October 21st, 2009

October 21: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

The Dartmouth Atlas Study: EM’s Bitter Pill

According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, care for people with chronic disease now accounts for more than 75% of ALL health care spending. One third of Medicare spending each year is spent on patients with chronic diseases who are in the last two years of their lives. And most of these patients have CHF, chronic lung disease, or cancer. Moreover, if Medicare spending is not reined in, it is expected to double over the next decade, reaching $4 trillion by 2017…

 

The key to improvement, according to the Dartmouth Group, lies in emulating the systems that are efficient. The group claims that if Medicare was benchmarked to the efficiency of the Mayo Clinic, the nation would save $50 billion over four years in Medicare expenditures alone.

 

Emergency Physicians Monthly by Mark Plaster, M.D., 10/2009

 

 

Top stories

 

Senate Democrats Hit Snag With Doctor Payment Bill

The New York Times
Oct. 20, 2009

 

Senate Democrats backed down from their effort to increase Medicare payments to doctors without offsetting any of the cost over the next 10 years.

 

House Democrats' Desired Health Bill Would Cost $871 Billion

The Washington Post

Oct. 21, 2009

 

House leaders have cut the cost of their health-care overhaul to around $871 billion over the next decade, Democratic sources said Tuesday night, and were working to line up votes for the package with the aim of bringing it before the full House early next month.

 

Liberals Increase Pressure for Public Insurance Plan in Health Bill

The Washington Post

Oct. 20, 2009

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid is facing intensifying pressure from liberal lawmakers to revive a proposed government insurance plan before health-care reform legislation reaches the Senate floor, amid signs that moderate Democrats may be warming to the idea.

 

Pelosi Pushes Strong Public Option

Politico

Oct. 20, 2009

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats Tuesday night that she wants to move forward with the more liberal version of a House health reform bill that would peg government-run coverage to Medicare – setting up a clash with moderates in her caucus who oppose the plan. Related: House Dems Want Medicare for Everyone, The Hill

U.S. Health Care Reform Looks Anemic

The Economist/The Star Tribune

Oct. 19, 2009

 

The health bill that this week moved a big step closer to President Obama's desk fails -- not completely, but very largely -- to address the government-exploding problem of cost inflation.

 

Wellness/Chronic Care

 

In Shift, Cancer Society Has Concerns on Screenings

The New York Times

Oct. 20, 2009

 

The American Cancer Society says screenings can come with a risk of overtreating many small cancers while missing cancers that are deadly.

 

Reform efforts

 

Dems Eye Insurance Industry's Antitrust Protection

The Washington Post

Oct. 21, 2009

 

Top Senate Democrats intend to try to strip the health insurance industry of its exemption from federal antitrust laws, according to congressional officials. It's the latest evidence of a deepening struggle over President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the health care industry.

 

Dr. John Kitzhaber's Unorthodox Ideas On Reforming Health Care

Kaiser Health News
Oct. 21, 2009

 

A Q&A with Dr. John Kitzhaber, former governor of Oregon.

 

New Malpractice Idea in Health Care Debate

AP/Yahoo News
Oct. 20, 2009

 

President Barack Obama's willingness to consider alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits is providing a boost for taking such cases out of the courtroom and letting experts, not juries, decide their merits.

 

Lawmakers to Fight for Rural Hospitals Despite Budget Concerns On Reform

Kaiser Health News

Oct. 19, 2009

 

Several senators - including Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D. - want to help rural hospitals in their states get the funding boost that comes with the "critical access" designation. The catch: The same senators are among those pushing hardest to hold the line on the cost of health care reform.

 

Who Will Rein in Healthcare Costs? Don’t Look to Congress

The Christian Science Monitor
Oct. 20, 2009

 

The issue of controlling healthcare costs is so contentious that Congress may opt for a bill that punts much of the task to an independent commission.

 

Obama Takes a Health Care Hiatus

The New York Times

Oct. 20, 2009

 

As Congressional leaders and White House officials huddle behind closed doors to settle their differences on health care legislation, one of the most powerful voices in the debate — President Obama’s — has grown noticeably quieter.

 

Poll: Americans Skittish Over Health Changes

USA Today
Oct. 21, 2009

 

Americans are increasingly worried about the cost and quality of medical care that could result from President Obama's effort to revamp health care, but a majority still trust him more than Republicans to change the system, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

 

Ill-Conceived Ranking Makes for Unhealthy Debate
The Wall Street Journal
Oct. 21, 2009

During the health-care debate, one damning statistic keeps popping up in newspaper columns and letters, on cable television and in politicians' statements: The U.S. ranks 37th in the world in health care. The trouble is, the ranking is dated and flawed, and has contributed to misconceptions about the quality of the U.S. medical system.

Employers

 

Insurance Exchanges Called Key to Health Care Puzzle

San Francisco Chronicle
Oct. 21, 2009

Supporters of health care reform told senators Tuesday that insurance exchanges are a critical part of proposed health care legislation for small businesses, which are cutting jobs and coverage to keep up with insurance costs.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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