February 2, 2010

February 2: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Top stories


If Health Care Dies, Obama's Modest Budget Plan B

AP/Yahoo News

Feb. 1, 2010


The budget released Monday contains lots of respectable ideas to squeeze savings, expand coverage and improve quality, but no ambitious change that launches the nation on a path to health care for all.


Health-Care Overhaul Still on Table, The Wall Street Journal

How Health Care Fares In Obama's Budget Freeze, NPR




Obama's Budget Increases Funding for Medical Research That Compares Treatment Options

Kaiser Health News

Feb. 1, 2010


The Obama administration, in an effort to forge ahead with its sometimes-contentious effort to compare various medical treatments, is proposing a big boost in funding for the agency that oversees the research, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


New Ways to Calculate the Risks of Surgery

The Wall Street Journal

Feb. 2, 2010


Risk calculators, used by heart surgeons for several years, are now being developed for other surgical specialties. The calculators help doctors and patients make tough decisions about procedures.


Top Hospitals are Improving Faster, Says HealthGrades Study

HealthLeaders Media
Feb. 2, 2010

HealthGrades recently released its eighth annual HealthGrades Annual Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study and the results show that the top 5% of U.S. hospitals are improving faster than the rest of the field. The same top hospitals have a 29% lower risk-adjusted mortality rate, as well as a 9% lower risk-adjusted complication rate than other U.S. hospitals.

Wellness/Chronic Care


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas Setting Up 'Medical Home' Program

The Dallas Morning News
Feb. 2, 2010


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas announced it is implementing a "medical home" program in five North Texas counties to better emphasize wellness and manage diseases.


Aging: Higher Co-Payments Tied to Costlier Care

The New York Times
Feb. 2, 2010


When Medicare plans raise co-payments for outpatient care, older people cut back on doctors’ visits, then wind up needing more expensive hospital care, a new study reports.


State news


Va. Senate Bans Health Insurance Mandate


Feb. 2, 2010


The Democratic-led Virginia Senate sent a strong message about health care reform efforts in Washington, D.C., on Monday, passing a bill that makes it illegal for Virginians to be required to buy health insurance.


States Restart Health-Care Push

The Wall Street Journal

Feb. 2, 2010

With the fate of a national health care overhaul unclear, state legislators are pushing their own bills aimed at expanding coverage, though tight budgets are likely to hinder many of these efforts.

States Cutting Back Special Programs For Uninsured

Kaiser Health News

Feb. 2, 2010


Some states are paring back health insurance programs for low-income people - even as demand grows.




Medicare 'Doc Fix' May Cost $200B

Feb. 2, 2010

Doctors and seniors lobbying to stave off looming annual Medicare cuts have won a reprieve of sorts but are still pushing for a permanent fix.

Analysis Examines Trends In Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits and Cost-Sharing

Kaiser Family Foundation

Feb. 2, 2010


This data spotlight examines trends in benefits and cost-sharing for Medicare Advantage plans in 2010, including the wide variations found across plans and the rapid increase in cost sharing requirements for some benefits, including stays in skilled nursing facilities.  It also examines the annual limits on out-of-pocket spending set by most Medicare Advantage plans and the availability of coverage for drugs in the Medicare drug benefit's coverage gap, or "doughnut hole."


Reform efforts


With Bill Stalled, What if Talks Reopen?

The New York Times – Prescriptions blog

Feb. 1, 2010


Why aren't Democrats talking about writing a new bill?


Deja Vu a Nightmare for Democrats?

Jan. 31, 2010


The parallels to 1994 — the last time health reform died — are unmistakable.


Obama Calls Health Overhaul ‘My Greatest Hope’

The New York Times – Prescriptions blog

Feb. 2, 2010

President Obama, in a question-and-answer session posted on YouTube, said that “it is my greatest hope” that health care legislation be adopted “not just a year from now, but soon.” Yet he also referred to the effort in the past tense: “We came extremely close,” he said — a sign that the fate of the health care measure is now highly uncertain.

The Failure to Address the Costs of Defensive Medicine in Health Care Legislation

Staff report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Feb. 2, 2010


A report by Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee finds 'Defensive medicine wastes as much as $210 billion annually. ... In 2003, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that the federal government spends between $33.7 billion and $56.2 billion per year for malpractice coverage and the costs of defensive medicine.”


Health Information Technology


Obama Budgets $78 Million For Health IT

Information Week
Feb. 1, 2010


President Obama's proposed federal budget for fiscal 2011 released on Monday includes $78 million for programs to help propel health IT adoption and use.




Practicing on Patients, Real and Otherwise

The New York Times

Jan. 28, 2010


Medical simulation can improve teamwork among doctors, nurses and other clinicians.

Tags: health care reform news, Health Policy, Health Policy

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