August 25th, 2009

August 25: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Health Care Reform: Mayo Clinic earning praise

Five days into life with his new liver, Jeffrey Rowe was sore but looking forward to being discharged from Mayo Clinic Florida. Just one thing stood in his way: a biopsy to check whether his immune system was attacking his new organ. hcr-fl-times-union-09

 

No need, his doctor said.

 

Before nixing the procedure, transplant hepatologist Jaime Aranda-Michel met with 16 other Mayo staff members - including surgeons, physical therapists, dietitians and social workers - assigned to Rowe's case.

 

"If things improve, we don't have to" perform a biopsy, Aranda-Michel said. "It's not absolutely necessary."

 

If more hospitals operated this way - encouraging doctors to work together and paying them for the quality of care they provide rather than the quantity - health care in America would cost a lot less and produce better results, President Barack Obama says. He and other reform advocates have singled out the Mayo Clinic in recent months as a role model for other providers.

 

"We should ask why places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and other institutions can offer the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm," Obama said in a letter to key Senate leaders in June. "We need to learn from their successes and replicate those best practices across our country."

 

Florida's lower reimbursement rates largely account for the difference between the two sites. But overall, the lower bills are driven by keeping health care as efficient as possible, said Stephen Lange, head of Mayo Clinic Florida's clinical practice committee.

 

"What they pay for today is more tests, more procedures and more trips to the hospital," said Jeffrey Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center.

 

Florida Times-Union by Jeremy Cox, 08/25/2009

 

 

Top stories

 

Grassley Airs Doubts About Health Bill

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 25, 2009

 

Sen. Charles Grassley signaled growing skepticism about the likelihood of Democrat-led health-care legislation passing this year, telling a town-hall meeting here Monday, "Now is the time to do this right or not do it."

 

Dems Increase Talk of Moving Health Care Without GOP  

The Hill

Aug. 24, 2009

 

A leading House Democrat on Monday said Democrats are prepared to pass healthcare reform without Republican support, echoing comments made over the weekend by a leading Senate Democrat.

 

Insurance

 

Health Care Claim Costs Expected to Rise 10.5 Pct

AP/The Washington Post

Aug. 24, 2009

 

Costs for employer-provided health plans are expected to rise more than 10 percent within the next 12 months, a jump workers may feel in their paychecks or through changes to their insurance coverage.

 

Insurance Companies Look To Expand Services, Products for Consumers

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Aug. 23, 2009

Big, employer-paid health policies are still the bread and butter of the insurance industry, but that's not the growth segment it used to be. Today, the industry's forward-thinkers are focusing on "retail" -- pushing products, policies and health advice directly to the consumer, rather than the employer.

Transparency/Safety

 

Hospitals Own Up to Errors

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 25, 2009

 

Medical errors kill as many as 100,000 Americans each year. In an effort to improve this record, some hospitals are taking steps to admit their most grievous mistakes, and to learn from them in order to overhaul flawed procedures.

 

Related: Pitching Patient Safety and Hospital Transparency on YouTube, Wall Street Journal Health blog

 

At the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, a consultation service to help staffers communicate quickly with patients and families about safety incidents has led to a drop in the number of lawsuits against the hospital, with no increase in financial payouts, according to chief safety officer Timothy McDonald. As a result of the medical center’s experience, McDonald and a colleague, cardiac anesthesiologist Dave Mayer, are producing a series of patient safety videos to highlight process improvements following harmful patient events and disclosure. The article includes a video trailer for the first video.

 

Wellness/Chronic Care

 

With Health Care, Spending More Up Front Can Save In Long Term

The Oregonian

Aug. 24, 2009

 

If the United States wants to improve its health system, which is mediocre among those of other wealthy Western nations, many experts say it should start spending money the way Kaiser or Group Health does: dedicating more resources to primary care.

 

State news

 

Minnesotans Jam Lines to Join State Health Care Plan
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Aug. 25, 2009

Applications for MinnesotaCare, the state's insurance plan for the poor and working poor, have shot up 25 percent so far this year.

Reform efforts

 

Democrats Plan Hundreds of Reform Rallies

Politico
Aug. 24, 2009

 

Faced with a souring public mood on health care reform, Democrats and their supporters are launching a national grassroots push Wednesday to show lawmakers that the majority of Americans still support overhauling the system.

Group Aims at 8 Senators for ‘Public Option’

The New York Times

Aug. 25, 2009

An alliance of liberal advocacy groups is stepping up pressure on Democratic senators to declare their support for a government-backed health insurance plan, the so-called public option. The alliance hopes that by getting at least 50 senators on the record as supporting a public option, they can persuade other fence-sitters to jump to their side and push through a bill with a public option, even if only with Democratic support.

GOP Offers Health Rights for Seniors

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 25, 2009

Republicans are targeting older Americans worried about Obama's plans with a "seniors' health care bill of rights."

Related coverage: Parties Trade Volleys On Health-Care Reform, The Washington Post

 

Health Care Reform: Mayo Clinic Earning Praise

The Florida Times Union

Aug. 25, 2009

 

Mayo Clinic is touted as an example for quality care at lower cost.

 

Policy Experts Call Fear of Medical Rationing Unfounded

The New York Times

Aug. 24, 2009

 

Policy experts say people are rightly concerned about the nation’s health care costs. But they also say there is nothing in the current proposals in Washington to suggest that the country is likely to embark on a system of medical rationing anytime soon.

 

Major Players in Health Reform Debate

The Washington Post

 

The Post offers brief background information on various health care reform players and explains their roles in the health-care reform debate.

 

Obama Administration

 

Bioethicist Becomes a Lightning Rod for Criticism

The New York Times

Aug. 24, 2009

 

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, President Obama’s special health care adviser, has come to personify the most intense attacks on the president’s plan.

 

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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