KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Industry Will See More Patients With Reform; Physicians Give Mixed Reviews

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The health care plan aims to send a wave of paying patients to hospitals, doctors and pharmacists." Expanded coverage will mean less uncompensated care, a boon to traditional safety-net hospitals, but also more Medicaid patients. Hospitals say Medicaid fees don't cover their costs, so that influx could hurt the bottom line. Doctors will benefit from more paying patients, but the expansion of coverage could also strain the physician workforce. Drug companies will have more customers, but the overhaul also squeezed tens of billions in price concessions from the firms (Schneider, 3/28).

The Washington Post: "Physicians' reactions to President Obama's health-care legislation are as complicated and varied as the bill itself and depend largely on the type of medicine they practice." Primary-care doctors will get a 10-percent raise from Medicare, for instance, but radiologists will suffer cuts in payments for using their most expensive equipment (R. Saslow, 3/27).

The Wall Street Journal: "The health-care legislation has dealt another blow to a movement seeking to limit the amount doctors have to pay in medical-malpractice suits." Although "[s]ome changes did make it into the final version … critics say they are toothless. The law allocates $50 million to states looking to reduce costs associated with malpractice by setting up alternative ways of trying cases or trying to improve patient safety" (Jones, 3/27).

Bloomberg/The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger: "The overhaul creates an institute, funded with $500 million or more annually, to spur studies of which drugs, devices and medical procedures work best. The boost for comparative-effectiveness research, as the field is known among health experts, will increase scrutiny on treatments used by millions of Americans, including cholesterol drugs led by Pfizer's Lipitor and heart stents from Medtronic, said John Sullivan, an analyst at Leerink Swann & Co. The findings may add scientific rigor to doctors' decisions sometimes influenced more by marketing, said Jeffrey Lerner of the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit that conducts such research" (3/28).

The Associated Press/Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch: "If your money is in a mutual fund that specializes in health-care stocks, now might be a good time to congratulate yourself for sticking with it while others gave up. The fog that has kept these funds in the dumps mostly has lifted, and their managers see clear opportunities ahead" (Jewell, 3/29).

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