February 9, 2010

February 5: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Both Sides: Health care reform renews the promise of Medicare

Medicare is the lifeline for millions of seniors. Today, we need to renew the promise of Medicare and that is what health care reform does. This reform provides seniors with the peace of mind that Medicare is financially secure today, and long into the future…


Mayo Clinic has long operated on this principle, which is why they lead the world in offering high-quality, low-cost coordinated care. That is why they endorsed this "All-American" pay for performance provision in the House bill.


Post Bulletin, by Rep. Tim Walz, 2/4/2010


Medicare: The cost squeeze

Perhaps no government program was ever conceived from better intentions than Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for seniors and the disabled. But there are problems. Expenses have escalated far beyond the rate of inflation - and far beyond taxpayers' ability to pay.


Last year alone, the Globe says, the Mayo organization lost $840 million treating Medicare patients. Perhaps the hardest hit, per capita, is a five-physician Mayo facility in Glendale, Ariz. Medicare reimbursements covered only half the costs of treating recipients there.


Florida Times-Union, 2/5/2010


Mayo Clinic: Warning signs

Given Mayo Clinic's worldwide reputation for quality health care, it's understandable that some people here are afraid its Jacksonville campus, like the Glendale clinic in Arizona, will stop accepting payments for primary care Medicare patients.


Over the long term, there may be some validity in those fears. A spokesman says the local clinic no longer accepts new Medicare primary care patients, but it will continue to treat existing patients.


Florida Times-Union, 2/5/2010


Top stories


Obama Maps a Way Forward for a Health Overhaul

The New York Times – Prescriptions blog

Feb. 5, 2010


Speaking to enthusiastic supporters at a fundraiser here, President Obama on Thursday evening presented his clearest plan yet to move forward with comprehensive health care legislation, saying that he wanted to meet with Democrats, Republicans and independent experts, lay out the facts for the American people and then, he said, “I think that we have got to move forward on a vote.”


G.O.P. Senator Is Sworn In, and Democrats Regroup

The New York Times
Feb. 4, 2010


President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders sought to reset their agenda as they lost their 60th vote in the Senate on Thursday, trying to push ahead with measures to spur more job creation even as they grasped for ideas to keep alive their health care legislation.




Anthem Blue Cross Dramatically Raising Rates for Californians With Individual Health Policies

The Los Angeles Times
Feb. 5, 2010


California's largest for-profit health insurer is moving to dramatically raise rates for customers with individual policies, setting off a furor among policyholders and prompting state insurance regulators to investigate.




Obama's Budget: More Money, New Name for Comparative Effectiveness Research

Feb. 4, 2010

While Congress may not have approved healthcare reform legislation yet, one of the more well-discussed—and sometimes controversial—areas included in the reform bills was included in President Obama's proposed fiscal 2011 budget: comparative effectiveness research (CER).

However, a scan of the proposed budget will detect no references to "CER;" its new name is instead: "patient-centered health research."

Medical Group Urges New Rules on Radiation

The New York Times

Feb. 4, 2010


The American Society for Radiation Oncology has called for enhanced safety measures in administering medical radiation, including the establishment of the nation's first central database for the reporting of errors involving linear accelerators and CT scanners.


Wellness/Chronic Care


Report: 40% of Cancers are Preventable

USA Today
Feb. 4, 2010


About 40% of cancers could be prevented if people stopped smoking and overeating, limited their alcohol, exercised regularly and got vaccines targeting cancer-causing infections, experts say.


State news


Washington State Mulls ‘Public Option’ Health Insurance

The Puget Sound Business Journal

Feb. 4, 2010


The Washington state Health Care Authority said it plans to ask private insurers to help it create a coverage option that anyone in the state could buy for about $100 a month.


Illinois Top Court Strikes Down Medical Malpractice Caps

The Chicago Tribune

Feb. 4, 2010


The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state's medical malpractice law, saying it violates separation of powers by allowing lawmakers to interfere with a judge's ability to reduce verdicts.


Baptist Hospital Forms Neurology Unit

Jacksonville Business Journal

Feb. 3, 2010


Jacksonville, FL-based Baptist Health said it has merged existing neurology practices and hired new staff to form Baptist Neurology Group. It will be a nine-doctor, three-location neurology practice that will ultimately be consolidated to a dedicated inpatient unit for neurology and neurosurgery at Baptist Medical Center.




Millions More Children Added To Medicaid, CHIP Rolls In 2009

Kaiser Health News
Feb. 4, 2010


About 2.6 million previously uninsured children gained coverage last year in government health programs, according to a federal study released today.


Reform efforts


Obama's Next Step

Feb. 4, 2010


Months after Congress abandoned any hopes of a broad bipartisan deal on health care reform, President Barack Obama said Thursday the "next step" on health care reform involves going back to the negotiating table with Republicans.


Sen. Landrieu Defends Medicaid Deal for La.

AP/The Washington Post

Feb. 5, 2010


Called a prostitute by conservative talk show hosts, a Louisiana Democrat on Thursday defended a deal she cut for her Hurricane Katrina-ravaged state in the Senate health care bill.


Prescription drugs


Stalled Health Care Bill Leaves Drug Makers in Regulatory Limbo

The New York Times

Feb. 4, 2010


With the possible demise of health care legislation, getting back to business as usual may not be the best thing for the nation’s drug makers.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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