March 11, 2010

March 11: Health Care Reform News

By Kelley Luckstein

Health-care conundrums
Health-care reform as we know it would be more accurately described as health-insurance reform. I say this because, for the most part, Americans and politicians in favor of the current legislation have focused on changing regulations on medical benefits and insurance companies. They haven’t made much of an effort to control rising health costs…


Last summer, Atul Gawande, a staff writer for The New Yorker, found some shocking things about McAllen, Texas, and our nation’s health-care system…The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks within the bottom 15 percent nationally in terms of cost of care, yet its quality is universally known as some of the best.


The Daily Iowan, by Tyler Hakes, 3/10/2010


Top stories


Democrats, White House Close in on Health Bill

AP/Yahoo News

March 11, 2010


A final agreement nearly in hand, President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are about to embark on one last sales job that will determine the outcome of the president's signature health care overhaul.

In St. Louis Area, Obama Pounds Drum for Health-Care Initiative
The Washington Post
March 11, 2010

Obama's appearance at St. Charles High School was the most visible element of his endgame strategy to push through health-care legislation. Unfolding inside and outside the Capital Beltway, the effort is designed to revive the sense that passage is inevitable, a feeling that evaporated when Democrats lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority in January. One senior administration official described the final phase as "working both sides of the street."

Nancy Pelosi: ‘We’re Going to Get Started’
March 10, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will start walking her members through major components of the final health care package Thursday as Democrats inch ever closer to a climatic vote on the landmark legislation.

Can Nancy Pelosi Get the Votes?

The Wall Street Journal – op-ed

March 11, 2010


Michael Barone, a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of "The Almanac of American Politics 2010," believes the Senate bill's abortion language is not the House Speaker's only problem to contend with as she seeks votes.



New, Cheaper Health Plans Aim To Avert Costly Procedures

Kaiser Health News
March 11, 2010


Workers at a Portland, Ore., steel mill soon will be able to pick a new type of insurance that offers free care for some illnesses, such as diabetes or depression, but requires hefty extra fees for treatments deemed overused, including knee replacements, hysterectomies and heart bypass surgery.

The policies are among the first to apply financial incentives on both sides of one important factor driving up the nation’s health care tab: The underuse of proven treatments and overuse of certain surgeries and diagnostic tests that may be less valuable.


Face-off: Kathleen Sebelius Confronts Insurers

March 10, 2010


In sharply focused snapshot of the bitter fight over health care reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confronted insurance executives Wednesday at their annual conference, challenging them to divert millions in anti-reform advertising dollars toward cutting premiums.


NewsHour Features Face-off Between HCAN and AHIP

March 10, 2010


Yesterday, NewsHour featured a face-off between Richard Kirsch from Health Care for America Now and Mike Tuffin from America’s Health Insurance Plans. Politico calls the clip an “instant classic [that] boils down an entire year of debate into a neat, 11-minute package.”


Health Plans May Have to Submit Rate Hikes to Regulators

The Chicago Tribute
March 11, 2010


A bill that would require health plans to submit their rate increases to government regulators before they take effect is gaining momentum in Congress.




New Law Allows Patients to Price Shop Before Accessing Care

Fierce HealthCare

March 11, 2010


Wisconsin bill signed into law on Tuesday forces providers to reveal the median costs of common test and procedures. Signed by Gov. Jim Doyle, the Health Care Transparency Bill will give patients a better idea of their out-of-pocket costs and effectively enables them to price shop, he said.


Heart Angiograms Show No Disease in Almost 40%

March 10, 2010


Doctors may be sending patients too quickly for elective angiograms to detect heart disease, exposing them to radiation and driving up U.S. health-care costs, a study suggests.


State news


Va. Assembly Approves Bill to Bar Health-Insurance Mandate

The Washington Post
March 11, 2010

The Virginia General Assembly has given final approval to a bill that would make it illegal for the government to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a measure intended to conflict with Democratic efforts to reform health care in Washington. Related: Can the States Nullify Health Care Reform?, The New England Journal of Medicine

FL: Grand Jury is Probing Jackson Health System
The Miami Herald
March 10, 2010


With Jackson executives using end-of-life terms like ``death spiral'' and ``insolvency'' and a grand jury starting to investigate the public health system's problems, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said Wednesday he would help get Jackson get a short-term loan but demanded its governing body speed up a decision on a recovery plan.


Mass.: Pricey Imaging Pushes Up Health Costs

The Boston Globe
March 11, 2010


In just two years, spending on MRIs, mammograms, and other imaging tests climbed by at least $214 million in Massachusetts, helping to fuel a dramatic rise in the cost of outpatient hospital care.




AMA Wants Permanent Fix on Physician Pay Issue

HealthLeaders Media

March 11, 2010

The president of the American Medical Association criticized the Senate's vote on Wednesday to delay a 21.2 % physician pay cut in Medicare until October 1, saying it is "pushing the problem off into the near future."

Reform efforts


Obama wants side deals out of bill

March 11, 2010

President Barack Obama is pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to go further than Obama has previously disclosed to strip the final health care reform bill of the narrow deals aimed at appeasing specific senators.

How to Think about Future Health Care Spending
New England Journal of Medicine
March 2010

Victor R. Fuchs, Ph.D., writes about two critical problems related to future health care spending — one empirical, the other conceptual.



Employers Plan to Shift More Health-Care Costs to Workers, Survey Reports

The Washington Post
March 11, 2010

Most big employers plan to shift a larger share of health-care costs to their workers next year, according to a survey to be released Thursday.



Nonprofit Health Brands Rank High in Trust, According to Study

HealthLeaders Media

March 11, 2010


Healthcare brands are among the most trusted, according to Harris Interactive study. Among all brands in the study, St. Jude's Research Hospital and Susan G. Komen for the Cure both ranked among the top 10 on the trust attribute. Looking only at nonprofits, St. Jude's Research Hospital, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Doctors without Borders were in the top 10. New to the study this year and in the top 10 are Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic.

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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