First Edition: January 30, 2012
Today's health policy headlines include a report that GOP leaders are pledging quick action on legislation to extend the payroll tax break and to prevent a scheduled cut in Medicare physician payment.
Kaiser Health News: Doctor, Did You Check Your Checklist?
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with Washingtonian magazine, Bara Vaida writes: "Why haven't hospitals made more progress on patient safety? The reasons are multiple and complex, but they boil down to the fact that hospitals are hierarchical organizations resistant to change, they haven't done enough to create environments in which patient safety is a priority, and they've been reluctant to share patient-safety data with the public. Even getting full compliance on basic safety standards, such as washing hands, has proved elusive because hospitals are busy, high-stress places full of distraction" (Vaida, 1/30). Check out the related chart.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: South Fla. Jewish Republicans See Little To Like In Health Law
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Phil Galewitz reports: "In interviews with nearly a dozen Republican seniors attending the rally in this heavy Jewish retirement area known for golf courses, kosher delis and 'early bird' specials, most like Cestari said health care is a key issue, but they acknowledged they knew little about how the law affects them — or about Republicans' plans to curb Medicare spending" (Galewitz, 1/29).
Also on Capsules, Shefali S. Kukarni writes about a bipartisan report on health IT: "The Bipartisan Policy Center released a 43-page report detailing the gaps in health IT implementation–the biggest concern being a delay in getting the various systems to be able to talk to one another" (Kulkarni, 1/27). And Judith Graham reports that some heavy doctors avoid heavy discussions (1/27). Check out what else is on the blog.
Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend headlines, including reports about how health policy issues fit into the increasingly bitter primary fracas between GOP presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney (1/29), that the Department of Health and Human Services denied Texas' request for a medical-loss ratio waiver (1/28) and how Democrats might use GOP Medicare policies on the campaign trail (1/28).
Los Angeles Times: GOP Leaders Pledge Quick Action On Payroll Tax Break
House-Senate negotiators are expected to meet this week on extending the tax break, which amounts to about $20 a week for the average worker, as well as continuing unemployment benefits and preventing a pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients (Simon, 1/29).
The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: Mitt Romney And Charges Of Medicare Fraud
Winning Our Future, a Super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, has released another attack on rival Mitt Romney's business practices. A one-minute "trailer" and a 30-second TV ad that amplify the themes of corporate malfeasance accompany the nearly eight-minute video, "Blood Money." (The title refers to the fact that a company once partly owned by Bain Capital, Romney's firm, was found guilty of charging Medicare for unnecessary blood tests.) We were highly critical of Winning Our Future's "King of Bain" film, awarding it Four Pinocchios, in part because it focused on business failures in which Romney was only tangentially involved (Kessler, 1/30).
The Washington Post: Entrepreneurs Try To Fill Gap In Online Medical Help
Recognizing a need for innovation, the government has made some of its raw data available on healthdata.gov., a central database where developers can get information for Web sites and apps. So far, the database includes everything from food safety recalls to fatality statistics, but the challenge remains the dearth of comparable information (ElBoghhdady, 1/29).
The New York Times: Ruling On Contraception Draws Battle Lines At Catholic Colleges
Many Catholic colleges decline to prescribe or cover birth control, citing religious reasons. Now they are under pressure to change. This month the Obama administration, citing the medical case for birth control, made a politically charged decision that the new health care law requires insurance plans at Catholic institutions to cover birth control without co-payments for employees, and that may be extended to students. But Catholic organizations are resisting the rule, saying it would force them to violate their beliefs and finance behavior that betrays Catholic teachings (Grady, 1/29).
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