February 19, 2010

February 17: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

An open letter to U.S. Reps Burgess and Bachmann

We hope you enjoyed your visit to Rochester. You came to the home of the world famous Mayo Clinic and one of the highest quality and low cost regions for Medicare patients…


As physicians practicing in Minnesota, we are discouraged by your refusal to endorse two key provisions supported by your colleagues in the Quality Care Coalition, which involve eliminating geographic disparities, which unfairly punish Minnesota while rewarding Texas, and moving toward pay for results, which will reward Minnesota's higher quality of care over Texas' results…


Your constituents elected you to fix what is wrong with our country, but you have chosen to support the status quo instead of starting to deal with the problems with health care.


Post-Bulletin by Dr. Mark Liebow, Dr. Vanda Lennon and Dr. Michael McGoon, 2/17/2010


Mayo Clinic among providers targeting readmissions

Unnecessary hospital readmissions have been a particularly hot topic since last April when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiated the Care Transition Project, a pilot program to improve transitions across the healthcare continuum and thus reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions in 14 communities nationwide…


In January, the three-campus Mayo Clinic, including Mayo Clinic Florida, launched a system-wide initiative to slash avoidable hospital readmissions… Avoidable hospital readmissions indicate "that something was missed at the time of discharge to prepare the patient for being home or a rehab facility," says Nancy Dawson, project chair for readmission rates and chair of the division of hospital medicine for Mayo Clinic Florida.


FierceHealthcare, by Caralyn Davis, 2/16/2010


Additional coverage: Jacksonville Business Journal



Top stories

White House Hints of New Health Bill
The New York Times
Feb. 16, 2010

With the House and the Senate still at loggerheads over their health care bills, the White House hinted on Tuesday that President Obama might post his own bill on the Internet before the bipartisan health care summit he is planning for Blair House next week.

Health Care Reform and Reconciliation a Bad Mix, Ex-Parliamentarian Says

The Hill
Feb. 16, 2010


Democrats face a series of parliamentary obstacles if they try passing a health bill through reconciliation, the Senate’s former parliamentarian said Tuesday afternoon, adding another prominent voice to the chorus that has raised doubts about the feasibility and likelihood of such a procedural move. Related: The Trouble With Reconciliation, Politico


Senators Urge Reid to Revisit Public Option

Feb. 17, 2010


Four Democratic senators — including two in tough reelection battles — sent a letter Tuesday to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging him to bring the public insurance option back up for a vote.


Democrats Bend on Antitrust Repeal

Feb. 16, 2010

Democrats look like they’ll scale back the legislation to protect insurance companies that offer malpractice coverage to doctors and other health care providers, bowing to industry pressure in the latest concession of the health care fight.



To Buy or Not to Buy Health Insurance Across State Lines

Feb. 16, 2010


A report on the GOP idea of selling insurance across state lines, which could be debated at the bipartisan health care summit next week.




Mayo Among Hospitals Implementing Programs to Reduce Readmissions
Jacksonville Business Journal
Feb. 12, 2010


In January, Mayo Clinic launched a system-wide initiative to slash avoidable hospital readmissions.


Wellness/Chronic Care


State-by-State: Counties Rated Highest and Lowest in Health

USA Today

Feb. 17, 2010


For the first time, a new report reveals how counties across America stack up when it comes to health. Related: Health Report Card: How Does Your County Stack Up?


More Children Have Chronic Diseases; Study Cites Obesity

USA Today

Feb. 17, 2010


The rate of chronic disease among children has doubled in the past two decades: More than half of children ages 8 to 14 have had a long-term health problem at some point, such as obesity, asthma, a learning disability or other ailment, a study shows.


State news


L.A. County Slashes Doctors' Reimbursement Rate
The Los Angeles Times
Feb. 17, 2010


Emergency room doctors and on-call specialists treating poor, uninsured patients at private hospitals in Los Angeles County had their reimbursement rate slashed by county supervisors.


No Longer Waiting for Feds, States Jumpstart Health Reform

HealthLeaders Media

Feb. 17, 2010

More than two dozen states have launched healthcare reform initiatives, but most are strapped financially and are unlikely to undertake major reform while federal legislation is stalled on Capitol Hill, says a top health official for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Reform efforts


Poll: Most Americans Think Congress Should Start Over on Health Care

The Hill

Feb. 16, 2010


In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party's approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.


Kyl: Health Talks Might Be 'Pointless'

The National Journal

Feb. 14, 2010

Senate Minority Whip Kyl said today it would be "pointless" for congressional Republicans to participate in healthcare talks at the White House if Democrats have already devised a plan to push a pre-negotiated reconciliation bill.

RAND: Reform Would Increase Healthcare Spending, But Millions More Would Have Insurance
HealthLeaders Media
Feb. 17, 2010

As a way of anticipating questions about the two reform bills passed last year by the House and the Senate, RAND researchers have been examining the impact of the bills, with a focus on access, quality, and cost.

GOP Sees Possible Upside in Health Care Summit

AP/Google News
Feb. 17, 2010

Obama and the Democrats are certain to highlight a crucial element of their health care plan — extending coverage to more than 30 million Americans — at the one-of-a-kind event. By comparison, a Republican plan would only help 3 million more. But during a time of ballooning deficits, the GOP figures reining in rising medical costs — not coverage — could resonate with voters in an election year.

Health Industry's Political Giving Rose 14% in '09
USA Today
Feb. 17, 2010


Pharmacists, optometrists, and groups representing an array of medical specialists boosted their political giving in 2009, as Congress worked on healthcare legislation that would reshape their industry, a review of new campaign-finance reports shows.




Stimulus Funds Harbor Hidden Costs

The Scientist
Feb. 2, 2010


When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) doled out $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion to the National Science Foundation last year, many hailed it as a triumph for the US research enterprise. But the money, it turns out, comes with strings attached: keeping up with ARRA's administrative requirements is costing institutions thousands in increased overhead and may be compromising or delaying other initiatives and projects at the nation's leading research universities.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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