KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 6, 2010

Among today's headlines is news about a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts insurers who are seeking to reverse the state insurance commissioner's decision and allow them to raise rates.

Changes Coming To Insurance Plans
KHN staff writer Julie Appleby sets out to clarify how the new health law might change consumers' current health insurance premiums and benefits. "Consumers and employers who provide health insurance are scrambling to understand what will change in their premiums and benefits once provisions of the recently passed law go into effect" (Kaiser Health News).

Flexible Spending Accounts Getting Slightly Less Flexible
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas writes about how FSA rules are going to be different. "Changing rules on flexible spending accounts mean that starting next year, you can use money from an FSA account to pay for eyeglasses or acupuncture but not an aspirin -- that is, unless you have a prescription for it" (Kaiser Health News).

AP Source: Report On Social Security Delayed
The Obama administration is delaying release of the annual report on the financial health of Social Security and Medicare so that the new report can reflect the impact of the recently passed health care overhaul (The Associated Press).

For Some, A Low Profile On Health Vote
Before Congress left town for the spring recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged rank-and-file Democrats to return home and tout the benefits of the landmark health care bill. But instead of barnstorming their districts celebrating their historic accomplishment, some have been content to remain beneath the radar, reluctant to advertise their role in passing the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic policy agenda (Politico).

Issa Aims To Unmask Health Care Deals
A top House Republican is investigating the legislative deals the White House and Democratic leadership cut with special interest groups while crafting the new health care reform law. And California Rep. Darrell Issa is not happy with the American Medical Association's terse response to his questions. Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, sent letters to five special interest groups, most of which supported reform and cut deals with the Democrats (Politico).

Online Resources For Information On Health-Care Reform
The ink was hardly dry on the health-care overhaul law when foundations, industry groups and consumer advocates began putting together guides to the new rules (The Washington Post).

Health Insurers Sue To Raise Rates
A half-dozen health insurers yesterday filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to reverse last week's decision by the insurance commissioner to block double-digit premium increases - a ruling they say could leave them with hundreds of millions in losses this year (The Boston Globe).

Doctors Face Board Specialty 'Expiration Dates'
The next time you're at the doctor's office, take a peek at those certificates hanging on the wall. Like gallons of milk, some of them are expiring. For the first time since leaving medical school, many doctors are having to take tests to renew board certification in their fields - 147 specialties from dermatology to obstetrics (The Associated Press).

Feud Between Cedars-Sinai And Surgeon Puts Focus On Patient Safety
After doctors in Florida failed to remove his deep-seated brain tumor, Marc Kotolnick traveled to Los Angeles to see Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a star in the emerging field of minimally invasive brain surgery (Los Angeles Times).

Nursing Backlog Hits California Community Colleges
California needs 10,000 nurses, but the waiting list is so long at the state's community colleges that prospective nursing students are waiting for years to get in. Some are turning to private schools despite much higher costs (NPR).

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