KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 6, 2010

Today's headlines include news about Medicare doctor payment and the latest on the WellPoint rate flap.

KHN Column: The Independent Payment Advisory Board And Health Care Price Controls
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, James Capretta writes: "White House Budget Director Peter Orszag has speculated that creation of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board just might be viewed decades from now as the most important and far-reaching change enacted in the entire health reform legislation--despite the lack of significant public attention to it before passage. He might be right" (Kaiser Health News). 

Hospitals Criticized For Keeping Quiet On Charity Care
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby writes: "Too many nonprofit hospitals fail to adequately publicize their charity-care programs, two advocacy groups say in a survey report released today" (Kaiser Health News).

What The Health Law Didn't Fix: Medicare Doc Pay
Call it Medicare's version of Groundhog Day. For the third time this year, Congress has just days to avert a scheduled 21 percent cut in pay to doctors who treat seniors and others on the Medicare program. And while just about everyone agrees a cut of that magnitude would be devastating for Medicare and the patients it serves, no one seems to be able to figure out how to solve the problem in anything except a stopgap way (NPR).

WellPoint Rates Face New Scrutiny From State And Federal Officials
State and federal officials moved Wednesday to investigate insurance giant WellPoint Inc.'s massive rate hikes in California, saying the company may have used inaccurate or faulty information to justify increases it canceled last week (Los Angeles Times).

Administration Steps Up Scrutiny Of Insurer WellPoint
The Obama administration escalated a long-running battle with one of the nation's largest health insurers Tuesday night, calling on state governments to scrutinize any rate increase sought by WellPoint (The Washington Post).

WellPoint To Beef Up Rate Reviews
WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela Braly is moving to respond to complaints about her company's health-insurance premium increases by adding new layers of oversight to pricing practices (The Wall Street Journal).

Poll: Poizner Surges In California Governor's Race
With just over a month to go before the Republican primary, Insurance Commissoner Steve Poizner has produced internal polling – from Public Opinion Strategies, the same firm that polled for Scott Brown in Massachusetts – that shows Ms. Whitman's one-time lead of 48 percentage points has dropped to 10, and five outside all markets outside of San Francisco (The Christian Science Monitor).

Town's Health Care Bill Triggers Pain
Everyone here seems to agree that a major factor is the rising cost of health care insurance for employees and retirees, which has jumped by $20 million in 10 years. But there is a deep split in town over what to do about it, illustrating on the most local level a friction that exists statewide as cities and towns struggle with mounting health care costs (The Boston Globe).

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