KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 24, 2010

Today's headlines focus on some of the finer points of the new health law.

Stimulus Money Flowing To Health IT
Irene Wielawski writes for Kaiser Health News that electronic medical records may be as important as stethoscopes. "Dr. David Blumenthal was not happy to find a new computer installed on his desk when he showed up for work one morning eight years ago at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He knew the hospital had been hard at work on developing an electronic medical record (EMR) system, but Blumenthal wasn't keen on changing practices that had served him and his patients just fine over the years. Quickly, though, he found himself to be odd man out at staff meetings where younger colleagues eagerly exchanged tips on how to retrieve patient histories, test results and consults with other physicians" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: London Fog
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, done in collaboration with The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn writes: "He's a socialist! He'll redistribute wealth! He wants to pull the plug on grandma! That's what Republicans said about President Obama back in 2009, while he was trying to make health care reform bill law. Now they're saying it about Donald Berwick, the man Obama has appointed to help make health care reform work" (Kaiser Health News).

Health-Care Law Faces Test As Regulators Settle Which Plans Must Do What
Now that Congress has imposed new requirements on health insurance plans, regulators are trying to resolve another big question: Which plans must comply with the requirements? (The Washington Post).

Study Points To Health Law's Penalties
About one-third of employers subject to major requirements of the new health care law may face tax penalties because they offer health insurance that could be considered unaffordable to some employees, a new study says (The New York Times).

Report: Healthcare Law Tax Credits Encourage Small Businesses To Stay Small, Not Hire
A study by the National Center for Policy Analysis shows that tax credits in the new healthcare law could negatively impact small-business hiring decisions (The Hill).

The Week Ahead: Holiday Crunch Time
It's the last week Congress is in session before Memorial Day recess and there's a lot of legislation on the table. The tax extenders bill is back in play and, with it, the Medicare "doc fix." This marks lawmakers' last chance to act before the break: If they fail, physicians face a 21.3 percent Medicare pay cut on June 1, right after Congress gets back in session (The Hill).

In Congress, Spending Measures Meet Bipartisan Resistance
Congress is headed for a showdown this week over government spending, an issue that is dividing Democrats as lawmakers prepare to face voters still hurting from the recession but also angry about the huge cost of federal efforts to revive the economy (The Washington Post).

How I Made It: J. Mario Molina And John Molina
J. Mario Molina and John Molina, who are brothers, run Molina Healthcare Inc., a health maintenance organization provider that operates 19 clinics in 10 states. The company, based in Long Beach, has 2,900 employees and more than 1.4 million customers, most of whom receive Medicaid, Medi-Cal and other government healthcare assistance (Los Angeles Times).

Insurers May Slash Rates To Hospitals
Massachusetts health insurers say they want to freeze or slash payments to some hospitals and large physician groups this year, setting up the toughest contract negotiations in memory and creating the potential for disruptions in where patients get their care. Other providers would get small increases, at most (The Boston Globe).

Fla. Gov Candidate Touts Outsider Status
Rick Scott, neophyte politician and surprise candidate for Florida governor, opens one of his now ubiquitous TV commercials with this: "So I bet you're wondering, where have I seen that handsome bald guy before?" (The Associated Press).

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