KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Close-Ups On How The Health Overhaul Gives And Takes Away

There's something for – or against – everyone in the health overhaul legislation. These reports hone in on specific issues and the groups they will affect.

The New York Times: "An association representing 300 large corporations urged President Obama and Congress on Monday to repeal a provision of the health care overhaul that prompted AT&T, Caterpillar and other companies to announce substantial charges for the current quarter." The provision will limit tax deductions for drug coverage offered to retirees from the firms, and will cost companies millions. AT&T, for instance, took a $1 billion charge (Greenhouse, 3/29).

The New York Times in a separate story: The broad health overhaul legislation expands mental health "parity to a much wider pool, making it possible for millions more people to get the same coverage for substance abuse and illnesses like bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia as they would for, say, diabetes or cancer" (Kershaw, 3/29).

The New York Times: A third story explains that "[t]he CLASS Act, a legacy of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (whose widow and son were on hand for the signing)," – and a part of the broader health reform overhaul – "sets up the first national government-run long-term care insurance program, which will be offered primarily through employers" (Span, 3/29).

San Diego Business Journal: The biotechnology industry is happy with the overhaul. "[T]he legislation provides important protections on their products, such as a 12-year data exclusivity arrangement that protects branded biotech drugs against imitators, along with a tax credit to small businesses." An industry representative said that is "a clear win" (3/29).

The New York Times reports finally, in a separate story: Dr. Robert Colton – whose patients sometimes complain that their main symptom is needing "an M.R.I." – is one person whose issues, overutilization, may not be addressed in the overhaul. He says, "There is no incentive for me, Rob Colton, to reduce overutilization." Some provisions attempt to limit excessive medical use, such as a tax on the most expensive – and often comprehensive – insurance plans. "But it will not be easy to put the brakes on overuse," the Times writes (Kolata, 3/29).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.