KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Cutting Mass. Cities’ Health Costs; Seeking Federal Rules On Needle Exchanges; Small Business Concerns With Health Overhaul

Legislature Cuts Programs, But Won't Crack Down On Excesses The Boston Globe
The new [Massachusetts] state budget will cut local aid and other programs, further deplete the dwindling rainy day fund, and yield perhaps 1,000 or more layoffs. What the bill won't do is give cities and towns the power to make cost-cutting changes in their employee health care plans, a power that both the state and most private employers have (7/6).

Back To The Future: CBO Budget Predictions And Health Reform Kaiser Health News
The occasion for this latest round of debate is a new report by the Congressional Budget Office -- one that predicts what the entire federal budget will look like several decades into the future. Critics of health care reform say the report backs up what they've been saying all along -- that, because of reform, tomorrow's budget deficits will be even worse than they are today. But CBO's conclusion was a lot more complicated and at least a little more encouraging (Jonathan Cohn, 7/6).

Sensible Rules, Soon The New York Times
President Obama did the right thing in December when he repealed the 21-year-old ban on federal financing for programs that give drug users access to clean needles. Almost nothing has happened since because the Department of Health and Human Services still has not issued the new rules that states and localities need before they can use any federal money to expand existing exchange programs or start new ones (7/2).

NY's Hospital Sickness The New York Post
When it comes to corruption, it typically takes two to tango. Thus, it's gratifying to learn that, months after former Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio was locked up for influence-peddling, one of the organizations that enabled him is attracting the attention of prosecutors. And it's certainly no surprise that said target is a behemoth of New York's tax-gorged health-care cartel (7/6).

Health-Care Law Passed, But For Small Businesses, The Battle Is Not Over The Washington Post
Just a few months ago, President Obama signed the health-care bill into law amid much fanfare. But we're hearing a different tune from small-business owners. They're asking: How much is this going to cost me, how can I opt out, isn't there any way to stop this from taking effect? (Karen Harned, 7/5).

Getting Insurers Out From Between Patients And Doctors The Baltimore Sun
Insurers' tactics are designed to deny patients access to care. Insurers create these barriers to access under the guise of cost control. In reality, this is not a controlling of costs but a shifting of costs within the system, and it actually increases the overall cost of health care to society (Gene Ransom III, 7/6).

Evolution Of Politics Around Health Care Has Been Breathtaking The Seattle Times
On March 23, after a decades-long congressional battle, a new federal commitment to ensuring health-care access was signed into law. For many it was a triumphant moment. Yet just two months later, on May 28, the House stripped $24 billion in promised Medicaid funding out of a federal jobs bill. … Thus, in a year in which a landmark new bill was signed, observers, based on neglected 35-year-old obligations, might be forgiven for asking if there's really any federal health-care policy (Brendan Williams, 7/4).

Doctors Can't Take 21% Cut From Medicare The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal
Tell your representatives in Congress not to support this 21 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. Tell them to stop kicking the can down the road, before senior citizens like Aunt Mildred and Uncle Fred kick the bucket without their trusted doctor by their side (Marilyn Loeffel, 7/6).

Mending Medicaid The Chicago Tribune
The biggest expense of government in Illinois - and arguably the easiest for scamsters to game - is the $14 billion that state and federal agencies spend here on Medicaid. Analyzing where that money goes should soon get much easier (7/5).

The Health Care Shift – Federal Money For The Taking The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune
As a community of health care providers, we are disappointed with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's decision to forgo $1.48 billion in federal dollars for Minnesota and his failure to provide 100,000 Minnesotans with better health care (Robert Meiches and Lawrence Massa, 7/5).

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