6,000 people from the Marshall Islands - is watching the health care debate with heightened interest (Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with NPR).

Democrats May Bypass Formal Bill Process On Healthcare
As congressional Democrats work toward a final healthcare bill, they appear increasingly likely to forgo the formal conference committee process for merging House and Senate versions of the legislation, opting instead for closely held negotiations between leaders from the two chambers (Los Angeles Times).

Dems Intend To Bypass GOP On Health Compromise
House and Senate Democrats intend to bypass traditional procedures when they negotiate a final compromise on health care legislation, officials said Monday, a move that will exclude Republican lawmakers and reduce their ability to delay or force politically troubling votes in both houses (The Associated Press/The Washington Post).

Health Spending Rises In 2008, But At Slower Rate
Health spending grew in 2008 at the slowest pace in 48 years as the recession throttled back the explosive growth of health costs, the federal government reported Monday (The New York Times).

U.S. Health Spending Grew To $2.3 Trillion In 2008
The recession dramatically slowed U.S. health care spending to $2.3 trillion in 2008, but it still grew much faster than the economy as a whole, accounting for more than 16 percent of the nation's economic output, says a new federal analysis (The Associated Press).

Health Outlays Slow
U.S. health-care spending grew 4.4% in 2008, the smallest increase in nearly 50 years, as the recession caused consumers and employers to pare medical expenses (The Wall Street Journal).

Americans Slow Spending On Health Care
A decades-long boom in spending on doctors, hospitals and drugs slowed in 2008 to its lowest level, even as health care costs accounted for a greater share of the nation's economy, the federal government said in a report released Tuesday (USA Today).

Health Debate Resumes With WH Meet
The health care debate resumes in earnest on Tuesday after more than a week of quiet following Senate passage of its landmark bill on Christmas Eve (Politico).

Congress Proposes New Physician Payment System
The health care overhaul bills on Capitol Hill do not upend traditional "fee for service" payment for doctors, but they do include financial incentives for doctors to cut medical costs and improve patient care (NPR).  

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.