KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 29, 2010

This week, as yet another major health insurer reports quarterly gains, the industry says it will stop the practice of rescissions earlier than required by the new reform law. Meanwhile, other headlines examine key provisions of the measure, such as its high risk pools.  

Consumer Confusion Triggers State Crackdown On Discount Health Plans
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Maggie Mertens writes: "State regulators are cracking down on a health care product that targets the growing group of uninsured and underinsured Americans: the discount health plan" (Kaiser Health News).

New Health Care Law Traps Some In Pricey State Plans
About 200,000 Americans whose illnesses have kept them from getting regular health insurance will not be allowed to enroll this summer in a new lower cost federal program for people like them because they already buy pricey state-run plans (USA Today).

Seniors Aren't Flocking To Quality Health Plans
Millions of seniors signed up for popular Medicare Advantage insurance plans don't get the best quality, an independent study found (The Associated Press).

In 2014, IRS Will Become Health Insurance Enforcer
The IRS processed more than 230 million tax returns last year, paid 127 million refunds and received about 68 million phone calls. The agency is responsible for enforcing a tax code that, at 71,000 pages, makes Anna Karenina look like a comic book. Starting in 2014, the agency will have another task: making sure all Americans have health insurance (USA Today).

Study Finds Many Unpaid Tasks In A Primary-Care Doctor's Workday
In addition to seeing patients, a primary-care physician each day must address more than three dozen urgent but uncompensated tasks, according to a study that provides a rare, quantitative look into the mechanics of office practice (The Washington Post).

Study Shows 'Invisible' Burden Of Family Doctors
A new study detailing the uncompensated work burden on family doctors points to the need to change how they are paid, medical experts say - particularly as the new health care law promises to add millions more patients to the system (The New York Times).

Insurers Agree To Limit Health Care Cancelations
Several health insurers said Wednesday they plan an early start on a slice of health care reform by pledging to limit the circumstances in which they cancel coverage when a customer gets sick (The Associated Press).

Insurance Industry Will End Rescission In May
The health insurance industry has decided to end its practice of canceling claims once a patient gets sick next month, well before the new health care law would have required it, the industry's chief spokesman said Wednesday (Politico).

WellPoint's Profit Jumps 51%
An uproar over hefty rate hikes for Anthem Blue Cross customers in California is taking a bite out of the insurer's revenue, but its parent company nonetheless reported soaring profit Wednesday (Los Angeles Times).

WellPoint Net Rises; Other Health Insurers Boost Forecasts
So far, the new health law has had little impact on health insurers, whose business practices were the main target of overhaul efforts, and only a modest effect on drug companies (The Wall Street Journal).

Hospital Cuts Hit Health-Care Workers
With one hospital closing and others slashing budgets, the city's healthcare-job marketplace could get crowded in the coming days, and some employees fear they could be facing a long spell without work (The Wall Street Journal).

US Investigates Partners' Contracts
The US Department of Justice has opened a civil investigation into possible anticompetitive behavior by Partners HealthCare System Inc., the region's most powerful hospital and physician network (The Boston Globe).

Bishop Bans RI Hospitals From Pro-Health Reform Group
The Roman Catholic bishop of Providence has withdrawn two hospitals sponsored by his diocese from membership in a Catholic hospital group that supports health care reform (The Associated Press).

Bartering For Healthcare Comments Hurt Reid's Republican Challenger
Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden has seen her momentum slow in recent weeks as she has struggled to defend her claim that a bartering system - such as paying doctors with chickens - can lower the cost of healthcare (The Hill).

Path Clears For Health Chief To Lead SEIU
Mary Kay Henry, head of the Service Employees International Union's health-care division, is likely to take the lead at the 1.8 million member union following the decision by rival Anna Burger to withdraw from the race to succeed longtime President Andy Stern (The Wall Street Journal).

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