KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 18, 2010

Today's headlines highlight a range of health policy developments -- from health reform implementation to the marketplace and the political arena.

Medical Spending Spiking In Once Thrifty Areas
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports on Provo, Utah: "If there is any place that should have medical spending under control, this is it" (Kaiser Health News).

Hospital Tries 'Speed Dating' To Attract Doctors, Patients
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold, working in collaboration with NPR, reports on a new way for patients to find physicians: "It's Tuesday afternoon, and time for speed dating to begin – at a local hospital near Dallas. … The program works the same way as romantic speed dating, but here, the hospital is hoping to make a match between physicians and patients. It's a tool to recruit doctors – critical drivers of revenue – and consumers" (Kaiser Health News).

Insuring Your Health: New Health Law Throws Lifeline To 'Uninsurables'
In this new consumer column by Michelle Andrews writes about high-risk pools: "If you're sick - or have ever been sick - and can't get insurance, the new health-care law promises fast relief: access to guaranteed coverage through a special federally funded insurance program starting in July. The goal is to provide comprehensive and affordable coverage to more people. But as the starting date approaches, uncertainties abound. Details have yet to emerge about the costs and benefits of the 'high-risk pools' to be set up under the program" (Kaiser Health News).

Health On The Hill – May 17, 2010
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey, CQ-Roll Call's Bob Benenson and KFF's Jackie Judd talk about how health care is proving to be a key issue in many Senate and House races around the country, with some Democrats who voted for the health care law having to defend their support for the measure (Kaiser Health News).

Millions Of Small Businesses Could Be Eligible For Health Care Tax Credits
As many as 4 million small businesses might be eligible for federal tax credits to help cover the cost of health insurance for their workers, administration officials said Monday, one of the first benefits to flow from the recently enacted health-care overhaul. (The Washington Post).

Small-Business Owner Looks For Healthcare Relief
Maurice Stein sells face paint that can make you look like a bronze statue or an alien. Or a vampire. For those in need of facial hair, he's got a big glass case full of glue-on sideburns, moustaches and mutton chops (Los Angeles Times).

In Health Law, A Clearer View Of Coverage
Ever since Thomas DeLorenzo was accepted to three law schools outside his home state of California, he has spent entire days on the phone with health insurers in other states, compiling information that he enters on a giant spreadsheet (The New York Times).

White House Seeks Missing Health Bounce
The White House is aggressively touting the new healthcare law after failing to see an immediate bounce in polls from congressional approval of the legislation (The Hill).

Amid Concern, White House Speeds Up Health Care Benefits
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies are using the levers of government to speed up and promote what they consider the most popular aspects of the new health care law before a highly skeptical public passes judgment in November (Politico).

Nobelist Is Chosen To Fill Cancer Post
Dr. Harold E. Varmus, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist and former director of the National Institutes of Health, will become director of the National Cancer Institute, the White House announced Monday (The New York Times).

Analysis: Two Tiered Medical Care For Haves And Have Nots
A small but growing number of physicians are pursuing Dr. Ashton's approach: abandoning traditional insurance-based practice to offer VIP treatment, including more time with patients, in return for upfront fees (The Fiscal Times).

Tip: Hospitals Try PSA's Before Spending On Ads
With the economic downturn, hospitals have been facing budget cuts, especially in their marketing divisions. But should most hospitals even be spending money on advertising? Lynn Neary speaks with James Unland, editor of the Journal of Health Care Finance (NPR).

Resisting The Push To Digitize
Electronic health records are often discussed as a panacea in health policy, with the potential to streamline record keeping, reduce costs and improve quality of care in one fell swoop. … But as a particularly stringent and new regulation nears, numerous medical groups say that the aggressive government push to digitize is too much, too soon (Politico).

Health Overhaul Hits Sales Commissions
Among the first to feel the effects of the nation's health-care system overhaul are insurance salespeople, whose commissions for selling policies to individuals and small groups are themselves getting overhauled (The Wall Street Journal).

Deal Follows All-Nighters In Minnesota
On one central and divisive question of health care coverage, lawmakers agreed to let Mr. Pawlenty - and later his successor - decide whether to extend Medicaid coverage to more poor Minnesotans, a notion that some Republicans have mocked as Obamacare and that Mr. Pawlenty has indicated he considers a bad idea (The New York Times).

Minnesota Budget Deal Is A Prize For Pawlenty
Minnesota lawmakers on Monday approved a budget compromise with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a political victory for the possible presidential candidate (The Wall Street Journal).

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