First Edition: June 14, 2011
In today's headlines, news from last night's GOP presidential debate, as well as the latest developments related to Medicare and Medicaid.
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Out-Of-Network Ambulance Rides Can Bring Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "When you're calling for an ambulance, chances are good that you won't think to ask for one that's in your health plan's provider network. And in most cases, you wouldn't have much control over who it is anyway. That could leave you with hassles and extra charges for an out-of-network ride" (Andrews, 6/14).
The New York Times: 7 In GOP Square Off, 7 months From First Vote
The spotlight was trained squarely on Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, who has come under withering attack for the health care plan he signed into law that resembles the plan Mr. Obama pushed through Congress. But his rivals treaded lightly, and he relentlessly turned the conversation back to Mr. Obama, emerging unscathed from his return to the debate stage four years after losing his first bid for the party's nomination (Zeleny and Rutenberg, 6/13).
The Washington Post: Republican Presidential Candidates Attend New Hampshire Debate
Monday's forum included nearly all the leading contenders. But most of them remain largely unknown nationally, a factor that could explain their reluctance to go at one another. At this early stage, they are introducing themselves to a nationwide audience, and testing their competitors' strengths and vulnerabilities (Tumulty and Rucker, 6/13).
The Associated Press: Republicans Assail Obama, Not Each Other In Debate
Republican White House hopefuls condemned President Barack Obama's handling of the economy from the opening moments of their first major debate of the campaign season Monday night, and pledged emphatically to repeal his historic year-old health care overhaul.
Los Angeles Times: GOP Rivals Go Easy On Romney In First Debate
The nationally broadcast two-hour debate, the first major meeting of the 2012 presidential contest, hewed to Ronald Reagan's "11th commandment" of intraparty harmony. On more than one occasion, rival candidates ducked direct invitations to attack Romney. Tim Pawlenty, who had skewered Romney's healthcare mandate on Sunday as "Obamneycare," shrank from leveling that charge face to face on the New Hampshire debate stage (West, 6/13).
The Wall Street Journal: Candidates Run Against Regulation
Republican presidential hopefuls on Monday pressed for the dismantling of government regulations drawn up over 40 years, using a candidates' debate here to call for the scaling back or elimination of environmental, labor, financial and health-care rules (Weisman and King, 6/14).
Last night, Kaiser Health News tracked additional coverage of the GOP presidential debate.
NPR: Democrats Revive Medicare As Political Weapon
Just how powerful is Medicare as a political weapon? So powerful that for the past two election cycles it's been a favorite cudgel for both Republicans and Democrats. And the election of Democrat Kathy Hochul to fill a traditionally GOP seat in upstate New York in May is just the latest demonstration (Rovner, 6/14).
Politico: Some Senate Dems Demur On Medicaid
There may be more to read from what wasn't included in Sen. Jay Rockefeller's letter to the White House last week than what was in it. Multiple letters released June 9 - designed to show that Senate Democrats won't support efforts to dismantle Medicaid - didn't mention the Republican proposals to repeal the program's maintenance of effort provisions. And they didn't include 12 Democratic senators who some worry may be persuaded to join Republican efforts to chip away at the program (Millman and Haberkorn, 6/13).
The Wall Street Journal: Aetna Says U.S. Regulators Lift Sanctions Blocking Medicare Sales
The removal of the restriction imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last April is important as Aetna, like other carriers, seeks to bulk up its presence in the Medicare category. Aetna said it will immediately resume promoting its offerings under Medicare Advantage, the private-plan version of the program that covers the elderly and disabled, and the prescription drug benefit. The company will begin enrolling new beneficiaries with effective dates beginning July 1. Aetna currently has around one million Medicare Advantage and drug-plan beneficiaries, and will now be able to compete for new ones during Medicare's autumn open-enrollment period (Mathews, 6/13).
The Associated Press: Aetna Buys Genworth Financial Business For $290 Million
Aetna Inc. said Monday it will buy the Medicare supplement business of Genworth Financial Inc. for about $290 million, as it becomes the latest health insurer to announce a plan that capitalizes on the aging baby boomer population (Murphy, 6/13).
The New York Times: Risks: Better Odds For Surviving Complex Surgery
The odds that a Medicare patient will die after undergoing one of eight high-risk operations have fallen sharply, an analysis of medical records has found (Rabin, 6/13).
USA Today: Better-Informed Patients Can Help Cut Costs, Study Shows
A combination of giving patients more information about their conditions and better managing their medications can slow the revolving door of Medicare patients in and out of hospitals by about 20%, a study released Monday by Harvard University shows (Kennedy, 6/14).
The New York Times: Progress Claimed In Reporting Abuse At Group Homes
Roughly 40 percent of the allegations of physical abuse of the developmentally disabled at group homes and institutions in New York in recent months were not reported to law enforcement authorities, a senior state official said on Monday (Hakim, 6/13).
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