KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: January 24, 2012

In today's news, a new survey shows that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance coverage rose for the fourth straight year in 2011.

Kaiser Health News: Calculating A Long-Term Care Policy: Will It Cover Your Needs, Can You Pay For It And Can You Afford Not To Have It?
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Caroline E. Mayer writes: "The question of whether to get long-term care insurance bedevils consumers and their advisers. Unlike medical insurance, it is intended primarily to cover people who need assistance with so-called activities of daily living -- for example, the care of a dementia patient or someone recovering from a broken hip. It can be expensive: Premiums range from $1,000 to $5,000 a year, depending on the age, sex and health of the purchaser as well as the extent of the coverage. And policy details can be confusing" (Mayer, 1/23).

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Hospitals Seek To Attract Business With Patient Perks
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "A growing number of hospitals are seeking to attract new patients and keep existing one by offering them an array of perks, from free parking and gift-shop discounts to wellness seminars and health screenings. Some of the most popular programs are social mixers that have nothing to do with health care. Field trip to a casino, anyone?" (Andrews, 1/23).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Panel Sidesteps Controversy On Draft For Comparative Effectiveness Research
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Julie Appleby reports: "The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) — created by the health law to help determine the most effective medical treatments — released its draft priorities and research agenda on Monday, but it did not single out any specific diseases, treatments or procedures to study" (Appleby, 1/23). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Won't Hear Arguments Demanding Kagan's Recusal From Health Care Case
The Supreme Court won’t hear arguments from a conservative watchdog group that wants Justice Elena Kagan disqualified from deciding the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's national health care overhaul (1/23).

Politico: Survey: Uninsured Rose In 2011
The percentage of Americans lacking health insurance coverage rose for the fourth straight year in 2011 to 17.1 percent, a new survey showed Tuesday. The climb has been steady since Gallup began tracking whether adults have health insurance in 2008. Four years ago, only 14.8 percent of adults lacked health insurance (Mak, 1/24).

Politico: States Waiting On Scotus Could Hamper Exchanges
Uncertainty over the fate of health reform, centered on the Supreme Court case and the presidential election, has led some states to adopt a wait-and-see approach that may make it impossible for them to meet Health and Human Service's timeline for building their own insurance exchanges. With legislatures convening for their 2012 sessions, more states may adopt the same stance, jeopardizing their shot at exercising full control over their new insurance marketplaces when January 2014 arrives (Norman and Millman, 1/23).

Politico: Independent Payment Advisory Board Exists In Law, Resides In Limbo
Chances are the Republicans — and a not-insignificant number of House Democratic allies — won't be able to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board this year. But for another year or two, at least, politicians don't have to lift a finger to block the Medicare cost-control agency from doing anything. For another year or two, it doesn't have much to do. Or anyone to do it (Kenen, 1/23).

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich Clash Sharply In Republican Presidential Debate
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich clashed sharply and repeatedly in a Republican presidential debate here Monday night, with the former Massachusetts governor attacking the former House speaker as a failed leader, a K Street influence peddler and a candidate who would put the party at risk in the general election. … Gingrich protested when Romney said the former speaker he had lobbied members of Congress over legislation to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare (Balz and Helderman, 1/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney On The Attack
Mr. Romney said that while he was building the company Bain Capital, serving as Massachusetts governor and managing the 2002 Winter Olympics, Mr. Gingrich was ousted from the House speakership by his fellow Republicans and then built a Washington consulting career. "This is the worst kind of trivial politics,'' Mr. Gingrich responded. He challenged Mr. Romney's own political leadership by saying the GOP lost seats in the Massachusetts legislature when Mr. Romney's was governor. … Mr. Romney said Mr. Gingrich had lobbied lawmakers to pass the Medicare part D prescription drug program in 2003, a program derided by many conservatives as government expansion but which might prove popular in Florida (Murray, Yadron and Kin, 1/24).

Los Angeles Times: John Boehner Touts Antiabortion Efforts At March For Life
House GOP leaders told antiabortion protesters Monday they would continue efforts to ensure no federal funds are spent on the procedure, singling out Democratic lawmakers who have joined their efforts (Mascaro, 1/23).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Hospital Group Offers Answers On Health Reform
A New York-based organization is offering answers to the myriad questions about health care reform. The Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council has launched a public information campaign. The council represents hospitals across Long Island. The council's Wendy Darwell says the campaign announced Monday will use social media and the council's web site to offer answers on the Affordable Health Care Act (1/24).

Los Angeles Times: Officials Oppose Extended Federal Oversight Of 2 Mental Hospitals
California officials Monday filed documents in U.S. District Court opposing extended federal oversight of two state mental hospitals, arguing that new leaders have already taken measures to improve patient care and safety (Romney, 2/24).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Art For Health Program Offered At NYC Hospital
Tony-Award winning actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and rapper and radio personality Roxanne Shante helped launch the "Lincoln Art Exchange" at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx on Monday. They were joined by hospital officials and arts organizations including the Actors' Fund and the Bronx Museum. Organizers said the program addresses the growing number of freelance and independent artists who can't afford health insurance (1/23).

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