KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: NY Times On Uninsured; Wilensky’s ‘Sobering Reflection’; Caring For Aging Parents

The New York Times: Bleak News On Health Insurance
Nearly one million more Americans went without health insurance in 2010 than in 2009. ... The only consolation was that government insurance programs were able to mitigate some of the damage. ... The new health care reforms will expand Medicaid coverage for the poor and provide subsidies to help middle-income people buy private health insurance (9/14). 

McClatchy: Positive Effect Of The Affordable Care Act
The Obama administration has released a new regulation to streamline Medicaid eligibility and take steps to coordinate existing programs with the new health insurance Exchanges being created by the Affordable Care Act. The administration's proposal would coordinate Exchange enrollment and Medicaid/CHIP enrollment, meaning that families will have "no wrong door" when trying to find health insurance (Dr. O. Marion Burton, 9/14). 

The Wall Street Journal: Mediscare Flops
One of the few remaining themes for Democrats to run on in 2012 is that the GOP wants to throw seniors to the wolves by ending Medicare. That strategy got a workout in Tuesday's special House elections in Nevada and New York, and maybe Mediscare should now be scratched off the campaign list too, along with stimulus, national health care and the other priorities of the Obama Presidency (9/15).

New England Journal of Medicine: Lessons from the Physician Group Practice Demonstration — A Sobering Reflection
In early August, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the results of the Physician Group Practice (PGP) Demonstration project. Although the headline of the press release was glowing — "Physician Group Practice Demonstration Succeeds in Improving Quality and Reducing Costs" — the reported information suggests more mixed results. These results should dampen unreasonable expectations, particularly in terms of potential savings, for accountable care organizations (ACOs), which were modeled after the PGP demo (Gail R. Wilensky, 9/14).

The New York Times: The Bachmann Chronicles
As we've all learned, Bachmann's strong points are her passion and determination, while her weak ones include a rather free-floating relationship with reality. This week, she scored a Tea Party version of a home run when she laced into Rick Perry for trying to require girls in Texas public schools to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer (Gail Collins, 9/14). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Political Nonsense
Texas Gov. Rick Perry believes evolution is "just a theory" with "gaps," …. [Rep. Michele Bachmann] believes a vaccination for a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer can cause "mental retardation." No matter that the federal Institute of Medicine says the vaccination is safe. Do Perry and Bachmann actually believe these things? Or does bashing science play to the religious right or tea partyers? Whatever the answer, such outlandish claims need to be challenged (9/14).

Chicago Tribune: Needed: A Panic Vaccine 
Perry has retreated under attack from fellow conservatives. One allegation is that he made the decision to repay drug-maker Merck, a longtime campaign contributor. That might explain his unusual willingness to mandate the vaccine even though public health groups were not in favor of compulsion (Steve Chapman, 9/15).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Maryland's Hospital Cost Review Commission At 40
In 1971, the state of Maryland established the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) to regulate the rates that hospitals in the state could receive from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers. Although other states once regulated hospital rates, only in Maryland does the practice continue. ... The Maryland experience demonstrates that an enlightened independent public utility can be empowered to successfully stem inflationary growth in hospital spending (Dr. John A. Kastor and Dr. Eli Y. Adashi, 9/14). 

New England Journal of Medicine: 'Pay for Delay' Settlements of Disputes over Pharmaceutical Patents 
New legislation that permits the FTC greater leeway in preventing the most economically damaging settlements, or that helps stem the essential problem of invalid pharmaceutical patents, could do much to protect the interests of health care consumers. Whether Congress or the Supreme Court will be persuaded to stem the pay-for-delay tide, however, remains to be seen (Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, Lindsey Murtagh and Michelle M. Mello, 9/14).

The Sacramento Bee: The Ultimate Fear Of 'Contagion' Tests Trust In Health Care 
"Contagion" can be used as a great public health teaching tool. If we recognize the impact of a severe pandemic on society, the movie will provide benefit. If we can begin discussion on how our health care system and its providers will make critical decisions, from allocation of resources to worker protection, the film will have succeeded in shifting public perception (Christian Sandrock, 9/15). 

KQED: Penny Wise
Some people confuse [adult day health center] with senior bingo. Not even close! My mom is like thousands of ADHC clients getting medically supervised daytime care. For most participants the next stop is a nursing home. Centers have nurses and physical therapists and even offer daily wheelchair-friendly transportation. For many families, ADHC is the only way the family caregiver can hold down a job (Tammy Pilisuk, 9/14).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Scorecard Confirms Experience Of Good And Bad Elder Care
In moving my father from a New Jersey hospital to a Massachusetts rehab facility and then to assisted living, the question always posed with each transition –- prior to discussing need — was about my father's Medicaid coverage. Medicaid allowances controlled the length of my father's hospital stay. They controlled our choice of rehab facility and length of stay. And they ensured that Medicaid would not support my father's residence in an assisted living facility (Fran Cronin, 9/14).

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