October 27, 2009

October 27: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

primary-care1Primary concern: Fewer family doctors

Forgiving loans could draw med students to primary care and curb a projected shortage. It's one small piece of health care reform, but it's a big deal for medical schools and doctor's offices: forgiving the student loans of doctors who choose primary care.


With fewer medical school students choosing the lower-paying fields of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, lawmakers and others say something has to be done to attract them. Helping students repay their loans could help fill a shortage of general physicians that one report estimates could reach 44,000 by 2025.


"The financial burden drives very responsible people to make decisions that may not be in our state and country's best interest," said Dr. Patricia Simmons, a member of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents and a professor at the Mayo Clinic.


Star Tribune, by Jenna Ross, 10/27/09


Mayo Clinic fees may be different

Many lawmakers and health-care analysts applaud the Mayo Clinic for its innovations, namely a century-old model of care that is shown to produce better results and skimpier Medicare bills.


But recent changes at Mayo's three primary branches, including its 396-acre Jacksonville campus, have fueled criticism that Mayo's low costs are the result of cherry-picking a wealthier, less-diverse crop of patients. Studies show that low patient incomes are a predictor of high Medicare costs…


"We can't do everything for everybody," said Bill Rupp, Mayo Clinic Florida's CEO. "We have chosen that the things we do really well are these tertiary kinds of things, treating these really complex problems."


Florida Times-Union by Jeremy Cox, 10/27/09



Top stories


Public Option Push in Senate Comes With Escape Hatch

The New York Times

Oct. 26, 2009


Senator Harry Reid said Monday that he would include a government-run insurance plan in the Senate’s legislation, but that states could opt out.


Related coverage:
Reid Says Bill Will Include a Public Option, The Washington Post

Reid Says Senate Bill Will Have Public Plan, The Wall Street Journal

Despite White House worries, Harry Reid Rolls Dice, Politico


AARP: Reform Advocate and Insurance Salesman

The Washington Post

Oct. 27, 2009

The nation's preeminent seniors group, AARP, has put the weight of its 40 million members behind health-care reform, saying many of the proposals will lower costs and increase the quality of care for older Americans. But not advertised in this lobbying campaign have been the group's substantial earnings from insurance royalties and the potential benefits that could come its way from many of the reform proposals.



Seniors Squeezed as Doctors Shun Medicare

Oct. 27, 2009


A look at the concerns of physicians at Kansas City Internal Medicine, the city's largest private group practice with about 65 percent of its nearly 70,000 active patients age 65 or older.


Medicare Costs Key to Healthcare Reform

US News and World Report

Oct. 26, 2009


About 45 million elderly or disabled people get their health insurance from Medicare. In 2008, it cost the government about $450 billion. The figure is growing rapidly, consuming ever larger chunks of the federal budget, something Congress desperately wants to fix as part of healthcare reform. But as events last week showed, Congress so far isn't up to the task.


Reform efforts


Unions Win Concessions But Fight On

The Hill

Oct. 26, 2009


Organized labor is flexing its muscle in Senate negotiations over healthcare reform and winning important concessions from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).


Obama Economic Advisor Touts 'Cadillac Tax' as No. 1 Cost Saver
ABC News

Oct. 27, 2009

President Obama's chief economic forecaster went to bat on Monday for a tax on high-priced insurance plans, the so-called "Cadillac tax," calling it "probably the number one item that health economists across the ideological spectrum believe is likely to stem the explosion of health-care costs."

Primary Concern: Fewer Family Doctors
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Oct. 27, 2009

It's one small piece of health care reform, but it's a big deal for medical schools and doctor's offices: forgiving the student loans of doctors who choose primary care. Helping students repay their loans could help fill a shortage of general physicians that one report estimates could reach 44,000 by 2025.

Lawmakers, White House Consider Bipartisan Route To Bend Health 'Cost Curve'
Kaiser Health News
Oct. 27, 2009

Amid growing signs that health care overhaul legislation will do little to "bend the cost curve" in the coming decade, lawmakers and administration officials are considering tougher steps to rein in costly entitlement programs and address mounting concerns about soaring deficits. One approach attracting widespread attention calls for the creation of a bipartisan commission to draft proposals to control the long-term costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.


Innovations in Delivering Health Care

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 27, 2009


A six-part report on innovations in health-care delivery. Stories include:

·          Hospitals See Benefits of eICUs With critical-care specialists in short supply, remote monitoring offers a high-tech solution to the vexing problem facing a growing number of hospitals.

·          Compare and Contrast When doctors receive a public report card, the resulting competition can serve patients well. Features results from clinics that have been evaluated by Minnesota HealthScores.

·          VA Hospitals as Digital Pioneer As health-care providers gear up for a digital overhaul, they could learn important lessons from an early innovator in the field—veterans hospitals.

·          Ten Steps to Preventing Infection in Hospitals A combination of new technologies and proven techniques can ensure that patients don't get sick in health-care facilities.

·          As Easy as 1-2-3? Checklists can reduce infections dramatically. The trick is getting doctors and nurses to use them.

·          The Family Plan For some newborn ICUs, parents aren't just visitors. They are a crucial member of the medical team.

Health Information Technology


Grassley Has a Few Questions for the Health IT Industry

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 26, 2009


Chuck Grassley — the Senator who spent years asking questions about doctors’ ties to the drug and device industries — has some questions for the health IT industry.


Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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