September 22, 2009

September 21: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Is the Mayo Clinic a Model Or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out

The Mayo Clinic looms out of the prairie here like the mecca it has become, a world-renowned medical complex that is often cited by President Obama as his model for national heath-care reform. "Look at what the Mayo Clinic is able to do. It's got the best quality and the lowest cost of just about any system in the country," Obama said in Minneapolis this month. "So what we want to do is we want to help the whole country learn from what Mayo is doing. . . . That will save everybody money."


The Washington Post by Alec MacGillis and Rob Stein,


Additional coverage:


Healthcare Repair

Healthcare International


The case for improving health-care quality

Ask a waiting room full of Americans to describe their idea of quality health care and, chances are, the transcript would read like an episode of "House, M.D."


The TV doctor could care less about his patients, but who cares? Dr. Gregory House is brilliant, ordering obscure tests and procedures until he diagnoses the mystery illness.


The Congressional Budget Office estimates Americans spend as much as $700 billion each year on visits, procedures and medications

 that are unnecessary.


Is there a better way?


Yes, according to the experts who participated last Wednesday in The Arizona Republic's second virtual town hall on health-care reform. They are Dr. John Swagert, chief executive of Mountain Park Health Center, a group of community health clinics; Dr. David Mulligan, transplant-surgery division director at Mayo Clinic Hospital; and Dr. Bob Beauchamp, senior medical director for United HealthCare, one of the state's largest private insurers.


The Arizona Republic by Joanna Allhands, 09/22/09



Minn. group to examine German health care system

Minnesota health experts head to Germany this week to examine a medical system where everyone has insurance and private health plans operate under government supervision.


The 13-member delegation includes state Human Services Commissioner Cal Ludeman, legislators and officials from the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, Planned Parenthood and AARP.


The group will meet with German health care regulators and insurers. They will also visit a for-profit hospital. The trip runs Tuesday through Sunday. It's organized by the University of Minnesota's Center for German and European Studies.


KTTC, 09/20/09


Top stories


Is the Mayo Clinic a Model Or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out.

The Washington Post
Sept. 20, 2009

Few dispute the prowess of Mayo, which brings in $9 billion in revenue a year and hosts 250 surgeries a day. But a battle is underway among health-care experts and lawmakers over whether its success can be so easily replicated. Before embracing a fundamentally new approach to health care, dissenting experts and lawmakers say, Congress should scrutinize the assumption that a Mayo-type model is the answer.

For President, Five Programs, One Message

The New York Times
Sept. 20, 2009


Coverage of President Obama’s Sunday talk-show appearances.


In Broadcast Blitz, Obama Calls for 'Civil' Tone on Health Care, The Washington Post

Obama Insists That Insurance Will Be Affordable, The New York Times

Senate Jockeying Begins on Baucus Bill
Sept. 19, 2009

Members of the Senate Finance Committee filed more than 500 amendments to Chairman Max Baucus’s health care reform bill, setting the stage for a markup next week that will lay bare differences between the parties on overhauling the health care system.

Shepherding a Bill With 564 Amendments, The New York Times

Click here to link to the amendments.



For Federal Workers, Insurance Plan Offers Many Choices

Kaiser Health News/NPR

Sept. 21, 2009

Profile of Rhonda Dorsey and her daughter Toni, 13, who feel lucky to have health care coverage that helps to pay for Toni's diabetes medicine. Dorsey gets her insurance as a federal employee through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (Shapiro). Related content includes an explanation of federal employees’ health benefits and an audio slide show.

State news


In Massachusetts: A model Many Are Watching

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Sept. 20, 2009


Massachusetts, which in 2006 mandated coverage for all, is an experiment in reform.




Cantwell and Klobuchar to President: Medicare Reform Must Reward Value, not Volume

Hometown Source
Sept. 17, 2009


On Friday, Sept. 18, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) along with 26 other Senators called on President Obama to realign Medicare spending in order to provide greater value to beneficiaries and lower costs. The bipartisan letter focuses on the many benefits of instituting a Medicare “value index,” which would reward health care providers for the quality of care they deliver, not the quantity of services they provide. Text of the letter appears in the press release.


Medicare Bills High at Los Angeles Hospitals

The Los Angeles Times
Sept. 21, 2009


Medicare spending on chronically ill Los Angeles County patients in the last two years of life is nearly double the national average. Such cost disparities figure in the push for healthcare overhaul.


Amid Health Reform, Massive Medicare Agency is Still Headless

The Hill

Sept. 20, 2009


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will mark its third anniversary next month since the massive agency had a Senate-confirmed leader.


Reform efforts


What Baucus Got Right

The Atlantic

Sept. 18, 2009


Liberal critics of the proposal Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) released this week see it as a dead end in the health care reform debate. But if President Obama actually signs legislation revamping the health care system, it's more likely that the Baucus plan eventually will be seen as the foundation.


Holtz-Eakin Provides Ammo to Fight Baucus Health Bill

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 19, 2009

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the top economic adviser to Sen. John McCain during his presidential campaign, delivered a memo to Republican senators that is certain to provide ammunition to fight the Baucus health overhaul plan.

Proposing a Public Health Option as a ‘Safety Net’

The New York Times
Sept. 19, 2009


Senator Olympia Snowe, a pivotal Republican, described on Saturday the changes she wanted to see in a comprehensive health care bill to make insurance more affordable, and she proposed a government insurance company as a possible backup to the private market if coverage remains too costly.


Toughest Test Coming Up for Health Care Overhaul

AP/The Boston Globe
Sept. 21, 2009


Keep going. You don't have to fix all of it now. Just please don't let it stall. That's the essence of the message that Senate Democratic leaders have for their Finance Committee senators, who plan to start voting Tuesday on a remake of the nation's health care system.


Democrats Squabble Over Who Will Pay Health-Care Bill

Sept. 20, 2009


It shouldn’t shock anyone that the health care fight has boiled down to a clash over money — or, more particularly, who pays for what? The problem is that Democrats don’t see eye to eye on who’ll foot the bill, setting up yet another battle inside the party over the final shape of the legislation.


A Proposed Tax on the Cadillac Health Insurance Plans May Also Hit the Chevys

The New York Times
Sept. 21, 2009

Although cast as a tax on gold-plated insurance policies for the well-heeled, it has prompted anxiety among the middle class.

Tax on 'Cadillac' Plans Draws Flak

The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 21, 2009

Labor unions and some Democrats are pushing to scale back a proposal in the latest version of Senate health-overhaul legislation that would tax generous insurance plans.

Checking In With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Kaiser Health News

Sept. 21, 2009


An interview with Sen. Ron Wyden.




Hospitals Watch Provena Covenant Medical Center's Battle With the Illinois Department of Revenue

The Chicago Tribune

Sept. 21, 2009


Illinois' highest court on Wednesday will consider how much charity care a nonprofit hospital must provide to earn its property tax exemption.



Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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