KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: October 18, 2011

In today's headlines, reports about the emerging strategies to undo the 2010 health law.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Helping Patients Know Their 'Medical Mind' Can Ease Uncertainly
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "Medical decisions can seem overwhelming, especially when you're sick and scared. In their new book, 'Your Medical Mind: How To Decide What Is Right For You,' oncologist and New Yorker writer Jerome Groopman and his wife, endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband, team up to help readers recognize the many influences on their medical decisions and encourage them to chart their own path. They recently discussed their book with me" (10/18). Read the interview.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: ER Docs Focus on Medical Liability Reforms; The Nation's Long-Term Care Puzzle Left Unsolved; AARP, Iowa Hospitals Launch Ads Defending Medicare, Medicaid
Now on the blog, Jessica Marcy reports: "The number of emergency room visits in the U.S. rose nearly 13 million in 2009 – about 10 percent — to more than 136 million visits.  … Statistics like this, combined with changes that will result as the 2010 health law is implemented, have led some emergency room doctors to focus on medical liability reform as a means to reduce the nation's health care costs by discouraging the practice of defensive medicine (10/18). Also on the blog, Christian Torres writes about how advocates are reacting to the Obama administration's position on the CLASS program (10/17). And, Karl Eisenhower spots two new ads related to efforts to protect Medicare and Medicaid (10/17). Read what's new on Capsules.

Politico: Olympia Snowe Breaks From GOP On Health Care
Sen. Olympia Snowe, the most moderate Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, parted ways with her GOP colleagues over their calls for tighter Medicare eligibility and Medicaid block grants, according to aides. Snowe was one of two GOP committee members who didn’t sign onto the Finance Committee Republican recommendations to the deficit supercommittee. The other was Jon Kyl of Arizona, and his absence was less notable because he’s a member of the debt panel (Dobias, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: Republicans Lay Groundwork For Healthcare Repeal
Republican activists, increasingly optimistic they can win the White House and Senate next year, are beginning to lay the groundwork for a multi-pronged campaign in 2013 to roll back President Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul. The push includes an effort to pressure Republican candidates to commit to using every available tool to fully repeal the law, a tactic pioneered by conservative activist Grover Norquist, who made an anti-tax pledge de rigeur for GOP politicians (Levey, 10/17).

The New York Times: A Tea Party Panel Supports Health Care Law’s Repeal
A Tea Party commission trying to "crowd-source" a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit says it found broad support for repealing the health care legislation passed last year and eliminating entire federal departments, but much less enthusiasm for changes to Medicare and Social Security (Zernike, 10/17).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: After Saying Long-Term Care Plan Isn't Workable, White House Says It Doesn't Support Repeal
The White House appeared to waffle Monday on the fate of a financially troubled long-term care program in President Barack Obama's health overhaul law, as supporters and foes heaped criticism on the administration (10/17).

Politico: Medicare Eyes Hospice For Savings
Hospice faces about $7 billion in Medicare payment reductions over a decade under the health care reform law. On top of that, the summer's debt reduction deal will trigger a 2 percent cut in 2013 — unless the deficit supercommittee reaches its own agreement (Kenen, 10/17).

The New York Times: Massachusetts Tries To Rein In Its Health Costs
On the Republican campaign trail, the health care debate has focused on the mandatory coverage that Mitt Romney signed into law as governor in 2006. But back in Massachusetts the conversation has moved on, and lawmakers are now confronting the problem that Mr. Romney left unaddressed: the state's spiraling health care costs (Goodnough and Sack, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: Southland Hospitals To Get Blue Shield Grants
Eighteen teams of healthcare providers will share $20 million in grants from Blue Shield of California to form new partnerships aimed at delivering medical care more efficiently, company officials said. The recipients that will receive their grants by Dec. 1 include St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena (Helfand, 10/18).

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