September 29th, 2009

September 29: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Health care comparisons help show best practices, prices

James Hendron's knees got so bad about two years ago he would break out in a sweat after climbing a flight of stairs. When he took a walk, his family would have to stop and wait for him to catch up

After talking with his doctors, the California resident decided to have both his knees replaced. Without knowing it, Hendron, 52, benefited from one of the most controversial aspects of the health care debate: comparative effectiveness research.

Hendron's hospital, which is part of the Kaiser Permanente network, has collected data on more than 75,000 joint replacement surgeries to identify procedures that work best. Doctors rely on the information to guide decisions about what types of joints to use and the best way to hold them in place.

"It's hard to argue with the idea of information supporting decision-making," said Jed Weissberg, a senior vice president at Kaiser. "It simply informs the discussions."

Private medical groups, including Kaiser and the Mayo Clinic, have been comparing procedures for years. Kaiser's study, for instance, resolved a question over the best way to hold joint implants in place. Some manufacturers recommended a basic cement, others a hybrid cement and others no cement at all.

USA Today by John Fritze, 09/28/09

Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Denver Post

Top stories

Road Map: Reid, Obama Weigh Fate of Public Option (full text attached)

Roll Call
Sept. 29, 2009

Is the public insurance option alive or dead?

It kind of depends on whom you talk to these days. Some Senators say they can't vote for any bill without it. Just as many say they can't vote for anything with it.

Schumer Reshapes Odds for Public Plan

The Hill

Sept. 29, 2009

Sen. Charles Schumer has revived the prospect of a public insurance option in the Senate's version of healthcare reform

Public Option May Have New Life

Politico

Sept. 29, 2009

The public option limped out of August, battered and left to die in the Senate.  But its supporters are working hard this week to bring it back, against the odds, with a series of high-profile votes in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Baucus Must Strike A Balance With Three Factions To Pass His Bill

Kaiser Health News

Sept. 29, 2009

As the Finance Committee resumes work today on Chairman Max Baucus' major health care bill, the Senate appears to be dividing into three important camps: those who are solidly behind Baucus, those reluctantly leaning in his direction and a handful of wild cards who will wield great influence.

Showdowns Set on Two Key Issues in Healthcare Debate

The Los Angeles Times

Sept. 29, 2009

Congressional Democrats this week will push toward showdowns on two of the toughest issues in the healthcare debate: whether to create a government alternative to private insurance, and how to pay the approximately $1-trillion cost of the overhaul.

Transparency/Safety

In Delivering Care, More Isn't Always Better, Experts Say

The Washington Post

Sept. 29, 2009

Medical professionals say the fundamental problem in the nation's health-care system is the widespread misuse and overuse of tests, treatments and drugs that drive up prices, have little value to patients, and can pose serious risks. The question, they say, is not whether there will be rationing, but rather what will be rationed, and when and how.

Health Care Comparisons Help Show Best Practices, Prices
USA Today
Sept. 29, 2009

As part of the effort to change the nation's $2.6 trillion health care system, President Obama has proposed expanding comparative effectiveness research as a way to lower costs. The idea has prompted warnings from Conservatives for Patients' Rights and other conservative groups that say it could lead to rationing of care.

State news

In Some States, a Push to Ban Mandate on Insurance
The New York Times

Sept. 29, 2009

In more than a dozen statehouses across the country, a small but growing group of lawmakers is pressing for state constitutional amendments that would outlaw a crucial element of the health care plans under discussion in Washington: the requirement that nearly everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty. With a focus on efforts in Minnesota.

Medicare/Medicaid

Majority Leader Protects Home State

The New York Times

Sept. 29, 2009

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has secured a special deal protecting his state against the costs of expanding Medicaid under one of the major health care bills moving through Congress.

Reform efforts

Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care

The New York Times
Sept. 29, 2009

Abortion opponents in Congress are seeking to block people who might receive federal subsidies for health insurance from using the money on plans that cover abortion.

Republican Govs. Blast Baucus bill

The Hill
Sept. 29, 2009

A group of Republican governors are working together in a coordinated attack on Sen. Max Baucus's healthcare reform legislation.

Public Plan Debate Could Pit Democrat vs. Democrat

AP/The Washington Post
Sept. 29, 2009

The Finance showdown is expected to pit Democrat against Democrat.

Survey: Support for Health Care Plan Hits New Low

Rasmussen Reports
Sept. 28, 2009

 Just 41% of voters nationwide now favor the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That's down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured.

 Frist: An Individual Mandate for Health Insurance Would Benefit All

US News & World Report

Sept. 28, 2009

 Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and the former U.S. Senate majority leader, says it is time for an individual health insurance mandate for a minimum level of health coverage.

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