October 22, 2009

October 22: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

The Public Option Comeback

The public option's renewed momentum is mostly the product of the raw ideological willfulness of the progressive left. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they're not about to let a once-in-a-generation opportunity pass without a fight, and they view the public option as a down payment on single-payer health care. They're right to think so; a public option will quickly blow up the private insurance market.


It's true that cost-shifting isn't dollar for dollar. Providers can absorb some underfunding by cutting services, such as by reducing hospital stays, or investing less in research, teaching and state-of-the-art care. Yet as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recently noted, given decades of such Medicare-related losses, "a concern is whether hospitals can constrain costs and still deliver high-quality care." For that reason the Mayo Clinic announced this month that some of its campuses will no longer accept Medicare patients.


Wall Street Journal - Opinion, 10/22/09


Top stories


Democrats Lose Big Test Vote on Health Legislation

The New York Times

Oct. 21, 2009


Democrats lost a big test vote on health care legislation on Wednesday as the Senate blocked action on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years.


Senate Keeps Medicare Payment Formula, The Washington Post

Vote on Medicare Payment Cuts Divides Democrats, The Wall Street Journal


Key Senators May Rebuff Obama on Health Care

AP/The Washington Post

Oct. 22, 2009

The Democrats' control of a hefty majority in the Senate - plus the House - would suggest that President Barack Obama is within reach of overhauling the nation's health care system this fall.

But the numbers mask a more complicated reality: Obama and Democratic leaders have modest leverage over several pivotal Senate Democrats who are more concerned about their next election or feel they have little to lose by opposing their party's hierarchy.

Leaders Confident on Health Bill Vote
Roll Call
Oct. 22, 2009


House Democratic leaders sounded bullish Wednesday after launching an all-hands-on-deck effort to win support for a “robust” public insurance option in their health care bill.


US Health Care Tab Would Grow Under Overhaul

AP/Google News
Oct. 21, 2009


The nation's medical costs will keep spiraling upward even faster than they are now under Democratic legislation pending in the House, a report from government economic experts concluded Wednesday. Related: Audit Shows Higher Spending Under House Health Bill Over 10 Years




House Panel Approves Bill Curbing Insurers’ Antitrust Exemption

The New York Times

Oct. 22, 2009


The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would curb the health insurance industry's limited exemption from federal antitrust laws and would allow Justice Department enforcement in the areas of price-fixing and market allocation.


Wellness/Chronic Care


Not Quite a House Call, But Not Far Off

The Chicago Tribune

Oct. 20, 2009


The "medical home" model is emerging in Illinois and across the country.


State news


New York: Paterson Administration Fears Cost of U.S. Health Care Overhaul

The New York Times

Oct. 21, 2009


The Paterson administration is raising alarms that health care legislation taking shape in Washington could drive up deficits and punish New York and other states that have expanded Medicaid coverage on their own. New York’s warning is almost certain to be echoed by governors across the country.


In Mass., Most Docs Support State's Health Mandate


Oct. 21, 2009


As Massachusetts enters its fourth year under a sweeping law that aims to get nearly everybody health insurance, there's new evidence on what one crucial constituency thinks about it: doctors. The first broad-based survey of how physicians feel about the Massachusetts experiment shows strong and deep support: 70 percent favor the law; three-quarters want to keep it. Related: Physicians’ Views of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law — A Poll, The New England Journal of Medicine


What Lessons Massachusetts Holds for US Healthcare Reform

The Christian Science Monitor
Oct. 21, 2009


A mandate on individuals to buy health insurance can work – just don’t expect it to reduce the cost of care. That, in a nutshell, may be the lesson from Massachusetts as Americans consider healthcare reform ideas backed by President Obama. Related: Massachusetts Health Care Reform — Near-Universal Coverage at What Cost?, The New England Journal of Medicine


Reform efforts


Americans Remain Divided Over Health Care Proposals, Polls Say

The New York Times
Oct. 22, 2009

Two new polls shed light on the divisions among Americans wrestling with questions raised by efforts to overhaul the health care system.

Reid, Pelosi Get Dose of Tough Medicine

Oct. 22, 2009


Public option — yes or no — has been at the heart of the debate on health reform all year, but Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were reminded Wednesday that the obstacles to getting a bill done are even bigger than that.


Health Policy Brief - Health Insurance Reforms

Health Affairs
Oct. 21, 2009

Health Affairs has just issued a new policy brief looking at the various bills in the House and Senate, and their potential impact on the insurance market. The document offers some useful historical context for the current debate and provides a straightforward look at the pros and cons of different aspects of the legislation.

New Focus on Maine's Other Centrist Republican Senator

The Washington Post

Oct. 22, 2009


Sen. Susan Collins, like her colleague Olympia Snowe a moderate Republican, says she has not made up her mind on how she will vote on health-care legislation, and the White House is hoping to win her over.


Pawlenty Reaches Out to Governors Over Health Care Reform

Oct. 21, 2009


Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty reached out Wednesday to his fellow governors throughout the country with his proposal for states to work together to allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines.


Health Care Reform Updates

The New England Journal of Medicine
Oct. 21, 2009


Articles posted recently in NEJM include:


Doctors, Patients, and the Need for Health Care Reform, Senator Max Baucus

Reform and the Health Care Workforce — Current Capacity, Future Demand, John K. Iglehart




Patterns: Number of Doctors Was Overstated, Study Finds

The New York Times

Oct. 21, 2009


Whether the nation faces a physician shortage is a matter of debate. But a new study suggests there are already fewer doctors practicing than had been estimated, because of a lag in reporting retirements.


Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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