Health Overhaul Details Trigger Attention, Debate
The Orlando Sentinel: "It's one of the most overlooked pieces of health-care overhaul, but a plan to help companies pay health-care costs for early retirees has proved popular in Florida, where 69 companies and government agencies have applied for federal help. The companies and government agencies - ranging from school boards to large employers such as Darden Restaurants, the American Automobile Association and Tupperware Corp. - have been approved to receive federal funds that would reimburse 80 percent of the health-care costs for early retirees whose health-insurance claims exceed $15,000 a year" (Shrieves, 9/20).
Kaiser Health News: "A study this month in Health Affairs found that Americans bypass their primary-care doctor more than half the time when they have an acute problem. The study found that 28 percent of visits for acute care occurred in the emergency room between 2001 and 2004. Another 20 percent were handled by specialists. When faced with potentially dangerous conditions such as chest pain or a high fever, going to the ER is the smartest move. But other acute problems -- such as a flare-up of a chronic condition or an upper respiratory infection -- could often be handled outside the ER if the patient's own doctor were available, researchers say"(Andrews, 9/21).
Roll Call: "The political arm of the United States Catholic Church is once more weighing in on the Democrats' health care reform law, this time encouraging regulators not to allocate taxpayer funds for birth control pills and other contraceptives. In a letter released Monday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the Health and Human Services Department for attempting to cover the drugs as a 'preventative' service as the agency implements this year's massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (Murray, 9/20).
The Hill's Healthwatch Blog: "The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops raises three main concerns in its objections to coverage of contraception: Family planning is not disease prevention; While preventive services are often low-risk options aimed at avoiding risky consequences later, contraceptives can have the opposite profile; and, [m]andating contraception or sterilization coverage poses a threat to the rights of conscience of religious employers and others" (Pecquet, 9/20).
The Wall Street Journal: "For the first time in U.S. history, a public long-term-care program is in the works, part of the health-reform legislation that President Obama signed into law earlier this year. But with many details yet to be worked out, it may be too soon to tell how much impact it will have. Known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS, Act, it's designed to help people plan ahead for when they're disabled or frail and need assistance so they can stay independent as long as possible. It's meant to supplement other funding sources such as personal savings, family caregiving and private long-term-care insurance" (Gerencher, 9/20).
Minnesota Public Radio: "Leaders of three Minnesota health maintenance organizations -- Medica, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and HealthPartners -- agree on one thing: the No. 1 challenge they face is planning for the law's reforms when the government is still ironing out the details. While the public sees it as a done deal that's a sweeping 2,000-plus pages long, Minnesota's HMOs see it as merely a framework with a lot of important pieces missing" (Stawicki, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.