November 30th, 2009

November 30: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Top hospitals dispute cost rankings

Leaders of Maryland's renowned teaching hospitals are feeling vulnerable as the push for a health care overhaul focuses attention on the tremendous differences in hospital costs around the country…

 

Mayo Clinic, No. 2 behind Hopkins in U.S. News & World Report's hospital ranking, does well in Dartmouth's analyses. One of its hospitals, St. Marys in Rochester, Minn., gets just over $53,000 per chronically ill Medicare patient over the last two years of life…

 

The Mayo Clinic has also been active in the health care debate - pushing for changes in payments. Dr. Raymond J. Gibbons, a Mayo cardiologist and professor of medicine, said he doesn't see it as big hospitals versus small ones, or urban versus rural. Instead, he said, he'd like Medicare to give everyone incentives to deliver excellent preventive care.

 

Baltimore Sun, by Kelly Brewington, 11/29/09

 

Top stories

 

Senate Debate on Health Bill Set to Begin Today
The Wall Street Journal
Nov. 29, 2009

 

The Senate is set to begin debate on its health-overhaul bill, with Democrats and Republicans planning to offer amendments on divisive subjects such as abortion and taxes that could hamper passage of the bill.

 

Dems Seek Deal as Sen. Debate Begins

Politico
Nov. 29, 2009

 

After months of buildup, the historic debate on health care reform opens on the Senate floor Monday - but the C-SPAN cameras won't see the real action. The next phase in the Democrats' health care push will be waged in the privacy of the Senate leadership office, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will attempt to do something that has eluded him all year: negotiate a compromise on the public insurance option that can garner 60 votes and win over a public still leery of reform.

 

In Health-Care Reform, No Deficit Cure

The Washington Post

Nov. 30, 2009

 

As the long battle over health care is rejoined in the Senate this week, experts remain deeply divided over whether the legislation would rein in soaring health-care costs or simply add millions of people to a system that is already driving the nation toward bankruptcy.

 

A Modest Public Plan

The New York Times

Nov. 29, 2009

 

The New York Times argues that even a weak public plan would be better than no public plan because it would expand the choices available to millions of Americans.

 

Transparency/Safety

 

10 Years After To Err is Human: Are Hospitals Safer?

HealthLeaders Media

Nov. 30, 2009

 

Are we really better today at preventing mistakes and safeguarding our systems from causing harm than we were 10 years ago?

 

Pay-for-performance Results Lower When Productivity is the Focus

HealthLeaders Media

Nov. 30, 2009

 

Physician pay-for-performance programs are gaining popularity across the country as ways to promote better healthcare quality. But a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that not all programs operate with the same goals and that the ultimate success of the programs depends on how the rewards are actually used.

 

State news

 

Mass: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caritas Christi in Pact

The Boston Globe
Nov. 28, 2009

 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Boston-based Caritas Christi Health Care, a chain of six community hospitals in eastern Massachusetts, announced they have signed a new five-year "alternative quality contract." The contract includes a global payment system in which hospitals will be paid fixed amounts based on the estimated annual costs of patients' care instead of the fee-for-service system in which providers bill insurers for individual visits and procedures. It also includes incentives to improve the quality and affordability of care.

 

Texas: Baylor Embracing a New Health Care Approach
The Dallas Morning News

Nov. 29, 2009

 

North Texas health industry leaders will gather for a meeting to see if they can shake Dallas out of its declining health and soaring medical spending. One option they'll hear about, called an accountable-care organization, attacks those problems by pushing family doctors, hospitals, surgeons, and other specialists to work together using evidence-based medicine and even sharing payments. Baylor Health Care System is already embracing such an approach and says it will convert its 13 hospitals and 4,500 network physicians into an accountable-care organization by 2015.

 

Tenn: Medical Mart Deal for Downtown Nashville Announced

The Tennessean
Nov. 30, 2009

 

Gov. Phil Bredesen has announced an agreement to develop a Nashville Medical Trade Center on the site of the city's current convention center.

 

Medicare/Medicaid

 

Medicare Drug Plan Will Cost 11% More

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Nov. 30, 2009

 

The average monthly premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan will increase 11% next year - and it has increased 50% nationally since 2006.

 

Reform efforts

 

Turbulence Ahead: Senate Opens Health Care Debate

AP/Google

Nov. 29, 2009

With the Senate set to begin debate Monday on health care overhaul, the all-hands-on-deck Democratic coalition that allowed the bill to advance is fracturing already. Yet majority Democrats will need 60 votes again to finish.

Even If Health Bill Passes Soon, Wait for Reforms Could Be Long

The Washington Post

Nov. 29, 2009

 

Measured against the promises President Obama and congressional Democrats have made about healthcare reform, the bill the Senate begins debating this week could be setting Americans up for disappointment.

 

MIT Analysis Backs Obama

Politico
Nov. 29, 2009

 

A new analysis by a leading MIT economist provides new ammunition for Democrats as the Senate begins formally debating the historic health-reform bill being pushed by President Barack Obama.

 

Former Oregon Gov. Says Key To Health Care Is Costs

NPR
Nov. 30, 2009

 

John Kitzhaber, a former Democratic governor of Oregon who is once again running for office, holds firm to the message that costs are the key to reform.

 

Key Players to Watch in Senate Health Care Debate

USA Today
Nov. 30, 2009

 

As the Senate begins debate this week on a 10 year, $848 billion health care bill, a few lawmakers are positioned to exert enormous influence over President Obama's top priority as the legislation moves toward its final stages.  They include members of both parties, newcomers to Capitol Hill and old hands.

 

Seven Issues to Watch as the Senate Begins Amending the Health Care Bill

The Hill

Nov. 29, 2009

 

Senators will be asked to cast their votes on numerous amendments as they begin a debate to reshape the country’s health care system.

 

Prescription drugs

 

Brand 'Biologics' Retain Edge in Bills

The Wall Street Journal
Nov. 28, 2009

Makers of the complex drugs known as biologics are near a victory in Congress that would slow the development of generic-drug competitors, but supporters of generics are gearing up for a last-ditch fight.

Employers

 

Health Care Savings Could Start in the Cafeteria

The New York Times

Nov. 29, 2009

 

A start-up company is aiming to help companies lower medical costs by offering employees healthier diets.

 

 

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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