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Lawmakers In Kansas, Idaho Prepare Measures To Pre-Empt Any National Mandate To Purchase Insurance

The Associated Press/Forbes : "Kansas lawmakers have heard testimony on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution asserting Kansans' right to refuse to buy health insurance. Proponents of the measure call it a response to Democratic proposals in Congress that they say would force people to buy health insurance or face penalties for failing to do so." Supporters of the amendment believe the mandate in the national legislation is unconstitutional (2/9). In related news, The Associated Press/Canadian Business reports that "Idaho House Republicans passed a bill Tuesday meant to scuttle proposed federal health care reforms that would require residents or companies to buy insurance.

Murtha's Death May Complicate House Efforts On Health Overhaul, Conrad Blasts Media For Health Coverage, More

The Washington Independent : "The death of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) is a blow to Democratic efforts to pass the Senate version of health care reform in the House - they're now down one vote from a swing district Democrat willing to make the tough choice. But what might turn out to be an insurmountable problem is the intransigence of two liberals in the House conference, Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio.). Both say they won't vote for anything less than a single payer system" (Weigel, 2/9). Politico : "Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told reporters today that Democrats don't need to have a reform package ready in time for President Barack Obama's bipartisan meeting because the groundwork has already been laid.

As Focus Shifts To Jobs, The Uninsured Seek Solutions

As part of the series "Are You Covered, " which is a collaboration between NPR and Kaiser Health News, NPR's Debbie Elliott checks back in with Fernando Arriola, a contractor in New Orleans who can't get health coverage. He's adopted an unconventional approach to medical care and is now working to set up a clinic for the uninsured (Elliott, 2/9). Read entire story. In a related story, also part of the series, KHN staff writer Christopher Weaver provides a look at what Americans would fall into this category (Weaver, 2/9). Read the explainer. This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Today's OpEds: Prescriptions For Health Reform

Ten GOP Health Ideas For Obama The Wall Street Journal The best ideas out there are not those that were passed by the House and Senate last year, which consist of more spending, more regulations and more bureaucracy. If the president is serious about building a system that delivers more quality choices at lower cost for every American, here's where he should start (Newt Gingrich and John C. Goodman, 2/10). How Dems Can Win Health Reform Politico Congress could pass these ten reforms by a wide margin tomorrow. They won't achieve the left's statist ambitions, but they would provide meaningful reform (Rep. Bill Cassidy, 2/10). Obama's Health-Care Summit: Chicken Soup For The Legislative Soul The Washington Post I've been trying, because I'd truly like to see health reform pass, to find something nice to say about President Obama's plans for a summit.

Congress To Investigate 39 Percent Premium Hike By California's Anthem Blue Cross

San Francisco Chronicle : "Angry lawmakers turned up the heat on Anthem Blue Cross on Tuesday, calling for federal and state investigations into the California health insurer's decision to increase rates by as much as 39 percent for thousands of policyholders statewide." "The furor started last week when individual Anthem Blue Cross members -- those who are not covered under an employer or group policy -- received letters informing them that their monthly premiums would go up effective March 1. Anthem, a Woodland Hills (Los Angeles County) insurer owned by Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., has refused to disclose how many people are affected or how high rates will rise, but the company has about 800, 000 individual policyholders in California" (Colliver, 2/10).

Political Cartoon: 'Snowed In'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh perspective on health policy developments with "Snowed In" by Mike Keefe. This information was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.org. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Obama Invites Republicans To Share Ideas At Televised Health Reform Summit

The New York Times reports that the President's inivitation is for a half-day televised summit February 25. It is "a high-profile gambit that will allow Americans to watch as Democrats and Republicans try to break their political impasse." The move is seen as a way for Obama to force Republicans to help govern and to "put more scrutiny on Republican initiatives" on health care. There remains, however, a split among lawmakers - even among Democrats - on what should be in health reform legislation with even House and Senate Democrats differing on several key tenets, including inclusion or exclusion of a tax on high cost insurance policies (Zeleny, 2/7). The Washington Post : Republican leaders on Sunday welcomed "the outreach" but maintained their position that lawmakers must start over on the health reform effort to win Republican cooperation.

Today's OpEds: Recommendations To Democrats, Cutting Costs, 'Rationing' Health Care

Back To The Drawing Board Los Angeles Times Democrats may not attract any GOP support for comprehensive healthcare reform by stepping up efforts to limit the growth in healthcare costs. But they will make the benefits of the measure clearer to a skeptical public (2/8). Five Ideas For Getting Health Care Reform Back On Track USA Today The only reasons for delay are short-term and political. It's expedient to punt. But Democrats are delusional if they think they'll inoculate themselves against attacks this fall by backtracking. No one wins by trying and failing. Nor, in the long run, does anyone win by simply stonewalling in the midst of crisis, as the Republicans have done.

Faced With Stalled Overhaul, Dems Still Wonder Who To Blame

Congressional Democrats continue to divvy up blame for the stalled health overhaul, with fingers now pointed toward centrist Democrats and Republicans, President Barack Obama or even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, depending on the blamer's perspective. Roll Call : A group of progressive Democrats from both the House and Senate will meet Tuesday night to discuss their health overhaul strategy, including their hopes for resurrecting the so-called "public option, " which earlier lacked support in the Senate. "As for how to deal with Senate Republicans threatening to block any Democratic health care plan, [Rep. Raul Grijalva, R-Ariz., chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, ] said he will urge Senate progressives to 'let them filibuster.

GOP Wary Of Talks While Both Sides Express Low Expectations For Health Care Summit

News outlets are focusing on political reaction to President Obama's Feb. 25 bipartisan summit on health care reform. Los Angeles Times : Democrats are unfolding "a strategy to force Republicans to put policy ideas on the table that Democrats believe they can exploit in the fall elections. After a year of suffering GOP attacks on the president's plans for healthcare and the economy, the White House and congressional Democrats are gambling that voters will find Republican ideas to be even more unpopular." One of the Republican ideas includes a proposal for a long-term budget fix from "Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that would aim to eliminate the federal deficit by, among other things, partly privatizing Social Security and converting Medicare into a voucher program" (Oliphant and Levey, 2/8).

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