First Edition: December 9, 2010
In today's headlines, the Senate approves a one-year Medicare payment fix for physicians.
KHN: Big Health Insurers Seek To Boost DC Influence
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Bara Vaida writes: "Five of the nation's largest health insurance companies are taking a key step toward building their own inside-the-Beltway coalition to influence implementation of the new health law and congressional efforts to change it. The companies Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Wellpoint -- are shopping around Washington for a public relations firm to represent them, according to a source familiar with their work. Public Strategies and APCO are among PR firms that have spoken with the insurers, the source said" (Vaida, 12/8).
KHN Column: How The Health Reform Game Has Changed
In this Kaiser Health News column, Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll write: "By some accounts, the Republican takeover of the House is a game changer for health reform. Already, it has reinvigorated debate over the law, and the media have focused on what federal legislators can or will do to alter it. But more attention should be directed elsewhere. The future trajectory of health reform will be shaped far more by interest group agendas and state-level actions than by the new House leadership's stated plans. Not only has the game changed, but so have the most important players" (Frakt and Carroll, 12/9).
Politico: Senate Approves Medicare Fix
The Senate - helped by a push from the White House - passed a one-year "doc-fix" late Wednesday, preventing a 25 percent cut to Medicare payments that would kick in on Jan. 1 (Haberkorn, 12/9).
Los Angeles Times: Senate Approves Delaying Medicare Pay Cut
The Senate on Wednesday agreed unanimously to postpone for another year a steep cut in what Medicare pays doctors, clearing away one of the most pressing issues still on the congressional agenda (Levey, 12/9).
The Wall Street Journal: Republican Targets Use Of Costly Medical Devices
Republicans should talk less about "death panels" and more about cutting the overuse of expensive medical procedures, said a powerful GOP lawmaker who has the health industry in his sights. Darrell Issa, who won the nod Wednesday from House Republicans to become chairman of the House's chief investigative committee, had raised alarms among Democrats by suggesting he would swamp the White House with subpoenas and hold at least one hearing a week (Mundy, 12/8).
The New York Times: Washington Rule Makers Out Of The Shadows
Federal rule makers, long the neglected stepchildren of Washington bureaucrats, suddenly find themselves at the center of power as they scramble to work out details of hundreds of sweeping financial and health care regulations that will ultimately affect most Americans (Lichtblau and Pear, 12/8).
NPR: A New Nursing Home Population The Young
An analysis of federal data from the Department of Health and Human Services by NPR's Investigative Unit found that there's one age group that's going into nursing homes at a higher rate. And it's not the elderly (Shapiro, 12/9).
Chicago Tribune: Doctor Who Battled Drug Addiction Now Counsels Others To Kick Theirs
Richard Ready had been a drinker most of his life, but by the time he became chief resident of neurosurgery at a prominent Chicago-area hospital, it was drugs, not alcohol, that kept him going (Hood, 12/9).
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