KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 24, 2011

In today's headlines, Medicare tries bundled payments and HHS signals that it may give states a second chance to avoid a federally-run health insurance exchange. 

Kaiser Health News: Danforth On Super Committee's Task: 'The Problem Is The Cost Of Health Care'
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with Republican former Senator John Danforth about the politics of deficit-cutting commissions and what it will take to tackle the ballooning federal deficit (8/23).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Medicare Is Taking A Page From Priceline, HHS Sponsors Contest For Emergency Facebook Apps
On KHN's news blog, Phil Galewitz reports "The Obama administration is offering a new pricing strategy for doctors and hospitals looking to improve care and lower costs of treating Medicare beneficiaries. It could be called 'Name Your Own Price' — except that's already taken by a certain online travel website that has a certain Star Trek actor as its pitchman. But the principle is the same." Also on Capsules, Shefali S. Kulkarni reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a contest to develop emergency public health Facebook apps – news especially timely on the day of the East Coast earthquake. Check out the blog.

Politico: The Perils Of The Supercommittee
The event is an early glimpse of what the 12 supercommittee members could face after they try to slice $1.2 trillion in spending this fall: they'll head home to sell their decisions to voters, many of whom are wary of losing Medicare and Social Security benefits, afraid of seeing their taxes increase — or will be peeved that Congress could not shift the fiscal trajectory of the country (Sherman, 8/23).

NPR: Medicare Trying Bundled Payments To Save Money, Improve Care
Medicare officials have unveiled the latest initiative to spring from last year's overhaul, and it's one some health economists have been lusting after for years: Bundling payments so that hospitals, doctors, and even post-hospital caregivers all have the same financial incentive to both work together and provide cost-effective care (Rovner, 8/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Administration May Give States Second Chance To Avoid Federally Run Insurance Exchange
The Obama administration said Tuesday that states that have not adopted their own insurance exchanges may get a second chance to avoid getting one run solely by the federal government. Only 11 states have fully embraced the idea of taking federal money to set up their own state-run insurance exchange, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official said Tuesday. The exchange, a key part of Obama's health care overhaul, is designed to help uninsured people buy coverage from a choice of plans with federal tax credits (8/23).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Club For Growth Targets Thompson In Wisconsin Senate Race
Former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin has yet to officially join his state's Senate race, but he is already facing attacks from the right. Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, will launch television ads Wednesday accusing Mr. Thompson of supporting spending increases and Democrats' health care overhaul (Yadron, 8/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Clinic Sues Over Ban
Accusing the Cuomo administration of "cruel, needless guillotine action," a Bronx health-care nonprofit controlled by an indicted former state lawmaker filed papers in court on Tuesday to stop the state from cutting off its Medicaid funding. A lawyer for Soundview Health Center called the state's punishment of the clinics "grossly disproportionate" and said cutting off the center's financial lifeline would wipe out 200 jobs and upend the lives of thousands of patients (Gershman, 8/24).

Los Angeles Times: California Mental Hospitals Are Dangerous, Legislators Told
At an Assembly committee hearing on safety issues at the state's mental hospitals, lawmakers Tuesday received testimony about faulty alarm systems, daily assaults and an increasing number of patients with criminal histories (Romney, 8/24).

The Washington Post: NIH Finalizes Financial Conflict Of Interest Rules
The National Institutes of Health has finalized rules to reduce financial conflicts of interests among federally funded researchers who also receive payments or stock from drug and medical device companies. The rules, which will affect more than 40,000 researchers, come after a string of high profile cases in which federally funded researchers failed to disclose millions of dollars from companies with a financial interest in the outcome of their work (Vastag, 8/23).

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