KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Perry’s Health Record, Medicare Spending Slows, Postal Service’s Health Plan Controversy

Bloomberg: Medicare Spending Slows As Hospitals Improve Care
And now for some good news: Medicare spending growth has been slowing noticeably. ... some evidence suggests it may be a shift toward value in the health-care sector. Various hospital executives have told me they have already begun to prepare for less generous reimbursement from Medicare as the new federal health-care-reform law takes effect (Peter Orszag, 8/24).

The Washington Post: Would A USPS Health-Care Plan Really Work?
If the U.S. Postal Service is successful in its plan to withdraw from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), tremors will be felt throughout the federal workforce. ... Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in an interview that a key question for USPS is, "How do you control health-care costs going forward?" Currently, the Postal Service spends $7.3 billion on heath care for employees, retirees and their dependents (Joe Davidson, 8/23). 

The Washington Post: Governor For Sale
There's a saying in Texas when someone has the swagger of success without the accomplishments to back it up: He's all hat and no cattle. Put another way: he's acting like Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). Perry has been elected governor three times and has proclaimed his state a model worth replicating at the national level. Yet Texas has the highest number of residents without health insurance in the nation ... and one of the highest teenage birth rates (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 8/23). 

(Milwaukee, Wis.) Journal Sentinel: Your Health Care Decisions Affect Costs For All
The purpose of your health insurance co-pay is to make you think before you run to the emergency room. "Do I really want to spend the $100 co-pay on this?" you should ask. "Could I see my doctor in her office for my $20 co-pay instead?" ... The insurance company is not a charity. Premiums must cover claims costs or else the insurance company will go out of business. ... Think before you go (Annette Mertens, 8/23).

(Milwaukee, Wis.) Journal Sentinel: Changes To Medicare Part D Will Hurt Seniors
[T]he bipartisan congressional deficit-reduction committee created by the recent deal to raise the debt limit is expected to consider a number of changes to health care programs. One of them would force big changes in Medicare Part D, to the detriment of seniors' health and financial stability. The proposal would introduce Medicaid's stingy system of mandatory drug manufacturer "rebates" into Medicare Part D. This potential change is being sold as a fiscally prudent reform that wouldn't affect seniors' benefits. It's not (Rob Gunderman, 8/23).

(Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) Star Tribune: The Wrong Approach To Health Care Reform
[Gov. Mark Dayton] is using federal dollars to establish the exchange despite no legislative authority to do so. Dayton is marching to the drumbeat of the Oval Office, rather than following the laws of Minnesota. The Legislature purposefully rejected the mandate to establish this federal command and control center. ... They realized the exchange would undermine state's rights, limit individual liberty and impose federal controls over personal lives (Twila Brase, 8/23).

Georgia Health News: Cuts Hurt The Most Vulnerable
Over the last eight to 10 years, the State of Georgia has cut funding for certain people with developmental disabilities by 40 percent. ... Simply put, rates must rise, or providers must be allowed to adjust their services. We must meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities and preserve the financial viability of our providers (Ralph Herndon, 8/23).

Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): Going Home on the Right Medications
Transitions of care—when patients move across care sites within the health system—pose both an opportunity and a threat to patient welfare.1? These transitions are an opportunity because they provide a chance to freshly reevaluate the patient's medical needs in a new clinical setting. In the case of hospital admission, transitions also offer an opportunity to leverage an acute illness to increase healthy behaviors (Drs. Jeremy M. Kahn and Derek C. Angus, 8/23). 

JAMA: The Promise of Electronic Records Around the Corner or Down the Road?
Despite the promise of EHRs (often referred to as electronic medical records or EMRs), recent data on their benefits have been disappointing. Although studies have consistently shown that EHRs can help clinicians adhere to guideline-based care and reduce medication errors,2,3? beyond these narrow benefits, there is little evidence that EHRs improve patient outcomes and even less evidence that they improve the efficiency of care (Dr. Ashish K. Jha, 8/23).

CNN: Bendable Electronics Will Revolutionize Health Care
Imagine a world in which electronics live outside of rigid, square boxes and can naturally bend and flex like human skin. ... In the next five years, advances in the design of these devices will bring them, quite literally, into direct contact with every aspect of our physical self. The entire health care spectrum from fitness to chronic disease management will change as a result (Ben Schlatka and John Rogers, 8/23).

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