Health Law Continues To Be Embroiled In Politics, Though Toned Down
In a bid to rally support for the health overhaul among doctors, a White House official underscored both sticks and carrots the federal government is offering the health industry, Reuters reports: "Administration officials said the new law will provide doctors with information technology and incentives to improve the care they deliver, but only if they cooperate. 'The most successful physicians will be those who most effectively collaborate with other providers to improve outcomes, care productivity and patient experience,' Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, and colleagues wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The officials asked doctors not to let their disappointment over Congress' failure to fix problems with Medicare payments affect their enthusiasm for health reform" (Steenhuysen, 8/23).
Kansas Health Institute: An opponent of the law, Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., a U.S. Senate candidate, said at a press conference in Topeka, "I think [the health law] creates many more problems than it solves, and I would love to replace it with something with a greater focus on reducing the underlying costs of health care." He argued that Medicare and Medicaid should increase payments to cover the cost of hospital and physician services before other changes to the health system are made (Ranney, 8/23).
Minnesota Public Radio: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., "told [a group of 170 people from Minnesota's health care sector] that it was important that Minnesota's industries have a voice and a seat at the table of the rule-making process.... For many medical device makers, there is an uneasiness of how the law will shape out in the end, said Rob Clark, a media relations specialist with Medtronic. He said one major issue is how the industry will be affected by a device tax expected to generate $20 billion dollars over 10 years" (Stawicki, 8/23).
San Francisco Chronicle: In California, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has softened her opposition to the health law. "The most recent statements by Whitman's campaign are much more equivocal than the position she took in March, during the Republican primary. When supporters at a campaign event asked her whether she would 'force (her) attorney general' to join the health care suit, she said yes." Now, the campaign acknowledges that a governor can't force the state's elected attorney general to sue, and that Whitman may not even push for that type of action (Egelko, 8/23).
Time reports on the impact of the law on this year's campaigns: "When Republican Scott Brown pulled off a stunning upset in the special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat on Jan. 19, GOP leaders warned Democrats that pressing ahead with Barack Obama's still pending health care reform plan would be suicidal. 'Every election this fall will be a referendum on this bill,' Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell told ABC in early March. Democrats went ahead and passed the sweeping legislation anyway - and now, nearly five months later, McConnell's prediction looks off base. Voters are far more concerned about the stalled economy or soaring budget deficits than they are about health care reform" (Crowley, 8/20).
The Associated Press: Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., appeared at a forum in Libby, Mont., to discuss a health law provision tailor made for the local concentration of asbestos victims. "The health care reform law passed last year expands Medicare coverage for the sick residents of Libby, where years of asbestos pollution from a vermiculite mine made this the nation's deadliest Superfund site." But, many people at the forum "appeared to be less concerned about how the new law helps those with asbestos illnesses than with the legislation itself" (Volz, 8/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.