First Edition: April 29, 2014
Today's headlines include a report that the Obama administration is looking for new talent to run healthcare.gov.
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Emanuel: Although 'Not A Perfect Law,' ACA Is Protecting Patients
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: “In his new book, 'Reinventing American Health Care,' Ezekiel Emanuel offers some surprising predictions about where health care is going in the next decade and beyond, including forecasting the end of health insurance companies as we know them. Along the way, readers will learn more about what's actually in the Affordable Care Act and its tortuous political path to passage. There's health care trivia too, including the fact that compulsory health insurance dates back to 1790, when ship owners had to buy medical insurance for their seamen. Who knew?” (Andrews, 4/29). Read the interview.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Public Overwhelmingly Supports Law’s Contraceptive Mandate, Poll Finds
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey writes: “By a nearly two-to-one margin, the public supports the health law’s requirement that private health plans cover prescription birth control without cost-sharing, according to a poll released Tuesday. The provision, which is at the heart of a case being weighed by the Supreme Court, was endorsed 61 to 32 percent and was most popular among women, younger adults, Democrats and independents, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll (Carey, 4/29). Check out what else is on the blog.
The New York Times: Administration Begins Search For New Contractors To Run Health Care Site
The Obama administration has begun a wide-ranging search for companies to run the online federal health insurance exchange, seeking new talent to prevent a repeat of problems that immobilized the website last fall. In laying out specifications for the project, the administration also provided insight into the next phase of development of the insurance marketplace, which is expected to handle a significant increase in enrollment over the next several years (Pear, 4/29).
The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal: UPMC Builds Analytics To Curb Health Care Costs
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center this year will begin selling analytics software it built to help doctors deliver successful procedures at the lowest cost possible. UPMC built the software to curb its own health care costs, but is in discussions with three potential partners, says Robert DeMichiei, chief financial officer of UPMC. Some physicians testing the software are already beginning to modify their practices to curb costs, he said (Boulton, 4/28).
The New York Times’ Dealbook: Pfizer Proposes A Marriage With AstraZeneca, Easing Taxing In A Move To Britain
On Monday, Pfizer proposed a $99 billion acquisition of its British rival AstraZeneca that would allow it to reincorporate in Britain. Doing so would allow Pfizer to escape the United States corporate tax rate and tap into a mountain of cash trapped overseas, saving it billions of dollars each year and making the company more competitive with other global drug makers. A deal — which would be the biggest in the drug industry in more than a decade — may ultimately not be done. AstraZeneca said on Monday that it had rebuffed Pfizer, after first turning down the company in January. Nonetheless, the pursuit by Pfizer, founded in a redbrick building in Brooklyn in 1849, has made it clear that the company wishes to effectively renounce its United States citizenship (de la Merced and Gelles, 4/28).
NPR: Tax Breaks Could Be Biggest Prize In Pfizer Deal For AstraZeneca
Pfizer finally fessed up and told the world that it wants to buy British drugmaker AstraZeneca. It wasn't a very well-kept secret. The New York-based drugmaker confirmed publicly that it approached AstraZeneca in January about getting together. AstraZeneca, based in London, rebuffed the New Yorkers (Hensley, 4/28).
The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer Sees Tax Savings From AstraZeneca Deal
Pfizer Inc.'s nearly $100 billion offer to buy British rival AstraZeneca AZN.LN -0.23% PLC, if accepted, would allow the pharmaceutical giant to move its official headquarters overseas, saving the company that started 165 years ago on a Brooklyn, N.Y., street corner billions in taxes over the next decade. Company executives were outspoken about how their attempted takeover of AstraZeneca, which was confirmed early Monday, would help Pfizer slash its tax bill, saving $1 billion or more each year by one estimate (Hoffman, 4/28).
The New York Times: Echoes Of Past May Not Carry As Court Weighs 2nd Abortion Law
For the second time this year, a federal appeals panel here heard arguments about the constitutionality of a new state law governing abortion. But despite much in common between the two laws — one in Texas, and the other, the subject of Monday’s hearing, in Mississippi — their effects would differ substantially, raising the possibility that the same court weighing similar laws might arrive at different conclusions (Robertson, 4/28).
Los Angeles Times: State To Provide $75 Million In Mental Health Grants
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has announced the approval of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jails or hospitals. The grants will go to 28 counties for new or expanded services. They will add 827 residential mental health beds and crisis "stabilization" beds, and pay for more than three dozen vehicles and five dozen staff members for mobile support teams, which often accompany local law enforcement to defuse tense situations and direct those in need to care. More than half of the funding — $40.9 million — will go to Los Angeles County, which plans 16 new residential crisis care facilities, each with room for 16 adult residents, including those who are also struggling with substance abuse (Romney, 4/28).
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