February 25, 2010

February 24: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Healthcare heavyweights call for reform

At times, it’s felt like President Obama is the only one out there trying to resuscitate health care reform after Republican Scott Brown’s Massachusetts Senate victory. But this week, with the president’s health care summit looming on Thursday, some influential organizations are stepping forward with much-needed public support for a renewed reform push…


The Roll Call ad will run on Thursday, just as the GOP and Democrats are sitting down in Washington, D.C. to try and thrash out an agreement. Midwestern health leaders who’ve signed the ad include: Mayo Clinic CEO and President John Noseworthy, HealthPartners President and CEO Mary Brainerd, Karl Ulrich of Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic, and Toby Cosgrove, President and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. The heads of the Geisinger Health System and Aetna also signed on.


Star Tribune, by Jill Burcum, 2/24/2010


Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic stand united...

Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Aetna, the U.S Chamber of Commerce, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and a variety of others have joined forces to call upon Congress to attack the nation's health-system problems or face "the beginning of a huge influx of Medicare beneficiaries" who will "put significant strain on Medicare's already precarious financial position."


Josh Derr, manager of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, said Mayo contacted other interested parties after it became clear President Obama will meet with members of Congress from both major political parties Thursday.


Post-Bulletin, by Jeff Hansel, 2/2010


Additional Mayo Clinic health care reform mentions:

The Journal Times

National Center for Public Policy



Top stories


White House Summit Agenda

Feb. 24, 2010


The agenda for Thursday’s meeting between President Obama and members of Congress.


Republicans Plan to Stress Private-Sector Alternatives to the President’s Plan

The Washington Post

Feb. 24, 2010

Republicans are preparing to use Thursday's White House health-care summit to sell their own ideas for using the private marketplace to expand coverage and reduce costs, but they remain wary of fumbling away what they believe is an advantage on the issue heading into this year's critical midterm elections.

G.O.P. Expects Little From Health Forum
The New York Times
Feb. 24, 2010

Republican leaders said they would attend a televised forum to discuss health care reform with Mr. Obama on Thursday, even as they voiced doubt that he and Congressional Democrats were acting in good faith.

Health Bill Faces Hurdles in House
The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 24, 2010

The sweeping health-care package unveiled this week by the White House appears to face big hurdles in the House, with abortion and unease among moderates potential stumbling blocks to winning passage of the legislation.

Health Care Heavyweights Call for Reform

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Feb. 24, 2010


Mayo Clinic is among a coalition of influential health providers and insurers that bought a full-page ad in Roll Call magazine calling for patient-centered reform.




WellPoint Raising Rates By Double Digits in at Least 11 States

Center for American Progress

Feb. 24, 2010


California isn't the only state where WellPoint is hiking individual premium rates by double-digit percentages. In fact, double-digit hikes have been implemented or are pending in at least 11 other states among the 14 where WellPoint's Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are active.


Anthem Blue Cross Plans to Go Ahead With Rate Hikes in California

The Los Angeles Times
Feb. 24, 2010


Executives from California health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross, under fire for scheduled rate hikes of up to 39%, insisted Tuesday that their premiums were fair and legal, and they told lawmakers they expected that the increases would go forward.


White House Announces Its Support For Insurance Antitrust Bill

Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal

Feb. 24, 2010


The White House on Tuesday publicly backed legislation to repeal the health insurance industry’s antitrust exemption, a small part of the Obama administration’s still-uncertain strategy to pass broader health overhaul legislation.


State news


Wis.: At the Summit of Completion

The Journal Sentinel

Feb. 20, 2010


The planned opening next week of a new, $200 million hospital in Summit, Wis., has some worried that the inevitable competition created could drive up healthcare costs in the area to the point that costs will rise faster than the national average for hospital care.




Docs Worried as Payment Cut Deadline Nears

HealthLeaders Media

Feb. 24, 2010


Despite a stepped-up lobbying effort over the past months, leading physicians' groups appear resigned and exasperated with the idea that Congress will not take permanent action to fix the sustainable growth rate formula before 21% reimbursement cuts for Medicare take effect March 1.


Reform efforts


Big Questions Still Linger on Eve of Health Care Meeting

The New York Times
Feb. 24, 2010


Months of health reform debate is culminating Thursday with a bipartisan meeting on the issue at the White House. As a result of the meeting, Congress could still end up passing a sweeping bill, a small bill, or no bill at all, the New York Times reports. Here, the Times tries to answer some of "the big lingering questions" surrounding health reform.


Senate Dems Warm to Reconciliation

Feb. 23, 2010

An idea that seemed toxic only weeks ago — using a parliamentary tactic to ram health reform through the Senate — is gaining acceptance among moderate Democrats who have resisted the strategy but now say GOP opposition may force their hands.



Small Businesses Seek More Action to Curb Health-Care Costs

The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 23, 2010


Some small business advocates criticized Obama's proposed health-care overhaul as imposing stiffer requirements on employers to provide insurance for workers while not doing enough to lower costs.


Health Information Technology


White House Sets Up Health IT Task Force

Federal Computer Week

Feb. 23, 2010


The White House will form an interagency task force to coordinate federal health information technology programs.




Study Finds Doctors Reducing Work Hours, Potentially Worsening Shortage of Primary Care Docs

AP/Yahoo News

Feb. 23, 2010


American doctors have steadily cut their work hours over the past decade, a new study finds, something that experts say may only worsen the U.S. healthcare situation. Average hours dropped from about 55 to 51 hours per week from 1996 to 2008, according to the analysis. That's the equivalent of losing 36,000 doctors in a decade, according to the researchers.

Tags: health care reform news, Health IT

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