KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 12, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about yesterday's House vote to repeal the health law.  

Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Finding Patients On Google, Facebook
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with The Philadelphia Inquirer, reports: "Penn is one of a small, but growing number of hospitals taking their advertising campaigns to Facebook, Google and other websites.  Fewer than 150 of the nation's 6,000 hospitals use Google and Facebook to market services, estimates Rob Grant, executive vice president of eVariant, a Simsbury, Ct.-based hospital consulting firm. He and other experts predict the numbers will rise as more see the value of highly targeted campaigns that enable them to track results" (Galewitz, 7/12). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: How The SCOTUS Medicaid Ruling Could Save Money
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini, working in collaboration with Politico Pro, reports: "The Supreme Court ruling on the health care law could have an unexpected effect -- saving the federal government money, say some budget experts" (Werber Serafini, 7/11). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Firefighters Prevail In Fight For Health Insurance
Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "It all started around a kitchen table in Custer, South Dakota. John Lauer, a 27-year-old seasonal firefighter for an elite U.S. Forest Service wildland fire team, sat down with some colleagues to write a petition" (Whitney, 7/11). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: House Debates Repeal Of Health Law (Video)
In these Kaiser Health News video excerpts, Rep. John Dingell offers Republicans his gavel from Medicare passage, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounces "Washington-based care" (7/11). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Teaching Doctors About The Cost Of Care; Mass. Global Payment Approach Lowers Costs, Improves Care; Could Grass-Roots Pressure Trigger Change Of Heart In Texas?;
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports on efforts to educate doctors on the cost of care: "All new doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, promising to care for their patients to the best of their abilities. But what does that mean in terms of the cost of that care, when medical debt accounts for more than 60 percent of personal bankruptcies in the United States?" (Gold, 7/11).

Also on Capsules, David Schultz reports on a study of a global payment system in Massachusetts: "There's some encouraging news in the ongoing struggle to control health care costs without sacrificing quality. The Alternative Quality Contract, a global payment model put in place by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts in 2009, has both curbed costs and improved the quality of care, according to a Harvard Medical School study published today in the journal Health Affairs" (Schultz, 7/11).

In addition, KUHF's Carrie Feibel, working in collaboration with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports on Texas and the Medicaid expansion: "Health reform advocates and Democrats in Texas are reacting to Gov. Rick Perry's vow to turn down both the Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchange mandated in the federal health law" (Feibel, 7/11).

And, finally, Chrisitan Torres offers a report on how one public figure's family is benefitting from the health law: "Push aside that cup of coffee and check this out: TV personality and former House Republican Joe Scarborough revealed this morning that his 24-year-old son is among those benefiting from the health law" (Torres, 7/11). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: Repeal Of Health Care Law Approved, Again, By House
Waging old battles with new zeal, the House passed a bill on Wednesday to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul law less than two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional (Pear, 7/11).

Los Angeles Times: House GOP Leads Passage Of Health Care Law Repeal
For the 33rd time, House Republicans steered passage of legislation taking aim at the nation's new healthcare law – this time in a largely symbolic vote to repeal it. The two-day floor debate was orchestrated by GOP leaders to rev up voters before the November election, tapping into the deep divisions that remain over the plan two years after President Obama’s signature domestic achievement became law (Mascaro, 7/11).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP House Moves To Repeal Health Law In Symbolic Vote
The House voted on Wednesday to repeal President Barack Obama's health-care law, a symbolic act in the wake of the Supreme Court's recent ruling upholding the legislation.  The 244-185 vote was largely along party lines, with five Democrats joining all Republicans in voting to undo Mr. Obama's much-debated program. The vote allowed Republicans to reaffirm their opposition to the health-care law, but repeal has little chance of taking effect (Bendavid, 7/11).

USA Today: House Votes To Repeal Health Care Law
It was the 33rd vote to repeal the law or eliminate funding for its provisions since Republicans took control of the chamber last year. None of the GOP's efforts stood a chance of enactment because Democrats control the Senate and the White House, which issued a veto threat Monday on the GOP's repeal bill (Davis, 7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: 1 More Time: GOP-Controlled House Votes to Repeal Obama Health Law, Gets 5 Dem Defectors
Pressing an election-year point, Republicans pushed yet another bill through the House on Wednesday to repeal the nation's two-year-old health care law, a maneuver that forced Democrats to choose between President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement and a public that is persistently skeptical of its value (7/11).

NPR: House Votes to Repeal Health Care Law
With a vote of 244 to 185, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature domestic legislation known colloquially as "Obamacare" (Peralta, 7/11).

Politico: Still No GOP Plan To 'Replace'
Even as they cheer their "Obamacare" repeal vote, here's a reality check: House Republicans have done next to nothing they promised they would when it comes to health care. Sure, they've voted to kill parts of President Barack Obama's law more than 30 times, slashing funding, using the votes as red meat to rally the base — even squeezing some into law (Sherman and DoBias, 7/11).

The Washington Post: Medicaid Expansion Likely To Dominate National Governors Association Meeting In Williamsburg
In the weeks since the Supreme Court ruling, several Republican governors opposed to the law have declared that they will opt out of its Medicaid expansion, which is set to take effect in 2014 and would cover those earning 133 percent or less of the federal poverty level (Felicia Sonmez, 7/11).

The Washington Post: Connolly Urges McDonnell To Participate In Medicaid Expansion
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly is urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to avoid "a costly and historic mistake" by opting Virginia out of the federal health-care law's Medicaid expansion (Kumar, 7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Idaho Governor Otter Still Open To Exchange, Medicaid Expansion After Ruling, Will Study Both
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter isn't dismissing an insurance exchange or expanding Medicaid eligibility rules for his state because he doesn't want to cut off opportunities to make health care more affordable for Idaho residents. Otter said Tuesday he plans to study both options following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Lt. Gov. Kinder, GOP Lawmakers Challenge Ballot Summary For Missouri Health Insurance Measure
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and other top Republican legislative leaders filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the secretary of state’s office of writing a health care measure ballot summary that is "blatantly false, deceptive and intended to mislead the people." The Republican-controlled Legislature approved a statewide ballot measure for November that would ask voters whether Missouri officials should be barred from creating a health insurance exchange without approval from voters or the Legislature (7/11).

The Wall Street Journal: NAACP Cool Toward Romney's Overtures
Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney drew loud boos Wednesday when he pledged to repeal President Barack Obama's health law in a speech to the country's largest civil rights organization (O’Connor, 7/11).

Politico: Mitt At NAACP: Booed On Health Care
The Republican's call to repeal the health-care overhaul — which forms a standard part of Romney's stump speech — also drew loud cries that temporarily drowned out his speech, causing Romney’s reception by the group to veer from genial to borderline hostile (Summers, 7/11).

The New York Times: Insurers Pay Big Markups As Doctors Dispense Drugs
When a pharmacy sells the heartburn drug Zantac, each pill costs about 35 cents. But doctors dispensing it to patients in their offices have charged nearly 10 times that price, or $3.25 a pill (Meier and Thomas, 7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Gov’t Auditors Question Legality Of Obama Administration Bonus Program For Medicare Insurers
Government auditors Wednesday questioned the legality of a costly Medicare bonus program, escalating a running skirmish in the broader battle over President Barack Obama's health care law and its consequences for seniors (7/11).

Los Angeles Times: Study: Community Health Centers Sometimes Top Private Practices
Federally funded community health centers perform equal to or better than private practices on a number of quality-care measures, according to a new study. The results demonstrate that community health centers are capable of providing high-quality care to an often complex patient population (Bardin, 7/11).

The Washington Post: Study: Most Medicaid Patients Visit The ER For Urgent, Not Routine, Care
Policymakers frequently say that Medicaid patients overuse the emergency room for routine care, citing it as a factor driving up health-care costs. But a new study says that the majority of Medicaid visits to the emergency room are for urgent or serious issues (Kliff, 7/11).

The Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal: Goldman Predicts More Medicaid-Tied M&A After WellPoint Deal
Investors were clearly thinking the same thing Monday, when the news sent shares of Amerigroup rivals Molina, Centene and WellCare soaring. Each remains up significantly this week, with Molina up 14% to $26.22; Centene up 19% to $34.41; and WellCare up 20% to $63.24 (Kamp, 7/11).

Los Angeles Times: Stockton Retirees Sue To Stop City From Cutting Health Benefits
A group of Stockton retirees has filed suit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento asking for a restraining order against the city's moves to cut their health benefits. The city informed retirees by letter that they must pay their premiums by July 30 or "medical coverage will be canceled retroactive to July 1." The move is part of the city's "pendency plan" aimed at keeping it solvent while it seeks protections from creditors under federal bankruptcy law (Marcum, 7/12).

The New York Times: Judge Maintains Injunction Against Mississippi Law On Abortion Clinics
Lawyers debated before a federal judge on Wednesday whether a new law governing abortion clinics in Mississippi should remain blocked or go into effect and thus set in motion a process that could lead to the closing of the state’s lone abortion clinic (Robertson, 7/11).

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