September 10, 2009

September 9: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Obama may stump for health care in the Twin Cities

President Obama may be bringing his campaign to overhaul the nation's health care system to the Twin Cities this weekend.


Obama reportedly will be in Minnesota on Saturday, most likely to deliver a speech on health care reform at either the Target Center in Minneapolis or the Xcel Center in St. Paul…


Nonetheless, a Mayo official was scheduled to be in the audience tonight when Obama makes his case for health care reform before a joint session of Congress.


Jeffrey Korsmo of Mayo's Health Policy Center was invited to the speech by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., who represents the clinic.


Star Tribune by Bob Von Sternberg, 09/09/09


Additional coverage:




A foundation for health reform

Time to get serious about payment reform, disparities.


Especially from a Minnesota perspective, it's been one of the most frustrating disconnects in the national health care reform debate. President Obama and other key policymakers consistently lavish praise on quality medical providers like Minnesota's Mayo Clinic, Wisconsin's Marshfield Clinic and Ohio's well-known Cleveland Clinic. Yet there's been a disappointing lack of leadership from the president and senior congressional lawmakers when it comes to proposing specific changes to reward these medical centers instead of punishing them.


Star Tribune (Editorial), 09/09/09


Guest column: Everyone deserves the same health care I have

Everyone has a health-care story. You can't pass through a coffee shop or grocery store without hearing one, especially as Congress is poised to take action on health-care reform for the first time in more than a decade.

While I am currently a lawyer in private practice in Des Moines, my career has included a term as Iowa's attorney general, as well as many years of service in the federal government. I am a retired federal government employee, and I have my own health-care story… My husband is still alive because our health-insurance plan allowed him to participate in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic. The treatment he received allowed him to live many more active and positive years than what is normal under the usual treatment plan for his illness.


Des Moines Register by Bonnie Campbell, 09/09/09


Additional health care reform coverage:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch



Top stories


Democrats Promise to Send Health Plan to Obama
The New York Times
Sept. 9, 2009


Democratic Congressional leaders assured President Obama on Tuesday that they would deliver a health care overhaul to his desk this year as the author of a new compromise Senate plan said he was ready to push ahead with his legislation. Please note: the Baucus “Framework for Comprehensive Health Reform” is attached (PDF).


Obama to Endorse Public Plan in Speech

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 9, 2009


President Barack Obama, in a high-stakes speech Wednesday to Congress and the nation, will press for a government-run insurance option in a proposed overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that has divided lawmakers and voters for months.



Obama Speech Aims To Reenergize Effort, The Washington Post

Obama Tries to Build Momentum for Health Overhaul , AP/The New York Times

What to Watch for in Obama's Speech, The New York Times


Senate Leaders Race to Reach Health Deal

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 9, 2009

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), the committee's chairman, emerged from a meeting with a six-member bipartisan negotiating group saying he had given his colleagues until 10 a.m. Wednesday to provide feedback on a draft bill he presented them over the weekend. The group will meet again Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to come up with an agreement before Mr. Obama's address. Whether they succeed could determine whether Mr. Obama's speech or the bipartisan plan drives the debate in the weeks to come.

Gang of Six Could Hold Obama's Fate


Sept. 9, 2009


They’ll decide whether Obama has any hope of getting significant Republican votes for health reform.


Dodd to Stay as Banking Chair

Sept. 9, 2009

Sen. Christopher Dodd’s expected announcement that he will remain in charge of the Banking Committee should give a big boost to his longtime colleague Tom Harkin while setting off a shuffle on other Senate panels.  Dodd has played stand-in for the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) for most of this year on the pivotal Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) panel during the health reform debate, raising questions about which role he might decide to play full-time after Kennedy’s death.




The Health Care Insecurity Index

The Third Way
Sept.9,  2009

This one-pager summarizes a report on four sources of health care insecurity for working-age Americans.


Wellness/Chronic Care


Chronic Conditions Crank up Health Costs

USA Today

Sept. 9, 2009


Nearly half of Americans have a chronic condition, and 75% of the $2.6 trillion spent annually on healthcare goes to treat patients with long-term health problems, says Kenneth Thorpe, a professor at Atlanta's Emory University and head of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. In the Medicare program, 95% of spending is linked to a chronic disease.


State news


Mission Not Yet Accomplished? Massachusetts Contemplates Major Moves On Cost Containment

Health Affairs
Sept. 9, 2009


There is growing concern in Massachusetts that rising health care costs will derail the state’s move to universal health coverage. A special state panel has recommended moving from fee-for-service to a new system of global payments as the best way to reduce unnecessary care and expenses, while improving the health of patients. The commission points to specific examples in the state where global payments seem to be working. But other providers are pushing back.




Democrats Target Federal Subsidies for Medicare's Private Plans

Kaiser Health New
Sept. 9, 2009


Medicare Advantage plans, the private plans that cover more than one in five seniors nationwide, are caught in reform's cross hairs.


Study Estimates Hospital Penalties Generate Few Savings for Medicare

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 9, 2009


The government won't save much from Medicare's year-old policy of refusing to pay hospitals' extra costs to treat hospital-acquired infections and injuries such as bedsores, a new study concludes.


Reform efforts


Pelosi's Trump Card: the Public Option


Sept. 9, 2009


Dems to Obama: Take the public option out of health care reform, and you may not have a bill at all.


Hoyer Says Public Plan Could Be Dropped

The New York Times

Sept. 9, 2009


The No. 2 Democrat in the House reaffirmed Tuesday that the proposal for a government-run insurance plan could be dropped from the major health care legislation under consideration in Congress, seeming again to contradict Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


Overhaul's Contours Are Starting to Take Shape
The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 9, 2009


Although committees have presented conflicting proposals, It Is becoming more clear what a bill will contain.


Despite Fears, Health Care Overhaul Is Moving Ahead

The New York Times
Sept. 9, 2009


A news analysis from Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “While the month of August clearly knocked the White House back on its heels, as Congressional town hall-style meetings exposed Americans' unease with an overhaul, the uproar does not seem to have greatly altered public opinion or substantially weakened Democrats' resolve.”


Bill Clinton, Then and Now: The Esquire Interview


Sept. 9, 2009

In a sprawling discussion of his past and our common future, the former president compares his administration's early years with Obama's and talks about what he believes — in health care and next year's midterms — is about to happen.

In Illinois, a Similar Fight Tested a Future President
The Washington Post
Sept. 9, 2009

Obama's 2004 state health-care reform bill was a practice run, testing his skills as a legislator and leader and his powers of persuasion.

Bristling at Health Plan to Cover Early Retirees
The New York Times
Sept. 9, 2009

Critics of organized labor are criticizing a provision in health care reform proposals circulating in Congress: an offer of catastrophic health insurance for retirees 55 to 64 would tide them over until they could get Medicare.

Bending the Cost Curve: New Health Affairs Issue and Briefing
Health Affairs
Sept.9, 2009

If the growth rate in U.S. health care spending continues at current levels, a vastly greater share of personal income and economic resources will be devoted to health care, according to a new analysis in the September/October issue of Health Affairs.

The Phoenix Group Assesses Impact of Bundled Fees
Fierce Healthcare
Sept. 8, 2009

A think tank made up of hospitalist groups has released a white paper suggesting some changes to the emerging bundled payment model for episodes of care. Generally speaking, they're arguing for CMS to wait until there's some real-world evidence on what works with bundled payment before rolling into reform. Click here to read the group’s white paper.


Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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