October 23, 2009

October 23: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Repairing our health-care system

Two recent stories ["Mayo Clinic Faulted for Limiting Medicare Patients," Oct. 13, and "Is the Mayo Clinic a Model or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out," Sept. 20] included inaccurate information about regional spending variation in Medicare.


Sources in both stories inaccurately blame high spending in parts of the country on poor and diverse patient populations. A study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office show that these demographics account for less than half of the variation. The data found that the vast majority is due to over-utilization of services in high-spending areas. Providers are doing more tests and more procedures with the same or worse outcomes than lower-spending parts of the country.


Washington Post Letter to the Editor by Jeff Korsmo, 10/2009


Mayo initiative included in final health reform bill

Mayo Clinic's push to change how the government pays for health care scored a major victory on Thursday on Capitol Hill.


The final version of the House health reform bill that will head to the floor for a vote will include language that would change how providers are paid with a goal of rewarding quality instead of quantity…


Dr. Doug Wood, who chairs Mayo Clinic's division of Health Care Policy, praised the payment reform efforts. He did add that while this is a step in the right direction, more work is still needed…


Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., joined Walz and Mayo Clinic representatives on a press conference call. He said the goal is to make sure Mayo's recommendations get passed.


Post-Bulletin, by Heather Carlson, 10/22/09


Additional coverage:

Winona Daily News

Citizen Times




Nancy Pelosi Lacks Votes for Most Sweeping Public Option


October 23, 2009


Nancy Pelosi counted votes Thursday night and determined she could not pass a robust public option, the most aggressive of the three forms of a public option House Democrats have been considering.


Senate Leader Takes Risk Pushing Public Insurance Plan

The New York Times

October 23, 2009


In pushing to include a government-run health insurance plan in the health care bill, Senate majority leader, Harry Reid is taking a calculated gamble that the 60 members of his caucus could support the plan if it included a way for states to opt out.


Additional Coverage:

Offer to Let States Opt Out of Health Plan Gains Support- The Wall Street Journal

Lawmakers Warm to the Public Option - The Washington Post

The Public Option:  Where Things Stand - The New Republic

Reid Leaning Toward Public Option - Politico

Whip Count Shows Democrats Lack Votes on ‘Robust’ Public Option for Health Care - The Hill



Who Picks Up the Tab for Health Care Reform?

Business Week

October 23, 2009


Who will pay to cover the uninsured? It's safe to say doctors will give up the least, pharmaceutical and medical device makers will fall somewhere in the middle, and insurers will be the big losers.


Insurer’s Hope Third Time’s the Charm on Cost Reports


October 23, 2009


WellPoint is the third insurer to present a report warning of rising premiums, a repeat of the approach by AHIP and BlueCross BlueShield, whose reports making the same case were hotly contested by Democrats.


Full Report: Insurer’s Black Box

American Progress

October 23, 2009


A Center for American Progress Action Fund study examines insurers' claims' denials and finds that insurance companies are keeping denial rates secret.



’Fierce Urgency’ for Jobs Not Health Care

The Washington Examiner

October 23, 2009


In a new poll, the Gallup organization asked the following question: "If Congress is going to reform the health care system, should Congress deal with health care reform on a gradual basis over several years, or try to pass a comprehensive health care reform plan this year?" Just 38 percent of those surveyed want reform now, versus 58 percent who want reform on a gradual basis.


Hospital Collaborative Finds Sharing Data Saves Costs, Lives

Healthleaders Media

October 23, 2009

Hospitals participating in the first year of the Premier health care alliance's national collaborative, QUEST: High Performance Hospitals, saved an estimate 8,043 lives and $577 million by focusing on areas to improve health care.


CDC:  20% of Children Had Flu-Like Illness This Month, Most of it Probably Swine Flu

The Chicago Tribune

October 23, 2009


About 1 in 5 U.S. children had a flu-like illness earlier this month and most of those cases likely were swine flu, according to a new government health survey.



Georgia Lawmakers May Revisit State Health Care Insurance Mandates

Atlanta Journal Constitution

October 23, 2009


The door may be open to revisit state-mandated insurance coverage for certain medical tests and procedures when Georgia lawmakers reconvene in January.


Employers Struggle As coverage Costs Rise

The Miami Herald

October 23, 2009


Hammered by a persistent recession and health care expenses that continue to climb, South Florida's employers are responding in dramatically different ways from offering greater benefits at no cost to asking workers to pay up to 35% more for insurance.



Can Medicaid Absorb the Newly Uninsured?

Health Populi

October 23, 2009


Over one-quarter of a million jobs were lost in the U.S. in September 2009. Because unemployment quickly morphs into uninsurance, a question for the 263,000 workers and their families is: "Will Medicaid be able to cover me and my family if I cannot afford COBRA?"


Taxes and Medicare Could Kill the Economy

CNN Money

October 23, 2009


An extended interview with renegade supply-side economist Bruce Bartlett.  



In Massachusetts, Obama Won’t Promote State’s Plan

The Washington Post

October 23, 2009


President Obama’s trip to Massachusetts today will not include promotion of the states universal program. 


Debates Rage Over Public Option

USA Today

October 23, 2009

Supporters of the public option, including Obama, have argued it would increase competition and drive down costs. Those who oppose it, say it would compete unfairly and would force millions of Americans who are happy with their private insurance to sign up for a government-run plan.


How Drug-Industry Lobbyists Won On Health Care

Time Magazine

October 22, 2009


Henry Waxman's loss was a big victory for drug companies, which have spent more than any other segment of the medical industry to make sure that they come out winners in the effort to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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