KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 16, 2010

Today's headlines reflect coverage of state health reform implementation issues as well as other emerging policy issues in the nation's health system.

KHN Column: Medicaid Cutbacks Not The Same As Private Insurance Rescission
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Everywhere you look, Medicaid seems to be in jeopardy. The program provides health insurance for the very poor, but depends on state funding and, right now, the states don't have any to spare. Last week, President Barack Obama signed a law that will give the states additional money, enough to avoid the worst cuts. But when that money runs out, in the middle of 2011, those cuts could be back on the agenda" (Kaiser Health News).

Some States Are Lacking In Health Law Authority
Faced with the need to review insurance rates and enforce a panoply of new rights granted to consumers, states are scrambling to make sure they have the necessary legal authority to carry out the responsibilities being placed on them by President Obama's health care law (The New York Times).

States Look To Grants To Help Curb Insurance Rate Hikes
States plan to use $46 million in grants under the nation's new health law to help curb health insurance rate increases for consumers by seeking new regulatory powers, hiring rate experts and posting insurance company financial documents on the Web, according to grant application details (USA Today).

Are Bigger Health-Care Networks Better Or Just Creating A Monopoly?
Railroads put this city on the map, but the king of the domain is now health care -- or rather, the Carilion Clinic. Carilion owns the two hospitals in town and six others in the region, employs 550 doctors and has set off a bitter local debate: Is its dominance a new model for health care or a blatant attempt to corner the market? (The Washington Post).

Democrats Hope Medicare Checks In The Mail Help
A check from Uncle Sam gets your attention, even if the money doesn't help that much with the bills. More than 750,000 Medicare recipients with high prescription costs each got a $250 government check this summer, and 3 million-plus more checks are going out to people who land in the program's anxiety-inducing coverage gap. Democrats, running scared in an election year, are trying to overcome older people's mistrust of the new health care law, which expands coverage for younger generations by cutting Medicare payments to hospitals and insurers (The Associated Press).

Future Of Children's Healthcare Program Already Under Debate
Though years away, the expiration of the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is already getting some attention on Capitol Hill (The Hill).

Innovative Health Programs Counter Primary Care Shortage
About 65 million Americans live in communities with a shortage of primary care doctors, physicians trained to meet the majority of patients' health care needs over the course of their lives (USA Today).

FDA Considers Revoking Approval Of Avastin For Advanced Breast Cancer
Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope (The Washington Post).

Aging Inmates Straining Prison Systems
Curtis Ballard rides a motorized wheelchair around his prison ward, which happens to be the new assisted living unit - a place of many windows and no visible steel bars - at Washington's Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (The Associated Press).

Drew University's New Nursing School Opens Under Financial Cloud
Even as the doors open this month on a new $43-million building to house the inaugural nursing class at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, the university's interim president warned that the long-struggling institution is already in danger of losing the facility (Los Angeles Times).

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