First Edition: June 4, 2010
Today's health policy headlines highlight HHS Secretary Sebelius' defense of the Obama administration's Medicare nominee as well as the AMA's push to fix scheduled reductions in Medicare physician payments.
COBRA Subsidy starts Running Out For Some As Congress Grapples With Extension
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas writes: "Howard Kornblum has been watching every penny for the past 15 months and it's about to get worse. After being laid off from his job as a consulting director in Michigan, he took advantage in March 2009 of a federal subsidy to help pay for health insurance. With the government picking up 65 percent of the tab, Kornblum's share of the premiums was $236 a month. But starting on June 1, the subsidy expired for the first people who got it, and Kornblum's benefits end tomorrow" (Kaiser Health News).
Sebelius Defends Medicare Nominee
Health secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday rejected criticism of the Obama administration's nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid, saying Republicans were being unfair to Donald Berwick and she was confident he would be confirmed (The Wall Street Journal).
Two Health Care Adversaries Find A Need To Collaborate
After squaring off as political foes for more than a year, the Obama administration and the health insurance industry have suddenly discovered that they need each other (The New York Times).
Trumka Sees Labor As 'Unpredictable Partners' For Democrats In 2010
The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups have spent millions on televisions and get-out-the-vote efforts in support of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is challenging Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) for the party's Senate nomination. That race is the most prominent example of labor's push against Democrats who were unwilling to vote for healthcare reform or for legislation that would make union organizing much easier. Trumka said the AFL-CIO will not support Democrats if their record veers away from working-class issues (The Hill's Blog Briefing Room).
AMA Ads Say Senate 'Took A Vacation' Instead Of Fixing Medicare
The gist of the American Medical Association's new "multi-million dollar" ad campaign: Senators blew out of town for a Memorial Day vacation rather than staying to deal with the looming cuts in Medicare reimbursement to doctors (The Wall Street Journal Health Blog).
Doctors' Group Turns Up Heat On Medicare Payments
The doctors group said it launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign criticizing the U.S. Senate for going on a week-long Memorial Day break before acting on a bill that would have postponed the pay cut that went into effect on June 1 (Reuters).
Court Weighs Death Decision
Ruben Betancourt of Elizabeth, N.J., was unable to speak for more than a year, attached to machines to keep his lungs pumping and his body fed. The retiree died last year but the fight over his final few months lives on. A New Jersey court is weighing if his life should have been prolonged and who should have made that decision: the hospital or his family (The Wall Street Journal).
Coordination Key To World Cup Emergency Readiness
A disaster during the World Cup could overwhelm the fragile network of hospitals and ambulances on which most South Africans depend, experts and health workers say (The Associated Press).
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