February 2, 2010

February 1: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Top stories


Deficit to Hit All-Time High

The Wall Street Journal

Jan. 31, 2010


President Barack Obama will propose on Monday a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 that projects the deficit will shoot up to a record $1.6 trillion this year, but would push the red ink down to about $700 billion, or 4% of the gross domestic product, by 2013, according to congressional aides.

Related: Medicaid Could Get Billions, The Wall Street Journal
Obama's $3.8 Trillion Budget Calls for Jobs Assistance, Tax Changes, The Washington Post


GOP and Democrats Agree Health Overhaul Not Dead

The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 31, 2010


Democrats and Republicans agreed on Sunday that President Barack Obama’s health overhaul wasn’t dead. They disagreed over whether that was a good thing.


Democrats Quietly Working to Resuscitate Healthcare Overhaul

The Los Angeles Times

Jan. 30, 2010


While the focus shifts to legislation on jobs, party leaders are taking advantage of a cooling-off period to strategize, seek a new compromise and improve the public's opinion of the legislation.




Doc's Cash-Only Billing Bucks the Insurance Morass

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Jan. 31, 2010

Dr. James Eelkema, a longtime ER doc, has setup a cash-only family practice in Burnsville, posting prices online. One problem:$36. Two problems $54. He's out-MinuteClinic'ing MinuteClinic. Click here to visit Dr. Eelkema’s Web site.

The Insurer vs. the Hospitals
The New York Times
Jan. 30, 2010

A bitter dispute between one of the nation’s largest health insurers and a consortium of New York City hospitals illustrates the difficulties of controlling the ever-rising costs of medical care and insurance premiums. In this case, the insurer appears to be acting responsibly, if a bit heavy-handedly.


Wellness/Chronic Care


Wellness Efforts Face Hurdle

The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 1, 2010

Companies' efforts to reduce health-care costs by nudging employees into wellness programs are clashing with a federal law designed to prevent discrimination based on genetics.

State news


Minnesota: Chiefs of Medicine

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Jan. 31, 2010

Profiles of new leaders at Mayo Clinic, Park Nicollet and Allina, and what the leadership changes may mean for the future of Minnesota health care.

States Seeking to Ban Mandatory Health Insurance


Feb. 1, 2010


Although President Barack Obama's push for a health care overhaul has stalled, conservative lawmakers in about half the states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.




With Healthcare Reform Efforts on Hold, Medicare ‘Doc Fix’ Looms Large Again

The Hill

Feb. 1, 2010


At the end of February, a short-term measure enacted late last year will expire, exposing doctors who treat Medicare patients to a 21 percent reduction in their fees. The American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician groups are continuing to lobby lawmakers to enact a costly permanent reform to the complex formula that calculates the payment levels.


Reform efforts


What to Do Before Spending More on Health Care

The Washington Post – Op-ed
Feb. 1, 2010

Robert Samuelson argues that, “Before spending more, we need to spend better. If we don't, all possible outcomes are bad: high deficits or higher taxes; stunted take-home pay (squeezed by insurance premiums and taxes); lower spending on other programs; or meat-cleaver cuts in health spending. The vast medical-industrial complex -- doctors, hospitals, drug companies and more -- should be forced to change, just as other industries (autos, media, airlines) have had to adjust. The changes need not involve the mass layoffs of other industries, but they must alter how medical care is financed and delivered.”

Reps to Request Info on White House Health Care Deals

ABC News

Jan. 30, 2010


In a rare display of bipartisanship, a top House Democrat agreed to back a Republican lawmaker's quest for details of closed-door deals the White House made with industry insiders to produce a healthcare reform bill.


Prescription drugs


F.D.A. Aims at Doctors’ Drug Pitches

The New York Times

Jan. 31, 2010


In the rarefied world of fashion magazines, beauty editors have often relied on a coterie of prominent dermatologists and plastic surgeons to keep them current on advances in cosmetic medicine.


But now the Food and Drug Administration has cracked down on one of the most widely quoted cosmetic doctors, sending shudders through the ranks of opinion leaders in fashion publishing and vanity medicine.


Health Information Technology


Shopping for Health Software, Some Doctors Get Buyer’s Remorse

The Huffington Post Investigative Fund

Feb. 1, 2010


The federal government has made investing in electronic medical records a priority by channeling billions of dollars to help doctors and hospitals go paperless, but there's also concern that the government may not be doing enough to ensure that taxpayer money isn't wasted on faulty systems. What's more, doctors often have little expertise in buying electronic health records, commonly called EHRs, and do not always know what questions to ask or what protections they should push for in their contracts.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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