March 25th, 2010

March 25: Health Care Reform News

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InBusiness – Health Care Overhal

Jeff Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, talks with Bloomberg's Margaret Brennan about the likely impact of the U.S. health-care policy overhaul on the Mayo Clinic and other hospitals.

 

Bloomberg,  3/25/2010

 

Mayo Clinic HCR Mentions:

WXOW, USA TODAY, Post-Bulletin, FOX News, ModernMedicine AP, Post-Bulletin

 

 

Top stories

 

G.O.P. Forces New House Vote on Fixes to Health Bill

The New York Times
March 25, 2010

 

Republicans early on Thursday identified parliamentary problems that will require the measure to be sent back to the House.

Related:
Health Care Bill Headed Back to the House After Marathon Senate Push, The Hill

GOP Amendments to Health-Care Reconciliation Bill Fail, The Washington Post

 

Obama Returning to Iowa City to Pitch Benefits of Health-Care Law

The Washington Post
March 25, 2010

President Obama will return Thursday to the place where he first called for health-care legislation, aiming now to convince Americans of the benefits of the measure he just signed into law.

White House: Health Bill Will Hold Up in Court

Politico
March 25, 2010

 

White House officials say that the 14 state lawsuits challenging health reform on Constitutional grounds are legally baseless, politically motivated attacks that are bound to die quickly in court. But while professing confidence in their legal arguments, one senior administration official conceded Obama's lawyers 'can't presume to speculate' what will happen once the cases are thrown to courts dominated by GOP-appointed jurists, including the Supreme Court.

 

Mayo Clinic Response to Health Care Bill

WXOW La Crosse

March 24, 2010

 

WXOW La Crosse speaks with Jeff Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, about the health care bill signed by President Obama.

 

After Health Vote, Threats on Democrats

The New York Times

March 25, 2010

 

Democratic lawmakers have received death threats and been the victims of vandalism because of their votes in favor of the health care bill, lawmakers and law enforcement officials said Wednesday, as the Congressional debate over the issue headed toward a bitter and divisive conclusion.

 

Related:
Lawmakers Concerned as Health-Care Overhaul Foes Resort to Violence, The Washington Post

Democrats Fear for Their Families, Politico

 

Insurance

 

The Growing Financial Burden of Health Care: National and State Trends, 2001-2006

The Commonwealth Fund

March 25, 2010

 

The percentage of Americans facing high out-of-pocket health care expenses and insurance premiums continues to increase, according to a new Commonwealth Fund–supported study published online today by Health Affairs.

 

Coverage For Sick Kids Under Question In New Law

Kaiser Health News

March 24, 2010

 

While Democrats have said that the new health law would immediately stop insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing medical conditions, health advocates and some insurers say the law does not clearly state that such protection starts this year.

 

Some Will Remain Uninsured After Reform

Kaiser Health News

March 25, 2010

 

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the overhaul law, as it expected to be amended by House fixes, would eventually cover 32 million more Americans. But that would leave 23 million that would still be uninsured by 2019.

 

Grandfathering Means Many Employer Plans Won't Change

The Dallas Morning News

March 25, 2010

 

The landmark health care law approved this week was sold as an effort to reform unfair insurance practices, but it largely exempts the existing employer-based network from the overhaul.

 

Study: Retired Couple Will Need $250,000 for Health Care

USA Today
March 25, 2010

 

Relief to seniors facing high prescription drug costs is one of the first changes to come under the health care overhaul. But that won't offset the relentless increase in retirees' medical expenses.

 

Transparency/Safety

 

Modernizing Device Regulation

New England Journal of Medicine

March 24, 2010

 

The author argues that now is the time to institute a more comprehensive approach to the postapproval monitoring and analysis of the safety and effectiveness of medical devices.

 

Study Suggests Racial Disparities in Cancer Deaths Due to Location

USA Today
March 25, 2010

 

When white and black cancer patients receive similar care at specialized cancer centers, there is no significant difference in cancer death rates, a U.S. study has found.

 

Medical Scans Used Most in Atlanta, Least in Seattle

USA Today
March 25, 2010

 

There's a big gap between regions in Medicare patients' use of diagnostic imaging such as CT scans, MRIs and PET scans, a new study finds

 

Obamacare's Cost Scalpel

Business Week

March 25, 2010

 

How does the health-care overhaul propose to control spending? By evaluating treatments through comparative-effectiveness research.

 

Bigger Hospitals Do Better Job at Treating Heart Problems, Pneumonia, Study Suggests

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
March 24, 2010

 

People hospitalized with a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia fare better if they are admitted someplace that treats a lot of those problems, a large study of Medicare patients finds.

 

Wellness/Chronic Care

 

Experts: One-third of breast cancer is avoidable

The Washington Post
March 25, 2010

 

Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a breast cancer conference said Thursday - comments that could ignite heated discussions among victims and advocates.

 

State news

 

MN: Pawlenty Will Sign Health Bill for Poor

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

March 25, 2010

 

With just a week to spare before thousands of low-income Minnesotans were scheduled to lose state-sponsored health coverage, the Minnesota House voted Wednesday to approve a compromise measure that would extend the state's General Assistance Medical Care program.

 

Health mandate tests the reach of government

The Boston Globe

March 25, 2010

 

A flood of lawsuits from states seeking to block the health care law President Obama signed this week raises sharp questions about the power of the federal government to impose mandates on its citizens, but legal scholars disagree about how the cases will be decided if they are heard by the Supreme Court.

 

Reform efforts

 

Big Question: Will We Really Pay Less for Health Care?

USA Today

March 25, 2010

 

President Obama's restructuring of the nation's health care system will make it easier for poor and sick Americans to get and keep insurance. What's less clear is whether it will reduce health care costs for most Americans, as the White House says it will.

 

Obama Has Angered Women’s Groups by Reaffirming no Federal Funds for Abortion

The Washington Post

March 25, 2010

 

President Obama, who quietly signed an executive order Wednesday reaffirming that no federal funds can be used for abortion, is facing fury from a core part of his constituency: women's advocates.

 

Health Care Reform, Doctor Shortage, and the Importance of Market Forces

Modern Medicine
March 25, 2010

 

An interview with Tom Coburn, M.D., Republican Senator from Oklahoma

 

New Law Doubles Funds for Health Clinics (subscription required; full text below)
The Wall Street Journal
March 25, 2010

Federally funded health clinics are set to play an even larger role in the revamped health-care landscape, which expands Medicaid and other insurance coverage and sharply increases funding for the clinics.

New England Journal of Medicine
March 2010

 

Recent NEJM articles on reform include:

 

Historic Passage — Reform at Last, John K. Iglehart
The War Isn’t Over, Henry J. Aaron, Ph.D., and Robert D. Reischauer, Ph.D.

 

Miscellaneous

 

Fast-Track Health Degrees, for Those Willing to Pay the Price

USA Today

March 25, 2010

 

Months after purchasing the Penn Foster Education Group, a for-profit career training provider, the Princeton Review is entering the distance education market by teaming up with community colleges to offer fast-track allied health-care programs to students who are willing to pay higher tuition to bypass long waiting lists.

 

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New Law Doubles Funds for Health Clinics
The Wall Street Journal
March 25, 2010

Federally funded health clinics are set to play an even larger role in the revamped health-care landscape, which expands Medicaid and other insurance coverage and sharply increases funding for the clinics.

The clinics, whose number nearly doubled with the backing of President George W. Bush, are an anchor of primary care for many immigrants and residents of inner cities and rural areas. Patients walk in and are charged based on their ability to pay. The staff, who are salaried, have little incentive to order more tests and procedures to generate revenue.

The health-care overhaul that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday boosts funding by $10 billion over five years for the clinics, known as community health centers. An additional $2.5 billion is included in a package of changes to that bill, which is expected to get final approval in Congress as soon as this week.

The clinics currently receive about $2 billion of federal funds annually, and offer no-frills care such as basic blood and dental work to 20 million patients in hundreds of locations across the U.S. They are bursting at the seams, with long waiting lists for care at some urban clinics.

The National Association of Community Health Centers estimated the money in the bill would help the clinics treat an additional 20 million people. "It could be the future of primary health care in America," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who pushed for the funding, on Tuesday.

Some conservatives say the clinics constitute unfair competition for private practices, and are another example of excessive government control over health care. The extra funding for clinics is "another government-centered solution when we should be implementing patient-centered solutions," said John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.).

In 2006, roughly 43% of patients at the clinics were uninsured, with another 30% on Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, according to a study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers published in the journal Health Affairs.

The health-care law includes the biggest expansion of Medicaid since its founding. Because many doctors in private practice refuse to accept Medicaid, it is likely many new enrollees will end up at the clinics.

A George Washington University study showed the clinics save the government $24 billion a year. The study arrived at that figure by comparing the cost of care for people who use the clinics and those who don't. Some savings come from reducing emergency-room visits by people without urgent problems.

At many centers, demand far outstrips supply. "We could be open 24/7 and not serve all the people," said Alicia Wilson, who runs La Clinica del Pueblo just a few miles from Capitol Hill.

Her clinic offers dental, mental-health and primary-care services to 4,000 people a year. On a recent afternoon, a dozen patients waited in La Clinica's lobby under a large painting of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran priest slain in 1980, a nod to the capital's large Central American population.

Most of the clinic's patients are below the federal poverty level. Like other community health centers, La Clinica charges patients on a sliding scale. The poorest pay about $10 for a visit, and sometimes owe nothing.

Tonya Dixon, 57 years old, first started going to Community of Hope, another health clinic near Congress that also runs a homeless center, in 1990. She said she was addicted to drugs at the time, and doctors at the clinic helped her get clean.

She has been clean ever since, but goes back to the clinic weekly to get treated for chronic fatigue. The doctors have helped her sign up for Medicaid. When she learned last year her breast cancer had metastasized into her bones, the center helped her get treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Some of the funding for community health centers would also go toward paying for medical students' tuition as an incentive to get them to work in primary-care clinics.

Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.) said the clinics represent the "ultimate safety net" for the millions of people who will continue to be uninsured despite the health-care overhaul. That category includes illegal immigrants, a controversial topic in the health-care debate. Ms. Wilson said most of La Clinica's patients are Hispanic immigrants, and like other centers, it doesn't ask whether they are legal residents.

Congress sought to prevent illegal immigrants from benefiting by barring them from buying coverage on new insurance exchanges, even if they pay entirely with their own money. The extra funding for clinics means some illegal immigrants are likely to get help through the overhaul anyway.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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