First Edition: August 13, 2013
Today's headlines include reports about the status of the U.S. budget as well as developments in the hospital marketplace.
Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Presents Complex Choices For People With Disabilities
CPR’s Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "The Affordable Care Act has set new standards — called essential health benefits — outlining what health insurance companies must now cover. But there's a catch: Insurance firms can still pick and choose to some degree which specific therapies they'll cover within some categories of benefit. And the way insurers interpret the rules could turn out to be a big deal for people with disabilities who need ongoing therapy to improve their day-to-day lives" (Whitney, 8/13). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Supreme Court Decision On Same-Sex Marriage Leaves Many Couples Awaiting Federal Rules On Insurance
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Same-sex couples applauded in June when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, but they are still anxiously awaiting federal guidance about how the ruling affects health insurance benefits" (Andrews, 8/13). Read the column.
Kaiser Health News: Wash. Rejection Of 5 Companies' Health Plans Draws Criticism
The Seattle Times' Carol M. Ostrom, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "Critics say that Washington state's rejection of individual health-insurance plans from five companies that applied to sell inside the newly created exchange marketplace will limit consumer choices and hurt continuity of care for those with low incomes" (8/13). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: As Lawmakers Roam Their Home Territory, Health Law Arguments Simmer; Talking The Health Law's Impact On Hospitals Serving Medicare Patients
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on how congressional lawmakers might discuss the health law during the August recess: "The battle over the Affordable Care Act shows absolutely no signs of abating, so it's no surprise that the packets distributed by both parties on Capitol Hill for members heading home for the August recess paint the 2010 health care law in starkly different ways" (Carey, 8/13).
Also on Capsules, a video of Jordan Rau on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Monday. He talks about the latest round of readmissions penalties in Medicare (8/12). Checkout what else is on the blog.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: US government Reports Budget Deficit Down 37.6 Percent Through First 10 Months Of Budget Year
Still, looming budget fights in Congress are complicating the picture. When lawmakers return from their recess in September, they will need to increase the government's borrowing limit. They will also have to approve a spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1. Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on both measures. Republicans want President Barack Obama to accept deeper cuts in domestic government programs and in expensive benefit programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Obama has argued that Republicans must be willing to accept higher taxes on the highest-earning Americans (8/12).
The New York Times: A Limit On Consumer Costs Is Delayed In Health Care Law
In another setback for President Obama's health care initiative, the administration has delayed until 2015 a significant consumer protection in the law that limits how much people may have to spend on their own health care (Pear, 8/12).
Politico: Karl Rove, Mike Lee Spar On Obamacare
The war over the GOP's strategy to fight Obamacare spilled onto the radio waves Monday as Karl Rove went toe-to-toe with Utah Sen. Mike Lee for an hour on Sean Hannity's radio show. The two men represent the gaping chasm between two wings of the Republican Party on the fall spending strategy. The Utah senator and other conservatives in the House and Senate are vowing to oppose fall spending bills that contain funding for the health care law (Everett, 8/12).
The New York Times: A Former Engine Of The G.O.P., The Town Hall Meeting, Cools Down
Many lawmakers, often from safe districts, are still holding town halls throughout the month. While a number of them are drawing voters outraged over Mr. Obama's health care law, the intensity is nothing compared to the scale of 2009. But where there are no gatherings, some groups have decided to take matters into their own hands. After seeing a paltry schedule of Congressional town hall meetings this month, another major conservative group, Heritage Action for America, decided it would stage public forums of its own from Arkansas to Pennsylvania. The aim is to recruit people for a group it calls the Sentinels, a citizens' brigade of sorts, to reach lawmakers through other means, like writing letters to the editor, dialing in to talk-radio programs and mastering the language of Twitter and Facebook (Peters, 8/12).
The New York Times: New Laws And Rising Costs Create A Surge Of Supersizing Hospitals
Hospitals across the nation are being swept up in the biggest wave of mergers since the 1990s, a development that is creating giant hospital systems that could one day dominate American health care and drive up costs (Creswell and Abelson, 8/12).
NPR: Patients Can Pay A High Price For ER Convenience
Medical entrepreneurs are remaking the emergency room experience. They're pulling the emergency room out of the hospital and planting it in the strip mall. It's called a "freestanding ER," and some 400 of them have opened across the country in the past four years. The trend is hot around Houston, where there are already 41 freestanding ERs and 10 more in the works (Feibel, 8/13).
Los Angeles Times: State Senators Urge Maker Of OxyContin To Turn Over Names Of Physicians
Two state senators on Monday called on the maker of OxyContin to turn over the names of California physicians it suspects recklessly prescribed its pills to drug dealers and addicts. The lawmakers were responding to an article in The Times on Sunday that described a decade-long effort by Purdue Pharma to identify potentially problematic prescribers of its potent and addictive drug (Glover and Girion, 8/12).
Los Angeles Times: Schools Can Administer Insulin Without Licensed Nurses, Court Says
California schools may give students insulin injections and other medications without having to call in licensed nurses, the state's highest court ruled Monday. … The unanimous decision was a defeat for the powerful California Nurses Assn., which had argued that only licensed healthcare workers could administer medicine under a state law that bars the unauthorized practice of nursing (Dolan, 8/12).
USA Today/Detroit Free Press: Prosecutors Seek $9 Million Bond For Cancer Doctor
If a $170,000 bond sounds too high, try $9 million. That's the latest predicament facing Farid Fata, the Oakland County, Mich., doctor charged with, among other things, intentionally misdiagnosing healthy patients with cancer and pumping them with chemo to make money (Baldas, 8/12).
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