KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 6, 2010

Today's health policy headlines include news about GOP efforts to repeal the health reform law as well as state-related developments.

KHN Column – Insuring Your Health: Should Patients Get Contraceptives From Health Plans At No Cost?
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "The average American woman who wants two children spends roughly five years trying to get pregnant or being pregnant. She spends a much longer time - 30 years, on average - trying to avoid pregnancy, often at no small expense. That may soon change, at least the expense part" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column – Back To The Future: CBO Budget Predictions And Health Reform
In this Kaiser Health news column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Here we are again, arguing about whether health care reform will make the government's balance sheet better or worse. The occasion for this latest round of debate is a new report by the Congressional Budget Office--one that predicts what the entire federal budget will look like several decades into the future" (Kaiser Health News). 

First Health Overhaul Provisions Start To Kick In
The first stage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is expected to provide coverage to about 1 million uninsured Americans by next year, according to government estimates. That's a small share of the uninsured, but in a shaky economy, experts say it's notable (The Associated Press).

States Not Thrilled With Fed Rate Role
Some state insurance commissioners are pushing back against a renewed effort on the Hill to centralize the authority of health insurance premium rate reviews under the secretary of Health and Human Services (Politico). 

Senate Bill To Repeal Health Reform Lacks Backing From Republican Leaders
Although they've called repeatedly for repeal of the Democrats' new health reform law, some senior Senate Republicans have not endorsed a bill that would actually do it (The Hill). 

GOP Targets Antiabortion Democrats Who Backed Health-Care Reform
Rep. Steve Driehaus (D) was among a half-dozen holdouts who voted for the health-care overhaul only after being assured that taxpayer money would not be used to pay for abortions (The Washington Post). 

Obama And Supreme Court May Be On Collision Course
The president and congressional Democrats have embarked on an ambitious drive to regulate corporations, banks, health insurers and the energy industry. But the high court, with Roberts increasingly in control, will have the final word on those regulatory laws. Many legal experts foresee a clash between Obama's progressive agenda and the conservative court. … Already, the healthcare overhaul law, Obama's signal achievement, is under attack in the courts. Republican attorneys general from 20 states have sued, insisting the law and its mandate to buy health insurance exceed Congress' power and trample on states' rights (Los Angeles Times).

Dell Puts Hope In Health-Services Unit
Dell Inc. hopes customers like Methodist Hospital System will help cure what ails it. Methodist has contracted with Dell's services since December 2009 to help it create and maintain an electronic medical records system. Dell's technicians are also customizing software for Houston-based Methodist's 2,600 doctors so those records can be accessed by staff at any of its four community hospitals (The Wall Street Journal).

Veterans Affairs Head Blasts Administration Over Hospital Incident
The Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee lambasted the Obama administration over its handling of an incident at a St. Louis VA center in which more than 1,800 veterans were told they may have been exposed to HIV (The Hill).

Health Payment Overhaul Shelved
The state's ambitious, first-in-the-nation plan to transform how hospitals and doctors are paid is on hold, at least for this year, largely because of disagreements among key officials, legislators, and providers over how best to control health care spending (The Boston Globe).

Uninsured Virginians May Lose Free Dental Care
Advocates for uninsured Virginians say slow action from state and federal officials means that thousands of residents who could have received free dental care this summer will go unserved unless Congress intervenes (The Washington Post).

Taking Medical Jargon Out Of Doctors' Visits
Nearly nine out of 10 adults have difficulty following routine medical advice, largely because it's often incomprehensible to average people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. And that's bad for health care: Confused by scientific jargon, doctors' instructions and complex medical phrases, patients are more likely to skip necessary medical tests or fail to properly take their medications, the agency says. Studies show that poor health literacy drives up costs to the health-care system and worsens patient outcomes (The Wall Street Journal). 

Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via e-mail. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.