March 8, 2010

March 8: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Fix Medicare first — we already have health care, and it’s broken

The debate continues about whether the government should be given greater power over our health care. In October 2009, more than 3,000 patients at the Arrowhead Mayo Clinic in Glendale, Ariz., received a startling letter: Arrowhead would no longer dispense primary medical care to Medicare patients…


According to spokeswoman Lynn Closway, the Mayo organization as a whole lost more than $840 million in one year on Medicare. The Mayo system in Arizona, consisting of a hospital and four clinics including the Arrowhead facility, lost $120 million in 2008, according to Michael Yardley, another Mayo spokesman.


San Francisco Examiner, by Matt Patterson, 3/8/2010


Bill George: Time to transform state's health care

At a University of Minnesota leadership seminar last week I posed this question: "Rather than waiting for Washington to devise the ideal national system, what should Minnesota's leaders do to transform the state's health care?"…


Even if the current federal legislation eventually passes, it will only address one aspect of health care: expanding access to insurance…


Minnesota has long been the national leader in health care. From the University of Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic, leading hospitals in the Allina, Fairview and other hospital systems…and the medical technology industry, we have many of the finest health organizations in the world.


Star Tribune, by Bill George, 3/6/2010



Top stories


If Reform Fails

The New York Times (editorial)

March 6, 2010

As the fierce debate on President Obama’s plan for health care reform comes to a head, Americans should be thinking carefully about what happens if Congress fails to enact legislation.

In Search of a Plan C

The Washington Post (editorial)

March 8, 2010

As Mr. Obama scrambles to assemble majorities in the House and Senate, some legislators continue to explore options for more fiscal soundness, including some kind of fail-safe mechanism that would push Congress to act if projected savings do not materialize. Those who care about both access and fiscal responsibility could even now insist on a Plan C.

Obama to Appeal for Public Support on Health Care

AP/Google News

March 8, 2010


With the fate of his signature legislative initiative far from certain, President Barack Obama is taking his last-ditch push for health care reform on the road. Related: President Obama Takes Reform on the Road, Politico


Health Care Overhaul Comes Down to Pelosi and Obama

The Los Angeles Times

March 8, 2010


The bill's fate depends on whether the House speaker can land enough votes - and whether the president can take control of the debate, which Democrats say he has not done.


Democrats Voice Health-Bill Doubts

The Wall Street Journal
March 8, 2010


Some House Democrats wavering over whether to back a healthcare overhaul questioned whether it would effectively curb the country's health costs.




Obama Wields Analysis of Insurers in Health Battle

The New York Times
March 6, 2010


An analysis by Goldman Sachs recommends that investors buy shares in two big insurance companies because insurance rates are up sharply and competition is down.


Top Health Insurance Lobbyist Fires Back at the White House

The Hill

March 8, 2010


The head of a powerful health insurance group said her industry is addressing executive compensation issues, firing back at the White House for its recent report that highlighted the salaries of senior executives. Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said the profits of her sector pale in comparison to others.


How Health Reform Could Affect The 'Young Invincibles'

Kaiser Health News

March 8, 2010


Under the health bills being debated in Congress, young adults would be required to buy insurance - but they could buy low-cost "catastrophic" plans, requiring high deductibles. That's igniting a fierce debate whether young adults -- sometimes known as the "young invincibles" -- would benefit from such plans.


How Blue Cross Became Part Of A Dysfunctional Health Care System

Kaiser Health News

March 8, 2010


Jonathan Cohn writes that if the Democrats get their way, Blue Cross companies will have to change their business model, so that they act a bit more like the Blue Cross plans of old--the ones that helped schoolteachers, not stockholders.




One Hospital's Simple Measure to Defeat Infections

The Philadelphia Inquirer

March 8, 2010


About two years ago, Abington (PA) Memorial Hospital dispatched "spies" to observe and report how often doctors and nurses washed their hands when entering and leaving patients' rooms. As a result of all of Abington's efforts, the percentage of staff washing hands rose from 31% in December 2007 to 88% in September 2009, officials said.


State news


Va. Health Bill Could Foil Obama Proposal

The Boston Globe

March 8, 2010

The Virginia Legislature this week is poised to become the first state to pass legislation that says citizens cannot be required to have medical insurance.

MN: State Capitol Deal Reached to Continue Health Care for Poor

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
March 8, 2010

DFL legislators and Gov. Pawlenty came to an agreement on General Assistance Medical Care. It won't end April 1, but coverage will be cut back.

Health Insurers Seeking Rate Hike

The Boston Globe

March 8, 2010


Three weeks after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick warned that his administration might turn down health insurance premium increases it deemed excessive for individuals and small businesses, insurers have asked the state to approve rate hikes of 8%-32% for April 1. Patrick last month said the state Division of Insurance would review rate increases exceeding 4.8% as part of a broader effort to rein in healthcare expenses. If the insurers’ latest round of increases is rejected, it would mark the first time Massachusetts has capped health insurance rates.




Under Health Reform, Medicaid Would Cover Many Childless Adults

Kaiser Health News

March 8, 2010


Long excluded by Medicaid programs in most states, millions of low-income, childless adults could qualify for coverage under Democratic health overhaul proposals.


Seniors Face Higher Medicare Costs

The Dallas Morning News

March 8, 2010


Medicare Advantage plans with drug benefits are getting more expensive.


Reform efforts


3 Dems unsure about changing votes for health care

The Washington Post

March 7, 2010


Top House Democrat said Sunday he believes Congress will pass a health care bill, but three fellow Democrats who opposed overhaul legislation last fall aren't committing themselves to backing President Barack Obama's late push.


Abortion Could Be Health Bill Deal Breaker in House

March 8, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi keeps insisting that the abortion fight isn’t relevant in the health care debate. Try telling that to her rank-and-file.

A Handy Road Map for the Final Weeks

The New York Times

March 8, 2010

This really is the home stretch in the health care debate. But after 199 laps around the racetrack, it is hard not to feel dizzy, and even a little lost. So the NYT’s Prescriptions blog is offering a handy road map for the next three weeks — a sort of GPS guide to the health care finish line.

Prescription drugs


Biologics Boondoggle

The New York Times

March 8, 2010


Congress should scrap a plan to grant biologic drugs 12 years of protection from generic competitors.


Obama Administration


Message Maven Finds Fingers Pointing at Him

The New York Times

March 7, 2010


Profile of David Axelrod, White House senior adviser, who oversees every aspect of how President Obama is presented.

The Limits of Rahmism

The New York Times

March 8, 2010


Rahm Emanuel was chosen as White House chief of staff because he could make things happen. The New York Times Magazine asks, “What happened?”




Cleveland Clinic Considers Further Expansion Out West

The Las Vegas Plain Dealer

March 7, 2010


Cleveland Clinic executives are mulling the idea of expanding programs in Las Vegas, reviewing how adding to operations there could enhance its ability to serve patients, grow revenues and elevate its brand.


Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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