August 26, 2009

August 26: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo Clinic refutes 'death panel' fears

The Economist magazine dubbed Mayo Clinic one of the nation’s most influential voices in the health care reform debate. President Obama has cited the Rochester medical center in many speeches.


So it’s good to see Mayo weigh in during August’s sound-and-fury season of town hall meetings on one of the most controversial reform proposals — Medicare funding for advance directives on end-of-life care. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley helped incite discredited fears that this would lead to so-called "death panels’’ that would pull the plug on the elderly and disabled.


Mayo’s latest policy perspective, released Tuesday, reiterates the organization’s advocacy for payment reform and individual mandates, as well as its staunch opposition to a public plan based on a government-run, price-controlled, Medicare-like insurance model.


Star Tribune Opinion by Jill Burcum, 08/25/2009


Additional Mayo Clinic Health Care Reform Coverage:

NY Times

San Francisco Chronicle

Kaiser Health News



Top stories


Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies

The New York Times

Aug. 26, 2009


Senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of the longest serving members of the Senate and a central figure in the current healthcare reform debate, died Tuesday night.


Additional coverage:
Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy Dies at 77 After Cancer Battle, The Washington Post

Sen. Edward Kennedy Dies After Battle With Cancer, The Wall Street Journal

Kennedy Dead at 77, The Boston Globe

Edward Kennedy, Senate's Liberal Lion, Dies, NPR


Deficit Projected To Soar With New Programs

The Washington Post

Aug. 26, 2009


The nation would be forced to borrow more than $9 trillion to support President Obama's initiatives and other federal programs over the next decade, the White House said Tuesday, a sharp increase in projected deficits that provided fresh ammunition to critics of the president's sweeping proposal to expand health coverage to the uninsured.


Estimate for 10-Year Deficit Raised to $9 Trillion, The New York Times
Aug. 26, 2009


The White House's grim new budget projections, released Tuesday, show a decade-worth of deficits tallying $9.05 trillion, $2 trillion deeper than anticipated in February. Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, said "the key driver of our long-term deficits" is federal health spending, mainly on the ballooning Medicare and Medicaid programs. 


Related: Baucus Says Deficit Projection Demands Action on Health Care, Roll Call
Higher Deficits Complicate Healthcare Push, The Hill




Competition Lacking Among Private Health Insurers

AP/Google News

Aug. 26, 2009


One of the most widely accepted arguments against a government medical plan for the middle class is that it would quash competition — just what private insurers seem to be doing themselves in many parts of the U.S.


Aetna Chief Says Public Plan a Distraction

The New York Times
Aug. 26, 2009

Ron Williams, chief executive of the giant insurer Aetna, has been the most vocal insurance executive in favor of an overhaul of the health care system — as long as it does not include a public, government-run health plan. On Wednesday, Mr. Williams plans to make that case on the “Tavis Smiley Show” on PBS. Click here to link to the PBS interview.

Health Plan Cost Trend Will Increase Over 13% in 2010, 4x the Annual American Worker's Wage Increase

Health Populi

Aug. 26, 2009


Health Populi’s analysis of the 2010 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey.


State news


$47 Million Says Minnesotans Can be Healthier

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Aug. 26, 2009

Minnesota will announce $47 million in grants to 40 communities to fight smoking and obesity today, the first fruits of a landmark 2008 bill designed to revamp and improve health care in the state.

California: Healthy San Francisco Rates High in Satisfaction

San Francisco Chronicle
Aug. 26, 2009


As debate over federally funded healthcare coverage rages across the country, a survey found that San Francisco's universal healthcare scheme gets high marks from participants.




Waxman Takes on Drug Makers Over Medicare

The New York Times

Aug. 26, 2009


A congressman’s plan to save Medicare billions could cost the drug industry.


Reform efforts


Real Choice? It’s Off Limits in Health Bills

The New York Times

Aug. 25, 2009


In our current system, medical costs are hidden to many Americans, making more radical insurance change seem risky to many.  With a discussion of the Wyden-Bennett bill.


Congress’s Health Care Numbers Don’t Add Up

The New York Times – opinion

Aug. 25, 2009


The Congressional Budget Office’s cautious methods may have unintended consequences in the current health care reform effort.


Americans Doubt Healthcare Reform Will Improve Quality, Cost

HealthLeaders Media

Aug. 25, 2009


Most Americans are satisfied with the status quo for their own healthcare and are doubtful that reforming the system will create affordable or better quality medical care, according to a Thomson Reuters study.


Sen. Enzi Plays Crucial Role Negotiating Health Care

Aug. 26, 2009


Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) represents the smallest state in population but he has a big role to play in the negotiations to overhaul health care. Enzi is one of the "gang of six" senators crafting the Senate's health care bill. He says he won't vote for any measure that can't get the support of 75 to 80 senators.  Related: Enzi Frustrates Liberals With Harder Line, The Hill.

Senate GOP’s Doctors Launching Health Care Road Show
Roll Call
Aug. 26, 2009

Anchored by two GOP Members who are also medical doctors — Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) — House and Senate Republicans are joining forces beginning Wednesday and ending Friday to hold four town hall meetings and tour local medical facilities.


World’s Best Health Care

The New York Times - editorial

Aug. 26, 2009


Though politicians routinely state that health care reform will destroy the nation’s medical system, there is no evidence to support this claim.


Why Obamacare Is Failing
The Washington Post – op ed

Aug. 26, 2009


It's not poor communications or town-hall crazies. It's a basic Obama miscalculation.


Checking In With T.R. Reid: 'It Doesn't Have To Be Single Payer'

Kaiser Health News

Aug. 26, 2009


A Q&A with journalist and author T.R. Reid, who traveled the world, including Britain, in search of a better health care system -- and help for his sore shoulder. Reid talks about his journey in a new book -- The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.



Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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