First Edition: October 24, 2011
Today's headlines include a variety of health policy news developments, including speculation about how the Supreme Court might review the health law and what's happening with the super committee.
Kaiser Health News: States Are Limiting Medicaid Hospital Coverage In Search For Savings
Kaiser Health news staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "In the latest sign of how desperate they are to control rising Medicaid costs, a small but growing number of states are sharply limiting hospital coverage — to as few as 10 days a year" (Galewitz, 10/24).
Kaiser Health News: Big Name Drugs Are Falling Off The 'Patent Cliff'
WNYC reporter Fred Mogul filed this report as part of a reporting partnership among Kaiser Health News, NPR and NPR member stations: "With almost $11 billion in sales last year, it's the largest blockbuster to fall off what analysts call the 'patent cliff.' And it's just one of dozens of popular high-end pharmaceuticals whose prices are expected to plummet in the coming years, including drugs like Plavix (for heart disease), Seroquel (used to treat depression) and Nexium (for digestive problems)" (Mogul, 10/24).
Kaiser Health News: In Mass., Conflicting Emotion is About Controlling Health Care Costs
WBUR reporter Martha Bebinger filed this report as part of a reporting partnership among Kaiser Health News, NPR and NPR member stations: "Massachusetts, the state that set the direction for the national health care overhaul, now aims to crack the code on rising health care costs. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and legislative leaders have made controlling health care costs a top priority and are working on plans to tackle the problem. But what does the public think? A new poll has the first comprehensive look at public opinion on health care costs since the state passed the 2006 health coverage law" (Bebinger, 10/21).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Nixon's HMOs Hold Lessons For Obama’s ACOs
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Capsules, Phil Galewitz reports: "Perhaps the Obama White House is taking a lesson from the last time a U.S. president kicked off a major new program designed to alter the way health care is delivered and paid for — President Nixon and the HMO Act of 1973. That law provided millions of dollars in start-up funding for health maintenance organizations and required employers to offer such prepaid health plans (the precursor term to HMOs), provided they were available in their community" (10/21). Check out the blog.
Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend coverage of health policy news, including reports about how vets and Medicare beneficiaries worry about the future of their health coverage, and about employer health plans coverage, or lack thereof, for part-time workers.
Politico: High Court Call On Health Care
If the Supreme Court decides to review President Barack Obama's health reform law, it will also have to choose which issues it wants to hear — and that decision could have a significant impact on the law's final fate. There are four lawsuits pending before the court, and the Obama administration and five opponents of the law — a group of 26 states, Virginia, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Thomas More Law Center and Liberty University — have all filed competing petitions asking the court to take their cases and their issues (Haberkorn, 10/23).
NPR: Medicare Enrollment Comes Sooner This Year
If you're a senior on Medicare — or an adult child responsible for a senior on Medicare — here's something you should know: The annual "open enrollment" period for joining or changing prescription drug or private health plans is already under way (Rovner, 10/24).
The Wall Street Journal: What's Ahead For Health Plans
We ain't seen nothin' yet. The key provisions of the federal health overhaul take effect in 2014, including a requirement for most people to have health insurance; a ban on insurance companies considering individuals' health status when they sell plans; and the creation of new health-coverage marketplaces called "exchanges" (10/22).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Aging America: Long-Term Care Can Bankrupt An Average Family, Yet Few Carry Insurance
The Obama administration's decision to pull the plug on a financially flawed long-term care insurance plan is likely to worsen a dilemma most middle-class families are totally unprepared for (10/24).
Politico: Lobbyists Swarm Supercommittee
It’s a stunning ratio of lobbyists to lawmakers but makes sense when you consider the high stakes faced by interests ranging from the health care industry to Native American tribes. The groups fear the supercommittee will find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction before Thanksgiving by cutting their funding or raising their taxes (Sherman and Palmer, 10/23).
Los Angeles Times: Medical Help For Illegal Immigrants Could Haunt Mitt Romney
The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance (Levey, 10/23).
The Washington Post: Rick Perry Challenges Opponents' Abortion Stances At Iowa Faith & Freedom Dinner
Six of the eight Republican presidential candidates vying for the hearts of social conservatives filed on and off stage in a cavernous hall here Saturday evening to each proclaim allegiance to conservative evangelical principles (Rucker, 10/22).
Los Angeles Times: The Promise And Pitfalls Of Palliative Care
What if a new medication for severely ill patients had no role in curing them but made them feel much better despite being sick? Let's say this elixir were found to decrease the pain and nausea of cancer patients, improve the sleep and energy of heart failure patients, prolong the lives of people with kidney failure, drive down healthcare expenditures and ease the burdens of caregivers? (Healy, 10/24).
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