KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 13, 2010

Among today's headlines are reports that some Republican senators are taking aim at President Obama's pick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Health Law Guarantees Protections For Emergency Room Visits
Kaiser Health News' Maggie Mertens writes: "When Kelly Arellanes fell off a horse and suffered a severe head injury in rural Arkansas, medics said she would need to be airlifted immediately to the nearest hospital-50 miles away in Fort Smith. There, emergency surgery saved her life – but at a cost" (Kaiser Health News).

Rescissions: Much Ado About Nothing
In this Kaiser Health News column, John Goodman writes: "How many times have you heard President Obama say, 'Health insurers won't be able to drop your coverage just because you get sick?' Or Kathleen Sebelius? Or the Democratic leadership in Congress? Or the mainstream news media?" (Kaiser Health News).

Health Care Defense Offered
The Obama administration has previewed its legal defense of health care reform in its response to a case in Eastern Michigan that sought to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional (Politico).

US Files First Defense Of Health Care Law In Court
Critics who allege that Congress overstepped the U.S. Constitution by requiring Americans to carry health insurance are "flatly wrong," the Obama administration said Wednesday in its first court defense of the landmark health care law (The Associated Press).

GOP Targets Berwick
Senate Republicans revived their health care "rationing" theme Wednesday evening as they fired their first salvo in what's expected to be a fierce battle over the confirmation Donald M. Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Politico).

GOP Targets Nominee To Run Health Agency
Republicans have opened an assault on the nomination of Harvard professor Donald Berwick to lead the huge agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, calling Berwick an advocate for "rationing"' health care (The Boston Globe).

New Enforcement Tools Help Fight Health Care Fraud
The government says it recovered $2.5 billion in overpayments for the Medicare trust fund last year as the Obama administration focused attention on fraud enforcement efforts in the health care industry (The Associated Press/Washington Post).

Senators Question In-Home Caregivers
The Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation into the practices of Amedisys Inc., the nation's largest home health-care company, and three other companies that provide in-home therapy visits reimbursed by Medicare (The Wall Street Journal).

Orszag: Healthcare Law Doesn't Include More Spending Than Previously Reported
The new healthcare law doesn't include more spending and less deficit reduction than previously reported, an Obama administration official said Wednesday (The Hill).

Obey Suggests Education, Labor, Health Programs Could Face $3.5B In Cuts
The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee warned education, health and labor programs could be cut by an additional $3.5 billion from President Barack Obama's budget request (The Hill).

Schwarzenegger's Revised Budget Plan Is Expected To Eliminate Health Programs
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to present a revised budget plan Friday that would dismantle some of California's landmark healthcare programs after efforts to scale them back have been reversed by federal courts (Los Angeles Times).

Report: Millions In Area At Risk Of Being Denied Insurance
An estimated 2.6 million people in Virginia, Maryland and the District have diagnosed preexisting medical conditions that could put them at risk of being denied insurance coverage if they try to buy it on their own, according to reports released Wednesday (The Washington Post).

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