February 3, 2010

February 3: Health Care Reform

By Kelley Luckstein

The ultimate in two-tier health care

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has flown to the United States to have unspecified heart surgery that he could not get at home. That sound you hear from the U.S. is right-wing critics of single-payer health care jostling for air time to mock Canada's "socialist" medicare system…


In fairness nobody should be surprised or offended that Williams now chooses to put his own health ahead of such rhetoric. Nor is he the first Canadian politician to do so. Robert Bourassa, too, went to the U.S. for care. So did Jean Chrétien, who in 1999 even used government aircraft for two trips to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.


The Gazette, 2/2/2010


Additional coverage:

National Post



THE INFLUENCE GAME: Health lobbying gears down

Notice you're not bombarded anymore by TV ads about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan? Drugmakers, business organizations and other interest groups in the health care battle have dialed down expensive lobbying campaigns as they assess how last month's stunning Republican capture of a Senate seat from Massachusetts has altered Washington's political landscape…


Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says she has been hearing from the Mayo Clinic and doctors in her state. The insurance industry has distributed reports on Capitol Hill arguing that states that require coverage for those already sick have seen rates skyrocket. AARP, representing seniors, wrote lawmakers last week saying, "We have come too far to halt progress on health care reform."


Washington Post by Alan Farm, 2/2/2010


Top stories


Stumping for Jobs Plan, Obama Pushes Health Bill

The New York Times

Feb. 3, 2010


While President Obama promoted the new job-creation program he described as his No. 1 priority, he refused to abandon his embattled healthcare legislation, vowing to "punch it through" resistance in Congress.


Hoyer Walks Back Week-End Prediction

Feb. 2, 2010


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn't "think time's running out" for Congress to do health care reform - but he's not making any predictions about when things will get back on track.


Democrats Change Health-Care Tack

The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 3, 2010


With their sweeping healthcare reform bill on hold, House Democrats plan to revive a sliver of the legislation that would repeal an antitrust exemption for insurance companies. Related: Nancy Pelosi's New Health Care Plan, Politico




The Debate Over Selling Insurance Across State Lines

Kaiser Health News
Feb. 3, 2010


With health care legislation stalled, Republicans are touting their own remedies, including allowing Americans to buy health coverage across state lines. Critics -- including consumer watchdog groups and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners -- say the provision would erode many state government consumer protections, leave policyholders with inadequate coverage and could actually lead to higher premiums for some people.




Pregnancy-Related Death Rate on the Rise

San Francisco Chronicle

Feb. 3, 2010


The mortality rate of California women who die from causes directly related to pregnancy has nearly tripled in the past decade, prompting doctors to worry about the dangers of obesity in expectant mothers and about medical complications of cesarean sections. The problem may be occurring nationwide. The Joint Commission issued an alert to hospitals on Jan. 26, stating: "Unfortunately, current trends and evidence suggest that maternal mortality rates may be increasing."


Wellness/Chronic Care


10 Steps to Reform Insurance While Covering Chronic Conditions

HealthLeaders Media
Feb. 3, 2010

The government should initiate "small scale reforms" to its healthcare insurance system to overcome potentially devastating obstacles in serving an aging and chronically ill baby-boomer population, says one of the leaders in the healthcare consumerism movement, John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

State news


Florida: Medicaid Choices Could Narrow

Health New Florida

Feb. 2, 2010


This could be the year the state of Florida eliminates its popular MediPass program, which gives more than half a million Medicaid recipients, mostly aged and disabled Floridians, an alternative to HMOs. Hints of its demise showed up in the governor's budget and letters from a powerful lawmaker.


MN: Medically Vulnerable are Anxious, Confused

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Feb. 2, 2010


As a political battle rages over Gov. Tim Pawlenty's decision to eliminate Minnesota’s General Assistance Medical Care program -- part of his plan to balance the state budget -- more than 35,000 people are caught in the crossfire.


Changes Would Add Costs to IowaCare, Official Says

The Des Moines Register
Feb. 3, 2010


Iowa legislators should expect many more patients to sign up for a healthcare program for the poor if the state makes the program more convenient to use, a top administrator said.


Laying The Foundation For Catalytic Change

Health Affairs

February 2010


In an interview with Health Affairs’ Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer, California Health Care Foundation President and CEO Mark D. Smith discusses the Foundation's accomplishments since its founding, serving as a catalyst for advances in health care access, quality improvement, and technology in California. Smith also contemplates health system challenges facing both the nation and California during a time of economic instability and where he hopes to take the Foundation in the coming years.




Medicare, Medicaid are 2011 Budget Gorillas at HHS

Fierce Healthcare
Feb. 2, 2010

Mandatory outlays for the Medicare and Medicaid programs far outweigh discretionary spending in President Barack Obama's proposed 2011 budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Medicare and Medicaid funding totals $489.3 billion and $264.5 billion, respectively, while discretional funding comes in at a measly $82.8 billion.

Medicare Pay Cuts to Doctors: A Five-Year Fix?

The Wall Street Journal – Health blog

Feb. 3, 2010


Medicare payments to doctors were supposed to fall by 21% at the start of this year, but Congress passed a last-minute, two-month patch to block the cuts. The Senate recently passed a pay-as-you-go law that would require balancing all new spending with tax increases or spending cuts, but the legislation included a loophole that states Congress can allocate an additional $82 billion for physician payments without having to find new sources of revenue or savings. The move could be enough to block scheduled pay cuts for five years.


Reform efforts


The Influence Game: Health Lobbying Gears Down

AP/Yahoo News

Feb. 3, 2010


Drugmakers, business organizations and other interest groups in the health care battle have dialed down expensive lobbying campaigns as they assess how last month's stunning Republican capture of a Senate seat from Massachusetts has altered Washington's political landscape.


Poll: Health Care Bill Won't Help Democrats

Feb. 3, 2010

Democrats will face nearly the same political environment this fall whether or not they pass health care reform legislation, according to a new poll out Tuesday.

Health Information Technology


Ohio Hospitals Go High-Tech

Port-Clinton News-Herald

Jan. 29, 2010

 Two Ohio hospitals--Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton and Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk--soon will be among the top 5 percent of the most automated, fully digital hospitals in the United States, reports the Port Clinton News Herald. The hospitals will implement wireless, all-digital patient care systems from Cerner Corp. that will give caregivers "instant access to real-time patient information," says Fisher-Titus President Pat Martin.




Involving Nurses in Shared Decision-Making

HealthLeaders Media

Feb. 3, 2010


We should listen to nurses, said the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently, which teamed with Gallup to survey opinion leaders from a variety of industries on nursing's influence. While noting that nursing is one of the most trusted professions, this trust does not translate into action, the survey found. But some organizations ensure nursing's voice is heard and that nurses are involved in all decisions through shared governance.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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