KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 31, 2010

Today's headlines include reports of waning support for the new health law as the mid-term elections near.

Insuring Your Health: Regulators Probe Allegations Of Fraud In Health Credit Cards
In this Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "These days, you may leave your dentist's office with more than a toothbrush and dental floss in your bag. Thousands of dentists are offering patients health-care credit cards to cover the work that needs to be done, with seemingly hard-to-resist repayment terms. If you need care and don't have insurance to cover it or cash in hand, it's tempting to sign up" (Kaiser Health News).

Support Slips For Health Reform Law, New KFF Poll Shows
In this Kaiser Health news short take, Laurie McGinley writes: "Public support for the health overhaul declined in August, a development sure to stir concerns among the Obama administration and congressional Democrats seeking to shore up support for the law in the months leading up to the mid-term elections" (Kaiser Health News).

Public Sours On Health Care As Midterms Loom
A new poll shows that public support for health care reform dropped sharply in August – a dagger in Democrats' hopes that their landmark legislation will help them in November's midterm (Politico).

About 2,000 Employers To Draw Health Funds
Almost 2,000 employers and unions will be eligible to submit retirees' medical bills for reimbursement by a $5 billion federal fund, the Obama administration will disclose Tuesday, suggesting the fund will be spread widely but thinly (The Wall Street Journal).

HHS Authorizes First Firms To Certify Electronic Health Records Systems
The Obama administration on Monday named the first two companies empowered to approve the electronic health record (EHR) systems soon to be required of all providers (The Hill's Healthwatch).

IBM Works On China's Medical Records
The Chinese government's plan to spend billions on health-care reform has multinational technology companies like International Business Machines Corp. and Dell Inc. racing to secure a slice of a huge potential market that has long been too fragmented and disorganized to crack (The Wall Street Journal).

News Analysis: AARP Looms As Key Player In Deficit Panel Debate
The giant advocacy group for older Americans – once known as the American Association of Retired Persons -- has tens of millions of members, a powerful lobbying organization and a nationwide ability to mobilize at the grass roots. It also has an all-consuming interest in protecting Social Security, and it increasingly appears to be on a collision course with the 18-member deficit panel (The Fiscal Times).

VA Eases Rules Allowing Vietnam Vets To Get Treatment For Agent Orange Exposure 
The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing for more than 150,000 Vietnam War veterans to apply for benefits in the next 18 months thanks to new regulations making it easier to compensate for health problems caused by exposure to the Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange (The Washington Post). 

Nebraska Governor Says Health Reform A Threat To State Education Funding
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is calling on the state's education advocates to support a repeal of the Democrats' new health reform law - or risk getting fewer dollars in the future (The Hill's Healthwatch).

Officials Still Negotiating Details Of Legislation Needed To Ease L.A. County Health Services Shortfall
State and federal health officials were still negotiating two key pieces of state legislation late Monday that would add a five-year extension to a federal Medicaid waiver set to expire Tuesday. It would also ensure funding from a hospital provider fee levied by the state on private hospitals and matched by Medicaid (Los Angeles Times).

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