March 9, 2010

March 9: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Most Minn. Dems ready to reconcile health care reform

President Barack Obama is pushing Democrats to pass a health care bill in the next few weeks. They'll have to use a budget process called reconciliation to revive legislation that stalled in January. Some critics view the process an end-run around Republican opposition, but supporters note it's the same one the Bush Administration used to pass tax cuts…


First District Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from Rochester, said many House members are negotiating to get guarantees before they vote on the Senate bill…


"I think Minnesota, and especially southern Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic, we've got a lot to offer to this bill that we put in on this pay for value," Walz said. "I want it to be as strong as it can possibly be especially for folks that are negotiating this final step, they understand that and they know it's there because it has to be for me."


MPR, by Elizabeth Stawicki, 3/9/2010


What Price For Medical Miracles? High Costs At End Of Life Still Part Of National Health Debate

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan is a big man with a gravelly voice and a reputation for blunt characterizations about health care conundrums. Speaking on the phone from his office at the University of Pennsylvania, he recently posed a question: "What would you do if your mother needed an expensive, painful operation that had only a one in a million chance of saving her?" Without pausing, he opined, "Most Americans would say ‘do it’…”


Hospitals that do not use fee for service, such as Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic, appear to order fewer tests and procedures at the end of life without impacting outcomes or the quality of care, according to the Dartmouth researchers.


Kaiser Health News, by David Ewing Duncan, 3/9/2010


Additional health care reform mentions: Washington Post, WBAY


Top stories


Obama Pitches Health Plan in Spirited Appearance

AP/The Washington Post

March 8, 2010


Stirring memories of his campaign for the White House, President Barack Obama made a spirited, shirt-sleeved appeal for passage of long-stalled health care changes Monday as Democratic congressional leaders worked behind the scenes on legislation they hope can quickly gain passage.


Related coverage:

Obama Turns Up the Volume in Health Care Bid, The New York Times

Obama Takes Hard-Sell Health Pitch to Pa., USA Today


Obama Launches Attack on Health Insurance Companies

The Washington Post

March 9, 2010

The White House is mounting a stinging, sustained broadside against health insurance rate increases as President Obama and his aides enter what they hope will be the final stretch of a year-long political war over health-care reform.



State Insurance Experts See Flaw in Obama’s Plan to Curb Health Premiums

The New York Times

March 9, 2010


Experts see a serious potential problem with President Obama’s proposal for federal review and regulation of health insurance premiums: Federal officials will focus on holding down premiums while state officials focus on the solvency of insurers, the ultimate consumer protection.


Bundled Payments Might Cut Hospital Costs Without Reducing Quality of Care

The Washington Post

March 9, 2010

Manoj Jain, an infectious-disease specialist and an adjunct assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, writes about problems he sees with the "fee-for-service" model. “It's a design flaw of our health-care system, and one of the reasons for spiraling health-care costs. But we can patch this flaw without overhauling the entire system: We can start "bundling" payments.”



Hoped-For Drop in Childbirth Deaths Not Happening

The Washington Post
March 9, 2010

Pregnancy-related deaths appear to have risen nationwide over the past decade, nearly tripling in the state with the most careful count - California. And while they're very rare - about 550 a year out of 4 million births nationally - they're nowhere near as rare as they should be. The maternal mortality rate is four times higher than a goal the federal government set for this year.

A Conversation With Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, Medical Director of the Quality and Safety Research Group at Johns Hopkins Hospital

The New York Times
March 9, 2010


In addition to his role as medical director of the Quality and Safety Research Group at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Pronovost, travels the country, advising hospitals on innovative safety measures. He is the co-author of “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out.”

Wellness/Chronic Care


Group Appointments Give Patients Better Access to Physicians

The Washington Post

March 9, 2010


Caring for multiple patients simultaneously has gotten a boost as the nation searches for sustainable models of health care.


State news


FL: Miami's Jackson CEO Playing Dangerous Game


March 8, 2010


An overview of the “game of chicken” Jackson President and CEO Eneida Roldan has decided to play with Jackson's 12,000 employees. She is threatening a doomsday scenario — laying off nearly 4,500 employees and closing two hospitals — which she hopes will spur the unions to offer wage concessions. At the same time, she is attempting to blackmail the county commission to either bail out the hospital with cash or allow it to break away from the county and form its own independent taxing district. Related: Jackson South Hospital Could Be Multimillion-Dollar White Elephant, The Miami Herald


AZ: Plan for State Budget Counts on Steep Cuts

The Arizona Republic
March 9, 2010


Lawmakers are poised to vote this week on a state budget that would eliminate health-care coverage for 47,000 children, remove 310,000 Arizonans from the state's Medicaid program and shift juvenile corrections to the counties. And that's the kinder, gentler version of the fiscal 2011 budget.


Reform efforts


Stupak: Health Bill Abortion Fight Can Be Resolved


March 8, 2010

Rep. Bart Stupak said he expects to resume talks with House leaders this week in a quest for wording that would impose no new limits on abortion rights but also would not allow use of federal money for the procedure.

Lights, Camera, Reconcile!
March 9, 2010

The yearlong debate over health care reform — a titanic contest involving big ideas, passionate convictions and lofty principles — is headed toward a highly unlikely endgame: a clash between parliamentary procedure attorneys.

Foreign Health Courts Could Serve as Model for U.S.
HeathLeaders Media
March 9, 2010

In his healthcare reform proposal to Congress last week, President Obama—under fire from the GOP for failing to address tort reform—called for including up to $50 million to fund demonstration projects to test medical malpractice case alternatives such as health courts. While health courts are not well-known in the U.S., several countries have systems in place that could provide alternative models to jury trials in malpractice cases.


What Price For Medical Miracles? High Costs At End Of Life Still Part Of National Health Debate

Kaiser Health News

March 9, 2010


Science and technology could make medical miracles a common occurrence, but at what price?

Health Information Technology

Stimulus To Push Electronic Health Records Could Widen 'Digital Divide'
The Huffington Post Investigative Fund
March 8, 2010

Medical societies, both large and small, say that federal officials are pushing doctors to phase out paper charts too quickly. Some rural health organizations fear the program could exacerbate a “digital divide” by concentrating the funding in elite hospitals that already computerize their records. Even some of the elite hospital systems aren’t satisfied, seeking help from lawmakers to plead their case for more money.



Hospitals Debate the Pros, Cons of White Coats for Doctors

HealthLeaders Media

March 9, 2010


A discussion of the pros and cons of doctors wearing white coats. Includes mention of Mayo Clinic’s physician dress code.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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