KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 26, 2010

Today's headlines include news about the politics of implementing the new health reform law as well as the ADA's 20th anniversary.

KHN Column: Where Are The Innovators In Health Care Delivery?
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, John Goodman writes: "Almost everyone believes there is an enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in health care. But why is that? In a normal market, wherever there is waste, entrepreneurs are likely to be in hot pursuit - figuring out ways to profit from its elimination by cost-reducing, quality-enhancing innovations. Why isn't this happening in health care?" (Kaiser Health News).

For Insurers, Fight Is Now Over Details
The legislative battle over the health care overhaul ended months ago, but it is hard to tell from the intense effort now under way by insurance companies to retool a critical provision (The New York Times).

Serving Big Initiatives In Bite-Size Portions
Democrats will try to stave off electoral disaster in November with tools like these: electric-car batteries, free mammograms and loans for dry cleaners. … You can see it in the administration's piece-by-piece rollout of the new health care law, and Mr. Obama's travels to highlight individual benefits of economic stimulus legislation. And you can see it in the small-business lending fund that the administration is advocating on Capitol Hill alongside Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who beseeches colleagues to act in the name of the Taco Sisters restaurant in Lafayette, La (The New York Times' The Caucus).

Health Law Augurs Transfer Of Funds From Old To Young
Mark Baumann, a 44-year-old uninsured diabetic, sees in the Obama administration's health-care law a future with stable coverage to pay for his insulin shots and blood tests. That's likely to come indirectly at the expense of his mother's generous health-care plan (The Wall Street Journal).

Some Insurers Stop Writing New Coverage For Kids
Some major health insurance companies have stopped issuing certain types of policies for children, an unintended consequence of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, state officials said Friday (The Associated Press).

Nonprofit Health Insurers Holding Large Surpluses, Consumer Group Reports
Nonprofit health insurers may be setting aside unnecessarily large surpluses even as some of them continue to raise premiums, according to an analysis by a consumer rights group (The Washington Post).

County-Level Revolt Brewing
Frustrated by Albany's backlog of unpaid bills, cash-strapped local governments around New York are threatening to suspend their Medicaid payments to the state. Last week, an upstate county announced that it was freezing Medicaid payments to Albany. The move, which was closely watched by other county leaders, may be the start of a broader revolt, as the consequences of the state's chronic cash shortage trickle down to the local level (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama's Top Disability Adviser on ADA's 20th Anniversary
Kareem Dale is associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and a special assistant to President Obama on disability policy, the first such adviser. He is legally blind and uses a cane when he walks. Dale, a graduate of the University of Illinois law school, met Obama in 1998 when he invited the then-state senator to speak to the school's Black Law Students Association. He joined Obama's presidential campaign in 2008 as an adviser on disability policy. He spoke on Friday about the law's impact on federal policy and the general public (The Washington Post).

Letter From Washington: Disabled See Progress, But Problems Persist
This week is the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the country's landmark civil rights measures and the signature domestic achievement of President George H.W. Bush (The New York Times).

'Villages' Let Elderly Grow Old At Home
The explosive growth of the USA's older population is fueling a grass-roots "village" movement in neighborhoods across the country to help people age in their own homes (USA Today). 

Help For Alzheimer's Caregivers
If you're caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, you're in plenty of company. Nearly 11 million people take care of the 5.3 million Americans with the disease, a number that's expected to grow to almost 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Assn (Los Angeles Times).

Offshore Stem Cell Clinics Sell Hope, Not Science
Dr. George Q. Daley sits at his keyboard and types "stem cell treatments." In less than a second he gets 13.4 million Google hits (NPR).

Britain Plans Radical Changes To Health Care System
After being touted as the ultimate role model, Britain's National Health Service, a fiscal failure, is about to be radically decentralized. The new organization, which the government says will focus on patients, will transfer the bulk of Britain's $160 billion health care budget to general practitioners. In return, regional groups of GPs will be responsible for buying hospital and medical services, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals-presumably at negotiated prices. They become, in effect, overnight medical general contractors, implementing health services to their communities (The Fiscal Times).

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