KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 3, 2012

Today's headlines include reports on a Capitol Hill hearing during which House GOP lawmakers grilled the director of the Internal Revenue Service on his agency's health care subsidy ruling.

Kaiser Health News: Nursing Schools Struggling To Find Professors
Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, writes: "There have been lots of parties this year at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, but Dean Dorrie Fontaine is in no mood to celebrate. So far, eleven professors have retired, a full 25 percent of the whole faculty. The health law is predicted to boost demand for nurses to take care of the newly-insured, especially in primary care. 'I need faculty to teach the practitioners that are going to take care of these uninsured,' she says" (Hausman, 8/3). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Baltimore Center Brings Hope To Homeless Struggling With Mental Illness
According to this Kaiser Health News story, written by Philip Merrill College of Journalism students Matt Birchenough, Alissa Gulin and Kandyce Jackson: "Catering to mentally ill homeless individuals and staffed by workers who have struggled with the same problems, the HOPE Wellness and Recovery Center is providing a critical safety net in Baltimore" (Birchenough, Gulin and Jackson, 8/2). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Vermont Wields New Power Over Hospital Budgets; Economists Say Market Approaches Will Curb Costs Best
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Vermont Public Radio's Bob Kinzel, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports on developments related to Vermont hospitals: "Vermont's Green Mountain Care Board, established by state law in May 2011 and given new powers last spring, is taking over responsibility for virtually every aspect of health care in the state. This month's project for the new regulatory board: How much hospital budgets should go up on an annual basis" (Kinzel, 8/2). Read the story.

Also on the blog, Sarah Barr reports on a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine: "A market-based effort to control health care spending would provide Medicare beneficiaries with fixed subsidies, rather than the current system's open-ended ones, a trio of conservative health economists said Wednesday" (Barr, 8/2). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republicans Grill IRS Chief On Health Care Subsidy Ruling As Commissioner Defends His Agency
House Republicans on Thursday grilled the head of the Internal Revenue Service on the agency's decision to apply the health care law's tax credits in states that decide not to carry out a key provision of the statute. Commissioner Douglas Shulman defended the IRS rule that applies the tax credits to federal insurance exchanges, which are the bodies that will be developed to allow those without health insurance to buy it. He testified at a House hearing (8/2).

The Hill’s Healthwatch: IRS Defends Against GOP Charges Of 'Illegal' Healthcare Tax Credits
Republicans and conservative policy experts say the IRS has gone too far in implementing the Affordable Care Act, specifically its subsidies to help people buy private insurance (Baker, 8/2).

Los Angeles Times: Patient Data Outage Exposes Risks Of Electronic Medical Records
Dozens of hospitals across the country lost access to crucial electronic medical records for about five hours during a major computer outage last week, raising fresh concerns about whether poorly designed technology can compromise patient care. Cerner Corp., a leading supplier of electronic health records to hospitals and doctors, said "human error" caused the outage July 23 that it said affected an unspecified number of hospitals that rely on the Kansas City, Mo., company to remotely store their medical information (Terhune, 8/3).

Politico: Obama: Women Make Up 80 Percent Of My Household
President Obama touted his record on women's issues and stressed the women in his personal story as he addressed a major gathering of women bloggers on Thursday. "Women's issues are front and center as they should be. But the conversation has been oversimplified a bit," he told the BlogHer conference in New York, speaking live via video from Orlando, Fla. "Women are not a monolithic bloc, not an interest group.” … Though he listed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, education reform and his support for Planned Parenthood -- among other issues -- as accomplishments, much of his speech focused on his own relationships with women (Epstein, 8/2).

USA Today: Colorado Theater Shooting Victims Face Bills With Wounds
Like many victims, Moser, whose daughter was killed in the shooting and who suffered a miscarriage from her injuries, will face mental and physical trauma that will lead to a lifetime of medical costs. Her family and others will have to sort through dozens of victim funds and find their way through a maze of medical bills (Alcindor and Welch, 8/2).

The Hill’s Healthwatch: Study: Generic Drugs have Saved US $1 Trillion
Generic drugs have saved the healthcare system more than $1 trillion over the last decade, according to research released Thursday by the generics industry. The industry is pushing for expanded use of generics in Medicare and Medicaid, and the new research suggests that generics have helped control the government's spending on prescription drugs (Baker, 8/2).

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.