August 18th, 2009

August 18: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Obama’s Delay in Naming a Medicare Chief Baffles Many in Congress

President Obama has made health care his top priority. He says the cost of Medicare and Medicaid is "the biggest threat" to the nation's fiscal future. But to the puzzlement of Congress and health care experts around the country, Mr. Obama has not named anyone to lead the agency that runs the two giant programs…"The vacancy stands out like a sore thumb," said Dr. Denis A. Cortese, president of the Mayo Clinic, often cited by the White House as a health care model. "In effect," Dr. Cortese said, "Medicare is the nation's largest insurance company. The president and Congress function as the board of directors. "Under a strong administrator, it could take the lead in making major changes in the health care delivery system, so we'd get better outcomes and better service at lower cost."

 

NY Times, by Robert Pear, 8/18/2009

 

Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Washington Post

The Detroit News

 

Top stories

 

Public Option — Here or History?

CQ Politics
Aug. 18, 2009

 

Obama administration officials are insisting that the government-run public option in their health overhaul proposal is alive and well, despite remarks, comments and responses that hint otherwise.

 

Obama's Health Care Trade-Off
The Los Angeles Times
Aug. 18, 2009

 

By backing away from a public option, he increases the chances for his reform proposal overall.

 

Public Option Called Essential

The Washington Post

Aug. 18, 2009

Several leading Democrats voiced concern Monday about an apparent White House shift on health-care reform, objecting to signals from senior administration officials that they would abandon the idea of a government-run insurance plan if it lacked the backing to pass Congress.

White House Reassures Allies

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 18, 2009

 

The White House sought Monday to reassure allies that its enthusiasm for a government-sponsored insurance plan remains strong, following an uproar over comments by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Transparency/Safety

 

Diabetes Case Shows Pitfalls of Treatment Rules

The New York Times
Aug. 18, 2009

 

A guideline calling for aggressive control of blood sugar was withdrawn after a study suggested that such action could harm or even kill some patients.

 

Probing Doctors' Ties to Industry

The Washington Post

Aug. 18, 2009

 

A survey shows 94 percent of physicians have "a relationship" with the pharmaceutical, medical device or other related industries, which concerns some activists.

 

Medicare/Medicaid

 

Lack of Medicare Appointee Puzzles Congress

The New York Times

Aug. 18, 2009

 

To some, trying to remake the health care system without a Medicare administrator is like fighting a war without a general.  Includes comments from Dr. Cortese.

 

Medical Fraud Carries A Staggering Price Tag

NPR
Aug. 18, 2009

 

In the midst of the health care debate, there's a point of certainty. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives — would like to see health care fraud wiped out. But the big question is, how much money could be saved by eliminating fraud?

Reform efforts

 

Cooperatives Being Pushed as an Alternative to a Government Plan

The Washington Post

Aug. 18, 2009

As prospects fade for a public, or government-run, option as part of health-care reform, key senators are considering another model to create competition for private insurers: member-owned, nonprofit health cooperatives.

Alternate Plan as Health Option Muddies Debate

The New York Times
Aug. 17, 2009

 

The option of a co-op instead of a government health plan is so ill defined that no one knows exactly what it would look like or how effectively it would compete with commercial insurers.

 

Conrad Defends Health Co-ops Plan

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 18, 2009

 

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad defended his proposal for government-chartered insurance cooperatives, estimating they would start with 12 million members and be the third-largest player in the U.S. health-insurance market.

 

Checking In With Ascension Health, Largest Catholic Health System
Kaiser Health News
Aug. 18, 2009

 

An interview with the Chief Advocacy Officer and president and CEO of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic system and largest nonprofit provider in the United States, which runs 66 general hospitals, along with cancer centers, home health services, clinics and nursing homes. Last year, its bad debt from treating uninsured and under insured people grew by $167 million, or 23 percent.

 

Health Reform and the Great Recession: an RWJF Conversation With Stakeholders

Health Populi
Aug. 18, 2009

 

The recession in America impacts health care in many ways that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently explored in an off-the-record meeting including representatives from health care, the public sector, business, insurance, policy and research.  The results of this meeting are synthesized in an issue brief from RWJF, Impact of the Economy on Health Care; click here to read the brief.

 

Prescription drugs

 

Boehner Letter to PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin

Kaiser Health News
Aug. 18, 2009

 

Minority Leader John Boehner is taking issue with "the drug industry's decision to agree to $80 billion in concessions to the White House." In a letter to PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin, he said the agreement "was short-sighted, will hurt drug manufacturers and their customers, and 'has all the markings of a deal gone sour.'

 

Miscellaneous

 

Doctor Shortage Looms as Primary Care Loses Its Pull

USA Today
Aug. 18, 2009

 

Longer days, lower pay, less prestige, and more administrative headaches have turned doctors away in droves from family medicine. The number of U.S. medical school students going into primary care has dropped 51.8% since 1997.

 

 

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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