First Edition: September 12, 2012
Today's headlines include news about former President Bill Clinton's role on the presidential campaign trail as well as reports from Capitol Hill and details of a new survey regarding health insurance costs.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Medicare Pilot Program Shows Cost Savings Treating Dual-Eligibles
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Shefali S. Kulkarni reports: "Researchers Tuesday released a deeper look at the Physician Group Practice Demonstration, one of the federal government's first pay-for-performance experiments to improve health care and reduce costs for the Medicare population. They found that it created significant savings — especially for dual eligibles, which is the population who receives health coverage through both Medicare and Medicaid and who are often the health system's sickest and costliest patients" (Kulkarni, 9/11). Check out what else is on the blog.
The New York Times: Embracing Role As Surrogate, Clinton Hits Campaign Trail
Speaking to a sellout crowd of 2,300 at Florida International University, Mr. Clinton reprised much of the detail-laden defense of Mr. Obama's first term that he delivered in Charlotte, N.C. He lavished special attention on two particularly resonant issues in a state with many students and older voters: education loans and health care. Repealing Mr. Obama's health care law, as Mitt Romney has pledged to do, would "weaken Medicare; it's going to run out of money quicker," Mr. Clinton said. The Republicans, he said, would cut off the access of students to low-interest federal loans, which could put college out of reach for many middle-income people (Landler, 9/11).
Los Angeles Times: Bill Clinton Focuses On Medicare In Speech For Obama In Florida
Launching a two-day campaign swing in senior-heavy Florida, former President Clinton pushed back Tuesday against what he described as Republican scare tactics over healthcare programs for older Americans — then provided his own frightening predictions about what would happen to seniors if Mitt Romney became president. Clinton said the Republican nominee was misleading voters by arguing that President Obama's healthcare overhaul "robbed Medicare of $716 billion," noting that the money would mainly be cut from future payments to hospitals and insurance companies, not beneficiaries. The issue has particular resonance in this state, which has the largest proportion of over-65 voters in the country (West, 9/11).
The Washington Post: In Election's Last Weeks, Obama Campaign Deploys Bill Clinton To Battleground States
For 41 statistic-filled, wonky minutes, former president Bill Clinton held forth to an adoring crowd at Florida International University about the economy, health care, taxes and the national debt, reprising remarks he made on behalf of President Obama at last week's Democratic National Convention. An appreciative Obama borrowed a Twitter joke and gave Clinton the new "secretary" nickname. … Obama campaign officials believe that the former president's popularity is near universal and that he can be successfully deployed in all the major battlegrounds of the nation. In addition to Florida, they indicated that he will campaign in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire and will headline fundraisers on both coasts (Helderman, 9/11).
The New York Times: A Silver Tinge To The Political Ring
It's hard to come by numbers to describe how many retirees are going into politics. But organizations on the left and the right say that this year's election may be an especially active one for people of retirement age. It is the first presidential contest since the advent of the Tea Party movement, which has been driven largely by voters age 65 and older. And factors like President Obama's health care overhaul, which survived a Supreme Court challenge this summer, and the vice-presidential candidacy of Mr. Ryan, a leading advocate of changes to programs like Medicare and Social Security, have sharpened the debate on issues especially important to people of retirement age, the fastest-growing age group in the United States (Zernike, 9/11).
Los Angeles Times: Boehner 'Not Confident' Budget Deal Can Be Reached
As Moody's Investors Service threatened to downgrade the United States' top debt rating, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday he doubted Congress could reach a bipartisan budget deal to avoid that potentially dangerous outcome. "I'm not confident at all," Boehner told reporters. Yet the political dynamic remains the same now as it did then: Republicans refuse to raise taxes by allowing current tax rates on wealthier Americans to expire, as the president wants; Democrats resist cuts to Medicare or other domestic programs unless the GOP agrees to new revenue (Mascaro, 9/11).
The Washington Post: Democrats In Congress Try To Put Paul Ryan Back In Campaign Spotlight
With Congress back for its first full day of a brief fall session, Democrats used the moment to attack Ryan's long-standing proposal to reshape federal entitlement programs, as well as some of his recent statements on the campaign trail. … From floor speeches to news conferences, Democrats used every chance to poke at the House Budget Committee chairman. For the second straight day, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) lampooned Ryan's erroneous claim that he ran a marathon in less than three hours. Reid suggested that Ryan's misstatement was intentional and compared it to what he called "obstruction" by Senate Republicans (Kane, 9/11).
NPR: Insurance Costs Rise, But More Slowly
If you get health insurance on the job, chances are it cost more again this year. Annual family health insurance premiums rose about 4 percent to $15,745 in 2012, according to the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. Now that's a fairly modest increase by historical standards, and well down from last year's 9 percent (Rovner, 9/11).
The Washington Post: Cost Of Employer-Sponsored Coverage Rises 4 Percent Over Past Year
The cost of employer-sponsored family health insurance rose a moderate 4 percent over the past year, a sharp slowdown from the surges in premiums that were typical before the recession but still faster than workers' wages and inflation, according to a report released Tuesday (Aizenman, 9/11).
The New York Times: Health Care Premiums Rise Slightly
A family with employer-provided health insurance now pays just under $16,000 in annual premiums, an increase of about 4 percent over a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. Individual policies purchased through an employer rose even less, increasing just 3 percent from last year to an average of $5,615, the study said (Abelson, 9/11).
Los Angeles Times: Health Insurance Premiums Rise A Moderate 4%
Still, even modest increases in healthcare costs are difficult to absorb for many businesses and workers struggling to cope with a sluggish economy. Health premiums have been on an unrelenting march upward for years, and many employers have shifted more of those costs to workers (Terhune, 9/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: How High Can They Go/ Annual Premiums For Job-Based family Health Plans Hit $15,745, Up 4%
The annual survey released Tuesday by two major research groups served as a glaring reminder that the nation’s problem of unaffordable medical care is anything but solved (9/11).
The Wall Street Journal: Health-Plan Costs Rise More Slowly
The smaller increase, to an annual total of $15,745 from $15,073 last year, likely reflects employees' continued tendency to limit their use of medical care, which reins in coverage costs, said Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation. The nonprofit performed the annual poll of employers along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association (Mathews, 9/11).
The New York Times: New Medical Care Networks Show Savings
The sweeping law … encourages the creation of "accountable care organizations" — networks of hospitals, doctors groups and other health care providers that collaborate to keep a defined group of patients healthier. The groups share in the savings if they meet quality and cost targets. The study, which is being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a predecessor to accountable care organizations achieved particular savings in caring for patients eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Many of those patients have multiple, severe health conditions and are especially expensive: The nation's nine million "dual eligibles," as they are known, make up 15 percent of the Medicaid population but account for 39 percent of the program’s spending (Goodnough, 9/11).
The New York Times: As Medicare Fraud Evolves, Vigilance Is Required
Medicare abuse and fraud like this costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or C.M.S., estimated that in 2010, the two programs together made more than $65 billion in improper federal payments. An April 2012 study by a RAND Corporation analyst and former C.M.S. administrator estimated that fraud and abuse cost Medicare and Medicaid as much as $98 billion in 2011. In addition to the cost, Medicare fraud can jeopardize patients’ health (Konrad, 9/11).
Politico: Karl Rove Disputes Book's Claim He Urged Komen Retreat
A book by a former official at Susan G. Komen for the Cure alleges that Karl Rove told the charity to reverse its decision to end its cancer screening funding of Planned Parenthood — raising eyebrows among conservatives who wanted Komen to stand firm amid the uproar. Rove says it ain't so — but he won't say what part ain't so (Smith and Nather, 9/12).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Judges: Idaho Woman Lacks Standing To Fight Fetal Pain Abortion Law; Other Challenges OK
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ended an Idaho woman's challenge of a law banning some abortions that might cause fetal pain, saying she didn't have legal standing to contest it because she wasn't charged with that crime (9/11).
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