KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 17, 2010

Today's headlines highlight stories about efforts to advance the implementation of federal health reforms as well as the sweeping measure's political impact in primary races across the country.

Insurance Regulators Wrestle With Definition Of 'Unreasonable' Rate Increases
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby writes about the challenge of defining terms like
"unreasonable": "When WellPoint proposed up to a 39 percent premium increase for some of its California customers, it touched off a storm of criticism that helped boost passage of the new health care law" (Kaiser Health News).

The Health Care Cost Problem We Refuse To See
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Austin Frakt writes: "I agree with those who think the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act doesn't do enough soon enough to control the rate of increase in health insurance premiums. But I disagree that the solution is simply to pass more laws that regulate health insurance rates (as suggested in a May 9 New York Times editorial) or just to increase competition in the health insurance industry (as suggested in a May 6 Washington Times commentary). Such measures would be insufficient on their own and could even do some harm" (Kaiser Health News).

Kaiser Health News tracked weekend health policy news coverage, including reports on Saturday about a new addition to the states' lawsuits against health reform and California's budget developments as well as Sunday news regarding abortion policy and the new law.

$35M For Dartmouth Health Care Delivery Center
Dartmouth College is getting $35 million to open a center it hopes will help the nation take the next big steps in health care reform: improving quality while lowering costs (The Associated Press).

Climate Changes For Medical Devices
The U.S. health-care overhaul could help hospitals cut costs for high-priced medical devices, raising a long-term risk for manufacturers already facing some pressure on product prices (The Wall Street Journal).

Workplace Set To Remain Key Source Of Health Coverage
The share of Americans who get health coverage through their jobs has been declining gradually for years, dropping to 63.3% of working-age adults in 2008. The question now is whether the new health law will accelerate that trend, and induce more employers and workers to turn to government coverage options (The Wall Street Journal).

Firms Put Limits On Mental Therapy
Spiraling medical costs have driven many employers to place new limits on coverage for mental health care, raising concerns that the rules may violate federal regulations intended to make it as easy for patients to see therapists as other doctors (The Boston Globe).

A Bigger Blanket To Cover Young Adults
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as the recent healthcare overhaul law is known, Sarah, currently looking for a job as an event planner, can remain on her parents' plan until age 26. So can millions more soon-to-be college graduates who traditionally have lost health insurance coverage once they pushed that tassel over the mortarboard (Los Angeles Times).

Conservative Thinkers Tout Three Innovative And Controversial Proposals
Billboards advertising the importance of marriage. Shifting coverage of the elderly from Medicare to private insurance companies. Big tax cuts specifically for parents (The Washington Post).

Dems To Tout Reform's Early Benefits
They say good public policy makes good politics. In the case of health care, it may take years to determine whether that truism pans out for Democrats and President Barack Obama (Politico).

Five Who Flipped On Health Care
They were the difference makers on health care reform: House Democrats who flipped from opposing the plan to supporting it, delivering a win on President Barack Obama's signature domestic issue (Politico).

In The Middle In Arkansas, And Hit From Both Sides
Republicans and conservative Democrats have excoriated Mrs. Lincoln for supporting President Obama's health care overhaul, which is often portrayed around here as a socialist plot. Meanwhile, liberal Democrats have hammered her for opposing a government-run insurance option, cap-and-trade climate legislation and a law that would have made it easier for workers to unionize (The New York Times).

States' Budget Crisis Hitting Agencies And Programs That Service The Most Vulnerable: Children
The scope of the cuts is unprecedented, child advocates say. Hit are programs that addressed everything from childhood obesity to child abuse, and from prenatal care to preschool inspections. Some can't serve as many kids, while others are forced to deal with months long delays and many programs simply disappear (The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times).

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