March 31, 2010


Ron Kind holds discussion on health care law

Tuesday, Congressman Ron Kind held a press conference to discuss how he sees it affecting western Wisconsin. Local representatives from area hospitals were also on hand to weigh in on the discussion. Ron Kind called the health care reform law the most sweeping health care measure in our lifetime.


Dr. Robert Nesse... while Mayo Clinic does not take a position for or against the bill from the start...Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Clinic here in La Crosse represented by franciscan skemp health care are committed to assist in anyway we can with effective implementation of this plan as well as the development of future patient-centered care.


WXOW, 3/30/2010


Local health providers respond to bill

Although they don't think it's perfect, local health care providers agree President Barack Obama's historic health-care reform bill is a step in the right direction…


While Mayo Clinic does not traditionally take positions for or against overall legislation, Jeffrey Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center, said, "We continue to strongly believe that the status quo is not acceptable and have consistently said there must be two key principles in any successful reform measure: incentives for doctors and hospitals to offer the highest quality care at the most reasonable cost, and a means to enable all Americans to purchase health insurance."


Decorah Newspapers, by Lissa Greiner, 3/30/2010



Top stories


President Obama Takes Final Steps on Health Reform


March 31, 2010


President Barack Obama went across the Potomac River on Tuesday to put the final touches on health care reform and enact a massive overhaul of the nation’s student loan system. Related: The Last Piece in Place, The New York Times

US System May Be Next for Health Innovator
The Boston Globe
March 31, 2010

Donald Berwick, a pediatrician and Harvard Medical School professor, is President Obama's choice to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A White House spokesman confirmed the nomination, expected to be official soon.

Insurers to Comply With Rules on Children
The New York Times
March 31, 2010

Under pressure from the White House, health insurance companies said Tuesday that they would comply with rules to be issued soon by the Obama administration requiring them to cover children with pre-existing medical problems.

Business Bids to Shape Health Changes (subscription required; full text below)
The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2010

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning a broad effort to blunt the health overhaul by trying to shape its regulatory language and spending heavily to unseat vulnerable Democrats who voted for it.



Health Reform Targets Patient-Centered Outcomes

Fierce Healthcare

March 30, 2010


Health reform has provided a significant boost to comparative effectiveness research, but experts are split on how much such research can rein in costs unless healthcare providers have incentives to curb overutilization.


Risks Seen in Cholesterol Drug Use in Healthy People

The New York Times
March 31, 2010


A drug giant is about to expand the market for its cholesterol medication, but some experts say that these drugs are not safe as preventive medicine.


Multi-Hospital Health Systems: Best Practices for High-Quality Care

Fierce Healthcare

March 31, 2010


What makes a high-performing healthcare system tick? Success isn't tied to the specific practices that system leaders employ to improve care. Rather, high-quality care is directly linked to "the execution of those practices and the creation of a culture that supports performance improvement," says the Chicago-based Health Research & Educational Trust in a new study.


Thompson Reuters Announces Top 100 Hospitals
Thompson Reuters
March 29, 2010


Thomson Reuters today released its annual study identifying the 100 top U.S. hospitals based on their overall organizational performance.


Wellness/Chronic Care


A TV Show and Congress Tackle School Lunches

The New York Times

March 31, 2010


Lawmakers, a reality-show chef and now a blogger are all tackling poor nutrition in the school lunchroom.


Schools on front lines in obesity battle


March 25, 2010

Addressing the nutritional value of school lunch programs is a priority for the nation's schools, as many children eat two of their three meals each day at school. Critics of school food programs say they are notorious for serving low-quality, cheap, processed food.


State news


MN: Excise Tax Has Local Medical Device Makers Concerned

March 29, 2010


The new health care law will bring a raft of changes to the medical industry, including an excise tax on many medical devices, and the tax is causing a lot of consternation in one of Minnesota's most prominent industries.


FL: Cost Issues Remain Despite Healthcare Reforms

The Miami Herald

March 31, 2010

In a crucial issue for South Florida, one of the two original major components of healthcare reform was pushed to the background by the time the bill was finished last week -- controlling America's world-highest healthcare costs.

Proctor: Medicaid Bill Probable

The St. Augustine Record

March 31, 2010


State Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, predicted Tuesday that a bill that "restrains" Medicaid costs will most likely be presented to the Legislature this session.


Tax Urged to Boost Arizona Health Care

AZ Central
March 31, 2010


The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association will file an initiative that would raise the state income tax rate on high-earning residents to help pay the health-care tab for the state's neediest kids and adults.


Some States Reject Health Reform Lawsuits as Others Prepare to Join the Fray

March 31, 2010


A roundup of where some of the states stand on health reform lawsuits:


Georgia Attorney General Spurns Suit on Health Care, The New York Times

Dem AGs Rebuff GOP Govs on Health-Care Lawsuits, AP/Yahoo News

UW Panelists Say Lawsuits Challenging Health Bill Lack Merit, The Seattle Times

California Should Seek to Block Healthcare Plan, Whitman Says, The Los Angeles Times


Reform Impact


ObamaCare Rules For Paying Doctors Might Spur Exodus

Investor’s Business Daily

March 30, 2010


Two provisions of the new health overhaul law "may accelerate a trend" of doctors leaving their profession.


Physicians Respond to Health Care Reform


March 31, 2010


Seventeen doctors interviewed about the new health overhaul had mixed views. While they applauded the ideal of greater access to medical care, they didn't necessarily approve of how Congress decided to deliver it to people.


Physicians' Group Sues to Overturn Health Reform

HealthLeaders Media

March 31, 2010


The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has filed a lawsuit to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, claiming the health reform mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional under the Fifth and 10th amendments, the Commerce Clause, and the authority to tax.




Small Businesses Fret Over Details of Health Law

The Washington Post

March 31, 2010


As business owners across the country weigh the new law, they're looking to Massachusetts for harbingers of things to come.


Small Businesses Wary of Health Care Reform Law

March 31, 2010


Small businesses will be among the first in line to take advantage of provisions under federal health care reform. President Obama hailed the tax credits designed to make health plans more affordable. But some business owners say the tax credit doesn't reduce the cost of health insurance enough.


Health Information Technology


27 Senators Call for Changes to Proposed 'Meaningful Use' Rule

March 30, 2010


A bipartisan group of 27 senators sent a letter to acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera calling for changes to the agency's proposed rule on the "meaningful use" of electronic health records.


Thomson Reuters Presents Whitepaper on Formation of Health Information Exchanges

Thomson Reuters
March 29, 2010

Despite widespread support for Health Information Exchanges as a means of sharing electronic patient information across providers, few state governments agree on the best approach to implementing them. After examining current HIE proposals, historical precedents and case studies of successful prototype programs, Thomson Reuters has outlined ten best practices for implementing statewide HIEs.


Business Bids to Shape Health Changes
The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2010

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning a broad effort to blunt the health overhaul by trying to shape its regulatory language and spending heavily to unseat vulnerable Democrats who voted for it.

The campaign is the latest example of the escalating tensions between proponents of the health overhaul and big businesses, which have become more specific in their criticisms of the new law.

In recent days, a handful of large companies have reported hefty charges because the law eliminates a tax deduction for firms that offer prescription-drug coverage to retirees.

In a letter to board members Monday, chamber president and chief executive Thomas J. Donohue said the business lobby will seek changes to regulations to "minimize the potentially harmful impacts of this bill on our members and the country." If regulators "exceed legislative mandates or try for end-runs around the lawful rule-making process," he wrote, the chamber "will take legal action."

Mr. Donohue also said the group planned to spend $50 million this summer and fall to ensure that voters in pivotal House and Senate races know where lawmakers stand on health and other big issues. The chamber spent $36.4 million in the 2008 election.

At the heart of the effort will be a team of chamber staff that will "participate in the years-long process of writing the thousands of pages of federal regulations that will implement the many provisions of this legislation," Mr. Donohue wrote.

While the chamber can't actually write those provisions, it can lobby for certain language and technical corrections.

Other major lobbies are readying similar efforts. Although the legislation contains more than 2,000 pages of provisions, many details are left to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to define, and will require more specific regulatory language.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry's main lobbying group, has formed a task force to coordinate its implementation efforts and plans to give its input as officials draw up the regulations.

The American Medical Association, which represents doctors, hopes to shape provisions including a new panel to impose Medicare payment cuts, as well as increased research comparing the effectiveness of medical treatments, according to a spokeswoman for the group.

Major groups that supported the bill also plan to spend heavily on the 2010 elections. The AFL-CIO labor organization plans to surpass the $53 million it spent during the 2008 elections in this year's fall races.

Meanwhile, Families USA, a liberal advocacy group, has teamed with insurers to launch an educational campaign that will help people sign up for insurance at places like doctors' offices and pharmacies.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law the final package of changes to the health overhaul. The $938 billion overhaul will extend health insurance to 32 million Americans by expanding the Medicaid federal-state insurance program for the poor and giving lower earners tax credits to offset the cost of buying care.

In exchange, most Americans will be required to carry insurance and employers will be required to help pay for it.

Lawrence Summers, chairman of the president's National Economic Council, said Tuesday that the bill would help large firms in multiple ways. For instance, he said, employers now pay about $1,000 per worker more for insurance to subsidize medical care for the uninsured, an amount the new law would reduce.

"The bill represents our nation's most serious effort ever at health-care cost control, which ultimately addresses for many of these businesses what is their largest cost," Mr. Summers said.

In his letter, Mr. Donohue contended the law would impose $569 billion in new and higher taxes that would eliminate jobs, increase insurance premiums and prompt millions of workers to leave employer plans for government-subsidized insurance. The organization, which says it represents three million employers, was among the most vocal opponents of the legislation while Congress assembled it.

In recent days, a number of large companies, including insurer Prudential Financial Inc., telecom giant AT&T Inc. and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. have announced millions of dollars in charges to offset the tax change on retirees' prescription-drug benefits.

In his letter, Mr. Donohue criticized House Democrats for calling the companies to appear before Congress next month to explain the charges.

"They are searching for a way to blame these businesses for a mess that the lawmakers themselves have made," he wrote.

Democrats said they would fight attempts by business to oppose the bill's changes.

"There's going to be a lot of different players in the health-care field that are going to want changes made to protect what they've had in the past," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa). "I don't think we're going to be too anxious to continue the kind of subsidies we've had in the past that drain so much money out of the health-care system."

Tags: health care reform, Health Policy, Health Policy

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