KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 4, 2010

Today's headlines include stories about parts of the new health reform law dealing with long-term care, high risk insurance pools and early retiree health insurance.  

Teaching Doctors The Price Of Primary Care
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The New York Times, Susan Okie writes: "Doctors in training have traditionally been insulated from information about the cost of the tests and treatments they order for patients - in fact, for decades, the subject was virtually taboo when professors and trainees discussed treatment decisions during hospital rounds. During four years of medical school, students learn to order tests and treatments based on their knowledge of diseases and of scientific evidence" (Kaiser Health News). Read the related story or watch the video.

Health On The Hill – May 3, 2010
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and Bloomberg News' Drew Armstrong talk with the Kaiser Family Foundation's Jackie Judd about state high risk pools. Some states have told the Department of Health and Human Services that they intend to establish their own high-risk health insurance pool while others have said they want the federal government to do it. The states' responses are part of a $5 billion program established by the health care overhaul law that is scheduled to be up and running in June and remain in place until the health insurance exchanges begin in 2014 (Kaiser Health News).

Parsing The New Law On Long-Term Care
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or Class Act, the first national plan to help the great majority of Americans who have no insurance for long-term care, became law in March. Even though there was little fanfare - the measure was just one piece of the broader health care overhaul - the idea had been hugely important to Mr. Kennedy and his staff, who had been working on the current version of the plan since 2003 (The New York Times).

Feds Offer $5B To Shore Up Early Retiree Coverage
Trying to entice cost-weary employers to keep providing medical coverage to early retirees, the Obama administration is making $5 billion available until the safety net of the new health care law is in place (The Associated Press).

18 States Refuse To Run Insurance Pools For Those With Preexisting Conditions
Eighteen states have said they will not administer a stopgap program to provide insurance coverage to people whose preexisting conditions have left them uninsured, forcing the federal government to do the work (The Washington Post).

Dentists Fear Pain From Finance Reform
Dentists are warning they may become unintended targets of legislation designed to overhaul Wall Street. Lawmakers and lobbyists have clashed for more than a year over whether a new consumer financial protection office would cover industries and companies that had nothing to do with the financial crisis of 2008 (The Hill).

Haggling Over Rules Begins
It' a simple question, but one with a complex answer: In health insurance, what counts as a medical expense? (Politico).

New Health-Care law Might Make Your Doctor More Informed, Efficient, Responsive
Fifty years from now, it is likely that almost all doctors will be members of teams that include case managers, social workers, dietitians, telephone counselors, data crunchers, guideline instructors, performance evaluators and external reviewers. They will be parts of organizations (which either employ them or contract with them) that are responsible for patients in and out of the hospital, in sickness and in health, over decades (The Washington Post).

Doctors Not In Stampede To Go Digital
President Obama has earmarked some $35 billion in stimulus funds to spur a nationwide rollout of computerized medical records, but even a big dose of federal cash is not enough for physicians like Dr. Robert LeBow of Southbridge (The Boston Globe).

Most Women Pay For Their Own Abortions
Most women getting abortions pay for them out of their own pockets, with private insurers picking up the cost for just 12%, according to a new survey (The Wall Street Journal).

New Okla. Anti- Abortion Law Temporarily Blocked
Oklahoma's attorney general agreed Monday to temporarily block enforcement of a controversial new state law that requires pregnant women to get an ultrasound and hear a detailed description of the fetus before they get an abortion (The Associated Press).

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