KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration Launches Effort To Tout Medicare Preventive Benefits

The number of Medicare recipients who take advantage of these services has only increased slightly. The availability of these benefits was expanded by the health law.

The Washington Post: HHS To Push Awareness Of Free Services Under Medicare
A government effort to motivate Medicare patients to seek preventive medicine, by offering such services for free, has only slightly increased the number of older Americans getting cancer tests, key vaccines and other preventive care. Some 5.5 million Medicare patients have used at least one preventive benefit since Medicare eliminated the charges in January, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. ... But for services that had been covered in the past, dropping the charges did not produce a large spike in their use, compared with last year, when patients still had to pay for them (Goldstein, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: New Ad Campaign Touts Preventive Care Benefits Of Health Reform Law
The Obama administration is kicking off a nationwide ad campaign urging seniors to take advantage of free preventive services such as cancer screenings made possible in Medicare by the new health care law. The campaign - featuring television and radio ads in English and Spanish - comes on the heels of a new report showing that less than one in six Medicare beneficiaries have taken advantage of the new benefit since President Obama signed the law last year (Levey, 6/20).

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on another health law program - the pre-existing condition insurance plan.

The Wall Street Journal: Another Pricing Test For Insuring People With Pre-Existing Conditions
For the second time in less than a year, the government hopes to help some of the as many as 25 million uninsured Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Critics say it may be a case of too little, too late. Next month, a nationally funded health-care program will lower premiums and relax eligibility for some people with pre-existing conditions ranging from low blood pressure to cancer. Dubbed the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, the program is considered a cornerstone of President Obama's health care law, hitting a range of Americans from different economic classes, including the rising numbers of unemployed who have lost health care coverage (Andriotis, 6/21).

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