KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Fight For The Senate Will Impact GOP Effort To Void Health Law; Figuring Out Insurance Is Tough Even For Health Economist

The New York Times: The Battle For The Senate
For Republicans intent on unraveling President Obama's accomplishments, electing Mitt Romney has been only one part of the equation. Almost as important was installing a Republican majority in the United States Senate, where 50 votes (plus the vice president) would be necessary to repeal much of health care reform, roll back tax increases on the rich and gut social welfare programs. The party’s hopes, however, have been severely damaged in recent weeks (11/5). 

Fox News (Video): Romney Provides Common Sense, Not Cheap Talk, On Health Care
Four years ago, President Obama said all the right things about health-care reform.  He talked about "bending the curve" of government health-care spending.  He said that he would make health care more efficient and lower health insurance premiums for every American family.  He promised that health-care reform would be debated on C-Span, with no back room negotiations. Talk is cheap. What the President and Democrats in Congress finally delivered -- ObamaCare -- added more taxes, more expensive regulations, and more government spending.  And it was tailor made by lobbyists behind closed doors (Paul Howard, 11/5).

WBUR (Audio): Michael Dukakis: The Next President Should Defend 'Obamacare'
We recently heard from former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who told us about a taxi driver she met on the campaign trail and how he was emblematic of middle class Americans whom she says would benefit under Mitt Romney's tax plan. ... Former Gov. Michael Dukakis disagrees. ... We speak with Dukakis about his stance (11/5).

Los Angeles Times: Anthem Clerical Error Adds Anxiety To Woman's Breast Cancer Fight
Ann Walton-Teter was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. About a month later, she was informed by her health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, that her coverage had been canceled because of a missed payment. Anthem would eventually admit that it was mistaken. But Walton-Teter, 43, had to battle the insurance giant to have her coverage restored just as she was recovering from a double mastectomy and preparing for chemotherapy (David Lazarus, 11/6).

The Washington Post: Facing Brain Surgery, A Health Economist Finds The Health-Care Market Hard To Navigate
Whether it is President Obama praising the Affordable Care Act or critics of "Obamacare" describing their ideal system, such words as "choice" and "competition" figure greatly. The idea is that informed consumers shopping for health care will lower cost and improve quality. Yet my difficulties show how hard it is — even for someone who has studied health-care and insurance issues — to navigate the health-care marketplace, particularly when you have a serious medical condition (Dahlia K. Remler, 11/5).

California Healthline: Move Toward Openness In Health Care Pricing, Performance
The cost of health care -- from the most tangible of products and services to the most arcane high-deductible insurance policies -- is relatively opaque in California's health care system. … In California, a new state law takes a first step toward transparency by prohibiting health insurers and providers from including "gag clauses" in contracts that forbid the disclosure of pricing information. We asked stakeholders and experts if California should be actively pursuing pricing and performance transparency (11/5).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Taking A Deeper Look At Readmissions Causes
Is Medicare being too tough on hospitals with high readmission rates? … Hospitals, which lose a portion of their Medicare reimbursement when the penalties hit, are understandably unhappy with the new program. And a new meta-study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that Medicare may not be fully taking into account several important social factors when it makes its readmissions judgments (John Wasik, 11/5). 

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