Washington Health Policy Week in Review

Washington Health Policy Week in Review is a weekly newsletter that offers selected stories from the daily newsletter CQ HealthBeat.

Obama Underscores Health Care Urgency
Responding to worries over the $1 trillion price tag attached to health care overhaul plans and resistance from several corners of Congress, President Obama is stepping up his salesmanship. The president pushed back last Wednesday night during a nationally televised news conference that largely revolved around his ambitious plan to retool the U.S. health system. Obama underscored the importance of completing work on a plan within weeks and prodded lawmakers not to succumb to political inertia.
House Dissidents Still Not Satisfied on Health Bill

Despite claims of a "significant breakthrough" on their health care overhaul bill, House leaders still face trouble from dissident Democrats who have blocked action in a key committee.

Report: High Premiums Significant Obstacle to Buying Individual Insurance
Nearly three-quarters of Americans who tried to purchase health care insurance on their own in the last three years did not end up buying a plan, most often because premiums were too high, according to a report released last week by The Commonwealth Fund.
Democrats Launch Health Offensive as Senate Leaders Postpone Floor Vote

Democrats spread out in a health offensive in the wake of President Obama's health care press conference, as lawmakers revived their attacks on Republican ideas for a health overhaul, decried insurance industry practices, talked up the value of an independent commission to curb Medicare spending and brought in "real people" in to make the case for change.

House Leaders May Put 'Trigger' on Surtax, Seek More Health Savings

House Democratic leaders are showing cold feet on a plan to tax the wealthy to finance a health care overhaul and may rewrite the legislation to seek more savings from payment changes in Medicare and Medicaid. The bill's surtax on high earners, meanwhile, could be adjusted so that it is only implemented if expected savings don't materialize.

Senate Will Not Vote on Health Bill Until September

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate will wait until September to take up a health care overhaul, but the Finance Committee will vote before the August recess. Reid said he would oversee blending the Finance version with the bill approved July 15 by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on a party-line vote.