September 23, 2009

September 23: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo says Medicare changes needed in Obama plan

President Obama's speeches on reforming America's health care system frequently invoke Mayo Clinic as a model for the rest of the nation to emulate, but the Mayo Clinic doesn't support Obama's plan as it currently stands.


Mayo contends that there can't be any real reform unless Medicare starts rewarding systems that provide quality health care at reasonable prices.


When Mayo Clinic agrees to treat a Medicare patient, it starts losing money. Medicare is the federal government's health insurance program for those with disabilities and those aged 65 and over. It will cover you regardless of your income or health problems.


Peter Amadio, an orthopedic surgeon and member of Mayo Clinic's Health Policy Center, said for each Medicare patient Mayo treats, the federal government pays about 70 cents of every dollar the treatment costs.


MPR by Elizabeth Stawicki,09/22/09


Washington Post’s Mayo Clinic critique should run in local papers

It was like two hospital ships passing in the night.


On Sunday, the Star Tribune published reporter Chen May Yee’s 1,300-word examination of Massachusetts’ health insurance mandate, similar to a proposal President Obama supports and Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacks.


The same day, the Washington Post ran a 2,300-word demystification of Minnesota’s holiest of medical holies, headlined “Is the Mayo Clinic a Model Or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out.”


Both stories demonstrated ambition — the financially troubled Strib unleashing its travel budget for a national story, and the Post pointedly questioning an institution that has taken a forceful health care reform lobbying role.


MinnPost by David Brauer, 09/22/09


Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform coverage:

Health Affairs Blog

Huffington Post

Health Beat Blog – Maggie Mahar

Blue Ridge Now


Top stories


Parties Clash on Long-Awaited Day for Health Bill

The New York Times
Sept. 22, 2009


As the Senate Finance Committee took up legislation, Democrats expressed confidence Tuesday that their effort to remake the nation’s health care system was gaining momentum. But Republicans sharpened their attacks on a requirement that most Americans carry insurance, a central element of the bill.


Related coverage:

Lines Drawn as Senate Panel Begins Debating Health Bill, The Washington Post

GOP Assails Health-Plan Mandate, The Wall Street Journal

Health-Care Markup is Just the Beginning, Politico


Live Blogging the Senate Finance Markup

The Washington Post
Sept. 23, 2009


The Post's Alec MacGillis provides a cheat sheet for all the action coming out of the markup of Chariman Baucus's proposal.




Biden Says Rising Health Premiums Show Need for Overhaul
The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 22, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden said new data showing health-insurance premiums rising faster in every state than wages or inflation highlight the need for health-care legislation. The administration released a report Tuesday with new figures showing the growth in premiums state-by-state over the last decade. Click here to read the report.

Five Faces of the Uninsured

USA Today
Sept. 23, 2009


Short profiles of five people without health insurance.




New Democrat Coalition Letter to Waxman, Dems on the Energy and Commerce Committee (attached)
Sept. 23, 2009


Attached is a letter that was sent today from the members of the House New Democrat Coalition to Chairman Waxman and the Democratic Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The letter begins:


As the leadership of the House New Democrat Coalition, we urge you to support an amendment on comparative effectiveness research that will be offered by Rep. Donna Christensen (VI) when the Energy and Commerce Committee resumes its markup of H.R. 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.


State news


Minnesota Scores Big Win With New Medicare Language in Health Care Bill

Sept. 22, 2009


In a huge win for Minnesota, the health care reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee now includes language that will fundamentally change how Medicare payments are made in order to reward states that provide high-quality, low-cost care.




Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Provisions: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act & America’s Healthy Future Act

Kaiser Family Foundation
Sept. 22, 2009


This brief compares the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provisions in the House Tri-Committee, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act and the Senate Finance America’s Healthy Future Act to current law.  It also looks at key differences in the proposals involving Medicaid coverage, maintenance of eligibility, Medicaid Financing, benefits and access, and CHIP.



Budget Chief Contradicts Obama on Medicare Costs
Sept. 2, 2009

The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators Tuesday that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans would see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.

Report: Health Insurance Reform and Medicare: Making Medicare Stronger for America's Seniors

Sept. 23, 2009


This seven-page administration report has been released in conjunction with Vice President Biden’s visit to a retirement community in Silver Spring, Md., where, per the White House, he will deliver remarks and hold a discussion on health insurance reform with seniors. The Vice President will be joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle. Members of the media and the public may view this event via live webcast at


Reform efforts


PBS Special Report: Health Care Reform


Sept. 23, 2009


The PBS programs NOW on PBS, Tavis Smiley and Nightly Business Report are collaborating to provide an in-depth look at health care reform in America, and the most recent government proposals to address the issue. The 90-minute special will air September 24, 9:00-10:30 pm ET (check local listings).


Democrats Question Baucus's $80B Deal With Drug Makers

The Washington Post

Sept. 23, 2009

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) faced an early test of his leadership Wednesday after fellow Democrats challenged the $80 billion deal he struck with drug makers to help pay for health-care reform.

Related coverage:

Finance Dems Rough Up WH-Pharma Deal, Politico

Democrats Spar Among Themselves Over PhRMA Deal, The New York Times


Baucus Bill Doesn't Bend Cost Curve Enough, Experts Say

Kaiser Health News
Sept. 23, 2009


"President Barack Obama and his congressional allies such as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have repeatedly vowed to 'bend the curve' on health care costs, and Baucus' new bill makes good on some of those promises." But, according to many health care experts and budget hawks, "the legislation doesn't go far enough in taming long-term costs in the nation's $2.5 trillion health care system.


Medical Malpractice System Breeds More Waste

The New York Times
Sept. 23, 2009

The direct costs of malpractice lawsuits — jury awards, settlements and the like — are such a minuscule part of health spending that they barely merit discussion, economists say. But that doesn’t mean the malpractice system is working. The fear of lawsuits among doctors does seem to lead to a noticeable amount of wasteful treatment – up to about 3 percent of overall medical spending.

Pelosi Backs Away From Deal with Blue Dogs

The Hill
Sept. 23, 2009


Speaker Pelosi is backing away from a deal she cut with centrists to advance health reform, said a source familiar with talks. Pelosi’s decision to move away from the agreement that was made with a group of Blue Dogs to get the bill out of committee would steer the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote.


Doctors On Salary, One Key To Mayo's Success


Sept. 22, 2009


During the health care debate, President Obama and others have evoked the venerated name of Mayo. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has been singled out as a top flight provider of health care and a program which also manages to keep costs down. President of the Mayo Clinic Dr. Denis Cortese talks with Linda Wertheimer about the key to the clinic's success.

Doctors Join Together, Unveil New Print Ad Urging Action on Health Care Reform

Doctors Support Reform
Sept. 23, 2009


Today doctors' groups representing more than 500,000 physicians nationwide announced they have come together in a new effort urging Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform. In the unprecedented joint endeavor, an array of prominent doctors' organizations has signed on to a print ad that will run in Roll Call's print and online editions this week.




For French, U.S. Health Debate Hard To Imagine

The Washington Post
Sept. 23, 2009


France has long been proud of its national health insurance, part of a many-tentacled and costly social protection system designed to embrace almost everyone who is legally in the country. But the fast-rising cost of drugs and medical care, particularly for the elderly in their final days, has raised the question of how long France can afford the health care it has come to expect. Seeking to beat back rising deficits, the government has reduced the reimbursement rate for many medicines and routine medical services, opening a growing market for private insurance policies, called mutuals, to cover the steadily increasing co-payments.


Health Care Around the Globe

USA Today
Sept. 23, 2009


A look at how other developed countries provide and pay for health care compared with the U.S. system, based on the most recent information available.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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