KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: June 15, 2010

Today's headlines include reports about the response to new federal rules regarding health insurance costs.  

Rating System For Medicare Advantage Plans Slated For Upgrade
Susan Jaffe, writing for Kaiser Health News in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "For consumers looking for bargains on refrigerators or restaurants, ratings can be helpful. But a score card doesn't work as well for selecting a Medicare private health plan" (Kaiser Health News). 

Cheers, Jeers For New Federal Rules On Changes In Health Benefits
Kaiser Health News staff writers Phil Galewitz and Mary Agnes Carey report on the new "grandfather" rule: "Business groups gave mixed reviews Monday to new Obama administration rules limiting how much employers and insurers can change their health insurance plans – while remaining exempt from potentially costly new consumer protections. Consumer groups praised the regulations, saying the rules would ensure that millions of Americans receive the full benefits of the new health-overhaul law" (Kaiser Health News).

Most Elite Medical Schools Rank Low On 'Social Mission'
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "A new study is turning the traditional medical school ranking list on its head. When it comes to 'social mission' - graduating doctors who are minorities, practice primary care and/or work in underserved areas, private schools (especially those in the Northeast) are at the bottom of the barrel, according to the survey published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine" (Kaiser Health News). This story also appears on NPR's health blog, Shots
New Health-Care Rules Could Add Costs, And Benefits, To Some Insurance Plans
If you like your health plan, you can keep it. That's what President Obama promised during the long months of debate over health-care reform. On Monday, the administration issued new rules to fulfill that promise. But your plan might not be quite the same -- it could offer more benefits, and it could cost more (The Washington Post). 

Gov't Puts Employers On Notice Over Health Costs
The Obama administration had a message Monday for employers who want to keep federal bureaucrats from rewriting the rules for their company medical plans: Don't jack up costs for workers, and you won't have to worry about interference from the new health care law (The Associated Press).

White House Moves To Keep Employers From Dropping Insurance
The White House on Monday outlined broad new rules designed to prevent employers from dropping health insurance benefits for their workers or shifting huge new costs onto them (The Hill). 

Critics Sound Alarm On Health Regs
The Obama administration issued strict rules Monday under which even some small changes to existing health care plans will make them subject to the requirements of the new health care reform law (Politico). 

Seeing Threat To Individual Policies, State Officials Urge A Gradual Route To Change
State insurance officials say they fear that health insurance companies will cancel policies and leave the individual insurance market in some states because of a provision of the new health care law that requires insurers to spend more of each premium dollar for the benefit of consumers (The New York Times). 

Rising Costs: A Health Care Challenge For Democrats
For Democrats, passing the new health care law may have been the easy part. Now that it's the law, everything that happens in health care, whether due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or not, is their responsibility (NPR). 

Both Parties Try To Score Points Off Health Care Law
The White House has been trying to highlight popular parts of the health care law as they go into effect. Last week, it was $250 prescription drug rebate checks that Democrats hope will improve seniors' opinions of the law (NPR). 

Unions Press Senate To Change Jobs Bill
The AFL-CIO is pressing the Senate to add an extension of unemployment and healthcare benefits to a new jobs bill (The Hill). 

Doctors' Group Wants More Accuracy From Insurers
One in five medical claims is processed inaccurately by commercial health insurers, often leaving physicians shortchanged, according to the nation's largest doctor's group (The Associated Press).

'Train Wreck' In Bay State
Reading the health reform news in Massachusetts last week, you could easily see the glass as half full or half empty (Politico).

Study Praises Howard, Other Minority Medical Schools
Graduates of medical schools at historically black universities such as Howard and Morehouse are the most likely to practice the kind of medicine especially needed under the overhaul than graduates of elite medical schools at universities such as John Hopkins, Northwestern and Vanderbilt in the Annals of Internal Medicine ranked medical schools based on the communities where their graduates worked and whether those doctors practiced primary care. The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Howard University College of Medicine in the District and Meharry Medical College in Nashville ranked as the top three, in that order. By the study's "social mission" criteria, other well-known medical schools ranked far lower (The Washington Post). 

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