First Edition: April 29, 2011
Today's headlines include reports about how independent groups and activists are taking positions on the Ryan plan for the budget and Medicare.
Kaiser Health News: Some Employees Already Sending Workers To Exchanges To Buy Health Insurance
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "The private exchanges, mainly run by former insurance executives and employee benefit consulting firms, operate in more than 20 states. While representing only a tiny fraction of workplaces, the movement may be about to grow: One of the nation's largest employer-benefits consulting firms -- Aon Hewitt -- said Wednesday it will launch of an exchange aimed at large companies. It hopes to have at least 100,000 workers enrolled by early next year" (Appleby, 4/29).
Kaiser Health News: Medicare To Begin Basing Hospital Payments On Patient-Satisfaction Scores
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is finalizing details for the new reimbursement method, required by last year's health care law. Consumer advocates say tying patient opinions to payments will result in better care. But many hospital officials are wary, arguing the scores don't necessarily reflect the quality of the care and are influenced by factors beyond their control" (Rau, 4/29). Read the state-by-state rankings of hospital experiences.
Los Angeles Times: Independent Political Groups Hit Airwaves Over Medicare Spending
The battle over the future of Medicare and the federal budget has been joined unusually early by independent political groups, providing an indication of the large role they are likely to play in the 2012 campaign and beyond (Mason and Hamburger, 4/29).
The Associated Press: What's Behind Seniors' Fears Of GOP Medicare Plan?
The loudest objections to the GOP Medicare plan are coming from seniors, who swung to Republicans in last year's congressional elections, and many have been complaining at town-hall meetings with their representatives during the current congressional recess. Some experts say GOP policymakers may have overlooked a defining trait among older people: concern for the welfare of the next generations (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/28).
USA Today: Ryan Draws National Attention At Town Halls
The budget - and especially Medicare - is the hot topic everywhere, nowhere more so than in Ryan's southern Wisconsin district. Ryan is the architect of a GOP budget plan that would fundamentally remake the health care program for seniors (Korte, 4/29).
Politico: Town Hall 'Rage': Organic Or Astro?
In 2009, hordes of angry voters grabbed headlines by overrunning town halls to protest health care reform. To supporters, they were an organic, on-the-ground confirmation of the cause. To detractors, they were little more than Astroturf-Washington-funded conservative front groups stoking populist outrage for their partisan gain. Two years later the same storyline is playing out -only in reverse - and a wide range of liberal activists and unions are ginning up the "town hall rage" narrative against Republican plans for Medicare. But the critical question looms again: Is this a real movement or something orchestrated and overdone by Washington-fueled activists? (Cogan and Allen, 4/28).
Politico: Union Organizers Put Seniors On Ryan's Trail
Citizens Action of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Labor Council have enlisted a traveling band of seniors to follow Paul Ryan's every move while he conducts town halls across the state (Nocera, 4/28).
NPR: Emergency Room Doctors Say Health Law Will Make ER Crowding Worse
Hospital emergency rooms, the theory goes, get overcrowded because people without health insurance have no place else to go. But that's not the view of the doctors who staff those emergency departments (Rovner, 4/28).
Los Angeles Times: Aetna To Scale Back Health Insurance Rate Hikes
A third major California health insurer has agreed to scale back insurance rate hikes this year for thousands of customers after postponing the increases for 60 days at the request of the state's insurance commissioner (Helfand, 4/28).
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