August 20, 2009

August 20: Health Care Reform Roundup

By Kelley Luckstein

Paging Dr. Reform

Reading the transcripts of President Obama's "town hall meetings" this month on heath-care reform is painful. He's preaching the right gospel, but the parishioners are getting restless. The harder he tries to sell his program, the louder and angrier the debate gets -- and the more the general public tunes out the politicians.


I have a nomination for the medical commander role, and it won't surprise anyone who follows this issue: Dr. Denis Cortese, the chief executive of the Mayo Clinic. He's already doing what the nation needs -- that is, providing high-quality health care at relatively low cost. Every time I listen to Cortese explain what's wrong with the system, I have the same reaction: Let him and other smart health professionals lead us out of the political morass.


Talking to Cortese this week, I heard two themes that cut to the heart of the debate. First, he thinks Obama has made a mistake in moving toward the narrower goal of "health insurance reform" when what the country truly needs is health system reform. Imposing a mandate for universal insurance will only make things worse if we don't change the process so that it becomes more efficient and less costly. The system we have is gradually bankrupting the country; expanding that system without changing the internal dynamics is folly.


Washington Post by David Ignatius, 08/20/09

 Andrea Mitchell interviews David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post who mentions Dr. Denis Cortese.Additional Mayo Clinic Health Care Reform Coverage:

 MSNBC, 8/20/09


Taking Note – Blog

Reno Hayek - Blog


FOX News

Star Tribune


Top stories


Senator Calls for Narrower Measure

The Washington Post
Aug. 20, 2009


Sen. Charles E. Grassley, a key Republican negotiator in bipartisan healthcare reform, said that the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings has fundamentally altered the nature of the debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort.


Democrats Prepare to Push Health Care Without GOP

AP/The Washington Post

Aug. 20, 2009


President Barack Obama is still talking compromise on a comprehensive health care bill to extend coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it and contain rising costs. Privately, Democrats are preparing a one-party push, which they feel is all but inevitable.




House Democrats Request Detailed Records From Industry Opposed to Health Legislation

Chicago Tribune
Aug. 19, 2009


A spokesman for the health insurance industry accused Democrats of mounting a "fishing expedition" on Wednesday, as individual insurers decided whether to honor a request for financial records sought in a House committee's investigation.


Paying the Price: How Health Insurance Premiums Are Eating Up Middle-Class Incomes--State Health Insurance Premium Trends and the Potential of National Reform

The Commonwealth Fund
Aug. 20, 2009


The new data brief finds that the increase in employer-based premiums for family coverage from 2003 to 2008 averaged 33 percent, ranging from a high of 45 percent in Indiana and North Carolina to an average low of 25 percent in Michigan, Texas, and Ohio. By 2008, average family premium costs were highest in Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire—topping out at more than $13,500. Idaho, Iowa, and Hawaii had the lowest average family premiums, around $11,000.


Study Warns Of Risk To Retirees' Health-Care Benefits

Medical News Today

Aug. 20, 2009


A nearly two-decade trend that is stripping away employer-provided health-care benefits for retirees in private business will likely continue and could soon hit an even deeper pool of government retirees, new research by a University of Illinois elder law expert warns.




18 Medication Management Measures Released by National Quality Forum

HealthLeaders Media
Aug. 20, 2009


The National Quality Forum has endorsed 18 measures for managing over-the-counter and prescription medications. The new measures, which are among the first to be endorsed for medication management, assess prescribing and use of appropriate medications and medication adherence, reconciliation, and monitoring for a variety clinical conditions.


Many Hospitalized Patients Leave Facilities Against Medical Advice

HealthLeaders Media

Aug. 20, 2009


A report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 39% more patients left their hospital beds against medical advice in 2007 compared with 10 years earlier.  Click here to read the report.


State news


Tim Pawlenty: Voters 'Ticked Off and Scared'


Aug. 20, 2009

Minnesota GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty, best known among Republicans for his fiscal record, has discovered a policy niche that is beginning to pay dividends for his prospective 2012 presidential bid: health care.

Utah Health Exchange 'Open for Business'

Salt Lake Tribune
Aug. 20, 2009

On Wednesday, Gov. Gary Herbert declared the Utah Health Exchange "open for business." The state-run Web site will permit participating small businesses to offer employees a health care stipend, which workers can use to shop on the site and select the health insurance plans that best fits their lives.

Reform efforts


Obama Calls Health Plan a ‘Moral Obligation’
The New York Times
Aug. 20, 2009


As President Obama sought to reframe the healthcare debate as "a core ethical and moral obligation," he implored a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.


Health Care as a ‘Moral Imperative’
CQ Politics
Aug. 19, 2009


A group of religious leaders launches a health care blitz Wednesday that will be highlighted by television ads, sermons and a nationwide “call-in” to the White House that will stress the “moral imperative” to extend affordable coverage to the nation’s uninsured.


Related coverage:
Faith Groups Launch Campaign in Favor of Health Care Reform, CNN


New Rx for Health Plan: Split Bill

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 20, 2009


The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes


Cost Control Not Coverage is the Key to Health Reform
The Financial Times
Aug. 19, 2009


An opinion piece by Mort Zuckerman, chairman and editor in chief of US News & World Report.


Building a Bridge from Fragmentation to Accountability — The Prometheus Payment Model

New England Journal of Medicine
Aug. 19, 2009


Francois de Brantes, Meredith B. Rosenthal, Ph.D., and Michael Painter, M.D.  write that “In the current debate over health care reform, many observers are proposing new delivery structures to move U.S. health care away from fragmentation, poor performance and dysfunction toward accountability for high-value care," but for "such structures to be sustainable," the "payment system must reward professionals for the quality and efficiency of services, rather than the quantity."


Reform, Regulation, and Research — An Interview with Gail Wilensky

New England Journal of Medicine

Aug. 19, 2009

Interview with Gail Wilensky, Ph.D., an economist who served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, first as the administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (forerunner to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and later as White House health policy advisor. She served as the first chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission was an advisor to Senator John McCain (R-AZ). She is a senior fellow at Project HOPE.

Kennedy, Looking Ahead, Urges that Senate Seat be Filled Quickly
The Boston Globe
Aug. 20, 2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.

Prescription drugs


How to Save $290 Billion in Health Care in America? Improve Medication Adherence

Health Populi
Aug. 20


13% of the $2.4 trillion U.S. health economy could be saved by improving adherence to medication, according to an analysis from the New England Healthcare Institute.


Health Information Technology


Biden to Announce Almost $1.2B for Medical Records

The Washington Post

Aug. 20, 2009


Vice President Joe Biden plans to announce Thursday nearly $1.2 billion in grants to help hospitals transition to electronic medical records.


Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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