February 15th, 2010

February 15: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Health care for poor may get ax

The DFL-controlled Legislature is on the brink of extending a state program that would pay health care costs for about 85,000 of Minnesota's poorest and sickest residents over the next 16 months.

 

 The question is whether Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty will sign this stripped-down version of General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), the program he vetoed last year…

 

Mayo Clinic had opposed the bill when it included a surcharge on hospitals, but said Friday it now supports the measure.

 

Star Tribune by Warren Wolfe 2/15/2010

 

Top stories

 

White House Formally Invites Republicans to Health-Care Summit
The Washington Post

Feb. 13, 2010

 

The White House formally invited Republicans on Friday to attend a healthcare summit Feb. 25, calling it "the next step" in the process of reforming the country's health insurance system and pledging to post the text of a reform proposal online before the gathering.

 

Failure of Health Care Overhaul Will Add More Woes

AP/The Washington Post
Feb. 13, 2010

 

There's no doubting the consequences if lawmakers fail to address the problems of costs, coverage and quality: surging insurance premiums, more working families without coverage, bigger out-of-pocket bills, a Medicare prescription gap that grows wider and deeper, and government programs that pay when people get sick but do little to keep them healthy.

 

Insurance

 

Insurer Delays Increase for California Customers

The New York Times

Feb. 14, 2010

 

Under pressure from both the federal and California state government, Anthem Blue Cross delayed a double-digit rate increase by two months but expressed confidence that its new premiums would pass state scrutiny.

 

Transparency/Safety

 

Results Unproven, Robotic Surgery Wins Converts

The New York Times
Feb. 14, 2010

 

Robot-assisted prostate cancer surgery makes sense in some ways, but it is not clear if its outcomes are better.

 

Aging: Hospital Type May Play Role in Decision on Feeding Tubes

The New York Times

Feb. 12, 2010

 

A new study found that large hospitals and for-profit hospitals were more likely to use feeding tubes in caring for nursing home residents with advanced dementia. The findings suggest that such decisions are more likely to be based on hospital practices than on the wishes of patients and their families.

 

Hospital-Clean Hands, Without All the Scrubbing

The New York Times

Feb. 13, 2010

 

In the battle against harmful germs, researchers are studying room-temperature plasma gases as the next great disinfectant.

 

State news

 

MA: Spending on the Insured Rises
The Boston Globe
Feb. 13, 2010

 

In just three years, medical spending on privately insured Massachusetts residents grew more than 15%, fueled in large part by outpatient care in expensive hospitals, according to three reports examining the state's climbing.

 

With Health-Care Reform Stalled, Debate Heats Up Regarding State Approaches

The Washington Post

Feb. 13, 2010

 

Proponents of leaving health-care reform to the states have gained momentum as national legislation stalls in Congress, setting off a new debate over who is best able to tackle one of the nation's thorniest social issues.

 

Let Health Insurance Cross State Lines, Some Say

The New York Times
Feb. 13, 2010

 

Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that health insurance should be sold across state lines.

 

Reform efforts

 

Republicans Spurn Once-Favored Health Mandate

NPR
Feb. 15, 2010

 

For Republicans, the idea of requiring every American to have health insurance is one of the most abhorrent provisions of the Democrats' health overhaul bills. But the last time Congress debated a health overhaul, when Bill Clinton was president, several senators who now oppose the so-called individual mandate actually supported a bill that would have required it.

 

Employers

 

Rising Health Insurance Costs Hit Small Employers Too

The Los Angeles Times
Feb. 15, 2010

 

Federal and state officials are scrutinizing Anthem Blue Cross' planned rate hikes of up to 39% for individual insurance customers. (The insurer announced Saturday that it would delay the increases until May 1.) But the financial hardship has been similarly tough for small businesses that offer health coverage to workers. Many small businesses have seen rate increases of as much as 30% over the last year, insurance brokers say.

 

Health Information Technology

 

Beyond Meaningful Use

HealthLeaders Media

Feb. 4, 2010

Better outcomes require better data. Technology can help the healthcare industry achieve better outcomes and cost savings, but only if providers incorporate decision-support tools and a coordinated approach to delivering care.

Miscellaneous

 

Expecting a Surge in U.S. Medical Schools

The New York Times
Feb. 15, .2010

 

Seeking to address an imbalance in U.S. medicine, nearly two dozen medical schools have opened or are set to open.

 

Language and Cultural Barriers Hurting Patient Care, Say Physicians

HealthLeaders Media

Feb. 15. 2010

 

Nearly half of U.S. physicians say language or other cultural barriers are obstacles to providing high-quality patient care, according to a study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Forty-eight percent of all physicians in 2008 reported difficulties communicating with patients because of language or cultural barriers, and said they considered the situation at least a minor problem affecting their ability to provide high-quality care.

 

Tags: health care reform, Health IT, Health Policy

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