KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 11, 2012

In today's news highlights, reports about the Obama administration's latest ACO announcement as well as a new poll exploring Americans' expectations for the Supreme Court's health law ruling.  

Kaiser Health News: ACOs Multiply As Medicare Announces 27 New Ones
Kaiser Health News staff writers Jenny Gold and Christian Torres report: "Despite uncertainty over how the Supreme Court will rule on the health law, a key provision intended to help transform the delivery of care is moving ahead. The Obama administration announced Tuesday that 27 health systems have been selected to participate in Medicare's Shared Savings Program, which offers financial incentives for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers to team up in 'accountable care organizations'" (Gold and Torres, 4/10). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Bloggers Stew Over Obama's Warning On 'Judicial Activism'; Study: Dental Therapists Thrive On A Global Scale
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Andrew Villegas checks the blogosphere's temperature and writes: "Nearly any comment from a sitting president can elicit negative feedback from opponents. But when a president takes on the Supreme Court — and raises questions about the proper role of the judiciary vis-a-vis Congress – the response can be swift and loud." Also on the blog, Shefali S. Kulkarni reports on a new study examining whether dental therapists can help address access issues - especially for children. Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post: Poll: More Americans Expect Supreme Court's Health-Care Decision To Be Political
More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama's health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Half of the public expects the justices to rule mainly based on their "partisan political views," while fewer, 40 percent, expect their decisions to be rooted primarily "on the basis of the law" (Barnes and Clement, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: Misconceptions Seen In Health Care Reform Arguments
During the recent oral arguments some of the justices and the lawyers appearing before them seemed to be under the impression that the law does not allow most consumers to buy low-cost, stripped-down insurance to satisfy its controversial coverage requirement. In fact, the law provides for a cheaper "bronze" plan that is broadly similar to today's so-called catastrophic coverage policies for individuals, several insurance experts said (4/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Report Urges New Tax On Medical Care
An influential federal advisory body called for levying a new tax on medical care to finance improvements to public-health services in the U.S. A report Tuesday from the Institute of Medicine says the U.S. health system has a "fixation" on clinical care, or treating people when they get sick, rather than preventing them from getting ill in the first place. More money from reliable sources is needed to fix the problem, said the report, which calls for the U.S. to close a gap in life expectancy with other high-income nations within 20 years (Radnofsky, 4/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Tenet Healthcare To Pay $42.75 Million To Settle Allegations
Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC -1.76%will pay $42.75 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the federal Medicare program, the Justice Department said Tuesday. The deal resolves civil allegations under the False Claims Act that Tenet overbilled for services provided at various inpatient rehabilitation facilities (Kendall, 4/10).

The New York Times: Even Without New Contracts, Many Public Employees Get Raises
In Westchester County, where all eight labor contracts have expired, the executive, Robert P. Astorino, a Republican, has sought to have union members pay a share of their health care costs. But in December, the county's largest union, the Civil Service Employees Association, balked and declared negotiations at an impasse (Hakim, 4/10). 

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