December 23, 2009

December 23: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo Clinic speaks out against state DFL health proposal

Mayo Clinic says it could lose $11 million under a proposal by Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature to save a health care program for the poor.


Clinic lobbyist Frank Iossi said the proposal by state lawmakers would more than double a Medical Assistance surcharge that hospitals pay the state. Mayo Clinic and Mayo Health System pay $11 million a year and the increase could push that past $22 million annually…


"It definitely is not going to be good for us. In fact, Mayo might be the largest loser in this because Mayo is the largest out state provider," he said.


Post-Bulletin, by Heather Carlson, 12/22/09


Additional coverage:




Protesting Pawlenty Plan

People across the state are rallying against Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.


They're upset at the possibility Pawlenty's unallotment could cost more than 30-thousand Minnesotans their health care coverage. 


A small group of protestors, outside of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, say they want people to know if the Governor's unallotment process is allowed to proceed, 33-thousand Minnesotans could lose their General Assistance Medical Coverage.


KAAL, by David Springer, 12/22/09



Weighing Medical Costs of End-of-Life Care

The Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, one of the nation’s most highly regarded academic hospitals, has earned a reputation as a place where doctors will go to virtually any length and expense to try to save a patient’s life…


By some estimates, the country could save $700 billion a year if hospitals like U.C.L.A. behaved more like Mayo.


High medical bills for Medicare patients’ final year of life account for about a quarter of the program’s total spending. Under the House health care legislation pending in Congress, the Institute of Medicine would conduct a study of the regional variations in Medicare spending to try to determine how to reward hospitals like Mayo for providing more cost-effective care. Hospitals identified as high-cost centers might even be penalized, perhaps receiving lower payments from the government.


NY Times, by Reed Abelson, 12/22/09



Book Excerpt: Health Care Reform That Makes Sense

In an edited excerpt from his new book, Health Care Reform That Makes Sense, Universal Health Services CEO Alan B. Miller makes the case for the U.S. health care system...


There is no question that the current health care system has flaws. Essentially what we have is a vehicle that stalls periodically and has a rear tire slowly losing air…


We have the finest medicine in the world, with the finest doctors and the finest schools. If you take a look at international medical tourism—people with means and the ability to be discerning—you'll see an influx of foreigners taking advantage of our world-class medical services. Heads of state from the Arab nations on down the line go to the Mayo Clinic…


BusinessWeek, by Alan B. Miller, 12/21/09





Health Fight Shifts to Insurer Shopping

The Boston Globe

December 23, 2009


The public option is gone. Expansion of Medicare is dead. But an intense fight continues over a crucial issue in the proposed health care overhaul: how far Congress should go in emulating the type of insurance marketplace that is at the center of the pioneering Massachusetts insurance program.


State Probing Senate Health Care Deal

The Houston Chronicle

December 23, 2009


The top prosecutors in seven states are probing the constitutionality of a political deal that cut a funding break for Nebraska in order to pass a federal health care reform bill, South Carolina's attorney general said Tuesday.


Pain Before Gain in Health Care Overhaul

The Philadelphia Inquirer

December 23, 2009


The costs of health care reform being pushed through Congress by Democrats will be felt long before the benefits including proposed taxes and fees on upper-income earners, insurers, and Medicare cuts.


Senate Health Care Bill May be Hard to Reconcile with Houses

The Los Angeles Times

December 23, 2009


As the Senate lumbers toward passage of its health care bill, Democrats are looking ahead to the potentially difficult process of reconciling its substantial differences with the more liberal House version.




Senate Health Care Bill Creates New Insurance Program


December 23, 2009


A new government insurance program that would help the elderly and disabled stay in their homes is headed for passage in the Senate's sweeping health care revamp despite doubts about its viability and cost.




U.S. Voters Oppose Health Care Plan By Wide Margin, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds


December 23, 2009


As the Senate prepares to vote on health care reform, American voters "mostly disapprove" of the plan 53 - 36 percent and disapprove 56 - 38 percent of President Barack Obama's handling of the health care issue.




Weighing Medical Costs of End-of-Life Care - (Mayo Clinic referenced)

The New York Times

December 23, 2009


By some estimates, the country could save $700 billion a year if hospitals like U.C.L.A. behaved more like Mayo. High medical bills for Medicare patients’ final year of life account for about a quarter of the program’s total spending.



Health Bill Will Keep Massachusetts Overhaul Intact

The Boston Globe

December 23, 2009


The health care bill that the Senate is expected to pass on Christmas Eve has protections that ensure Massachusetts’ pioneering health insurance overhaul will remain intact, and it also includes $500 million in extra money for the state.




Christmas Eve Comes Early


December 23, 2009


The Senate will still be in session Christmas Eve day, but Democrats and Republicans have agreed to give health care reform a final vote starting at 8 a.m. - 11 hours earlier than originally scheduled.


House Dems: We Won’t Roll Over


December 23, 2009


House Democrats insisted Tuesday they have no plans to roll over for the Senate in upcoming negotiations on a health reform bill, even as they acknowledged it would be all but impossible to reinsert a public insurance option or force the so-called millionaire's tax on the Senate.


Obama Tries to Distance Himself from the Public Option


December 23, 2009


Now that the Senate has firmly rejected the public option, President Obama is trying his darnedest to distance himself from the controversial, and failed, proposal.


Parties Stay United as Health Care Bill Clears Steps in Senate

The New York Times

December 23, 2009


Democrats, who remained united in favor of the bill, began celebrating their imminent victory with a raucous news conference attended by a number of advocacy groups whose cheers made the event seem like a high school pep rally.


One Hurdle Remains in Senate

The Wall Street Journal

December 23, 2009


The final motion to end health care debate is expected to win approval Wednesday, clearing the way for senators to vote on the bill itself at 8 a.m. Thursday. Immediately after that, the Senate is also planning to vote on House-passed legislation increasing the government's borrowing authority.




Drug Industry Girds for Rise in Its Share of Overhaul

The New York Times

December 23, 2009


Facing last-minute liberal resistance in Congress, the drug industry is bracing for an increase in its share of the cost of the proposed health care overhaul beyond the $80 billion over 10 years that it had negotiated with the White House.


Feds Investigating Prescription Drug Price Increases

Healthleaders Media

December 23, 2009


Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson has agreed to look into charges that 96% of wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs were sharply increased in anticipation of health care reform.




Obama Lists Financial Rescue as ‘Most Important Thing’ of His First Year

The Washington Post

December 23, 2009

Obama rejected criticism that he has compromised too much to secure health-care reform or turned over too much authority to congressional leaders in pursuing his broad legislative agenda.



Businesses Brace for Health Bill Costs

The Wall Street Journal

December 23, 2009


Companies are alarmed at potentially costly provisions in the Senate health-care bill, many of which they hope will be scrapped during a final round of negotiations early next year.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among a few big business groups calling for Congress to scrap the overhaul effort.


Senate Provision Riles the Construction Industry

The Wall Street Journal

December 23, 2009


A last-minute addition to the Senate health care bill that requires small construction companies to offer health coverage or pay a fine touched off a battle Tuesday with some industry groups demanding its removal.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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