KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 28, 2010

Today's headlines reflect developments regarding the health insurance marketplace and the implementation of the new health law.

Census Data Reveal Broad Differences Among States In Rates Of Uninsured
New census data released Tuesday confirm a huge spread in the rate of uninsured from state to state and the big difference in impact that can be expected as a result of the health-care overhaul recently passed by Congress (The Washington Post).

Healthcare Law Has More Doctors Teaming Up
As Congress debated the healthcare bill, many critics lamented it would do little to transform a system in which doctors and hospitals bounce patients around in an uncoordinated, costly, sometimes tragic process. But something unexpected has happened since President Obama signed the legislation in March. Spurred in part by the law, many independent providers across the country are racing to mold themselves into the kind of coordinated teams held up as models for improving care (Los Angeles Times).

Texas Battles Health Law Even As It Follows It
There are more uninsured residents of Texas - 6.1 million and counting - than there are people in 33 states. The state's elected officials might be expected, therefore, to cheer a federal health care law that is likely to deliver billions of dollars from Washington to Austin and cover millions of low-income Texans (The New York Times).

Cuts Loom For L.A. County Health Programs
With a federal waiver worth $150 million expiring next month, and hundreds of millions more in state and federal funds in limbo, Los Angeles County's top health officials said Tuesday that they soon may have to begin layoffs and slash the number of patients served by a third to 58% (Los Angeles Times).

For WellPoint Investors, Image Is Everything
The health-care giant, perhaps more so than competitors, understands that the coming months-as the national health overhaul unfolds-matter more than the most recent period. Trumpeting profit too loudly may make it more difficult for WellPoint to raise prices down the road, or possibly egg on regulators who soon will determine new health-care rules that could have a big impact on profit (The Wall Street Journal).

Aetna Posts Higher 2Q Profit Up 42%
Health insurer Aetna Inc. said late Tuesday its second-quarter profit rose 42 percent, as the percentage of premiums the company spent on medical care fell versus a year ago (The Associated Press).

Health Bill For 9/11 Responders To Get House Vote Wednesday
A bill guaranteeing healthcare for first responders to the World Trade Center site is scheduled for a House floor vote Wednesday, The Hill has learned (The Hill).

Democrat Sanchez Backs Effort To Extend Labor Protections To Home Care Workers
For 35 years, home care workers have been exempt from the minimum wage and overtime protections granted to the rest of the nation's workforce. This week, a House Democrat will take a step toward eliminating that discrepancy, which many in the party consider discriminatory (The Hill).

House OK's Bill Making Insurers Pay For Autism Services
The Massachusetts House passed a bill yesterday that would require insurance companies to cover a broad range of services for children with autism, a measure that supporters say will help families of such children but that opponents worry will increase health costs, even as other legislation aimed at reining in health spending has been sidelined. The proposal, which now goes to the Senate, contains mandated coverage for services known as "applied behavioral analysis,"' which include training children with autism and related disorders in social, verbal, and motor skills (The Boston Globe).

Tobacco Funds Shrink As Obesity Fight Intensifies
When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation decided in 1991 to take on Joe Camel, it became the nation's largest private funding source for fighting smoking. The foundation spent $700 million to help knock the cartoon character out of advertisements, finance research and advocacy for higher cigarette taxes and smoke-free air laws and, ultimately, to aid in reducing the nation's smoking rate almost by half (The New York Times).

Impact Of Childhood Obesity Goes Beyond Health
The health effects of being overweight or obese are well documented. Extra pounds add extra risk for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, even among children. But new research also documents significant social and economic consequences of being overweight since high school (NPR).

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