First Edition: October 27, 2010
Today's headlines note that the new health law has Democrats playing defense, while Republicans offer few new alternatives to the sweeping measure.
Republican's Controversial Proposal To Mend Medicare
In a companion piece to her story, Some Hill Races Could Hinge On Seniors' Anger Over Medicare, Marilyn Werber Serafini reports that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's ideas including giving Medicare beneficiaries a voucher to buy health coverage and adjusting benefits based on income -- could gain ground if the GOP wins control of the House in November (Kaiser Health News).
Health Care Law Has Democrats On Defense
At the start of their debate here last week, the Republican challenger for Congress, State Senator Robert Hurt, paused only long enough to thank the League of Women Voters before ripping into Representative Tom Perriello for voting for "government-run health care." Mr. Hurt returned to the topic seven times over the next hour, despite being asked only once (The New York Times).
Republicans Offer Few Healthcare Alternatives
As they campaign to recapture Congress, Republicans are vowing to repeal President Obama's new healthcare law and relieve Americans from rising insurance premiums and bigger government (Los Angeles Times).
Elections Put New Focus On Government Spending
Across the country, polls show Republican candidates leading in contested races by campaigning against the Bush administration's bank bailout, Democrats' massive economic stimulus package, President Obama's health-care overhaul and other examples of what the GOP terms "runaway spending." If Republicans take control of the House, as many analysts predict, speaker-in-waiting John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has pledged to roll back agency spending to 2008 levels and stage weekly votes to eliminate unpopular federal programs (The Washington Post).
Acne Cream? Tax-Sheltered. Breast Pump? No.
Denture wearers will get a tax break on the cost of adhesives to keep their false teeth in place. So will acne sufferers who buy pimple creams. But nursing mothers will not be allowed to use their tax-sheltered health care accounts to pay for breast pumps and other supplies. That is because the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to quality as a form of medical care (The New York Times).
It's Not Over: Consumer Groups Still Worried About Insurance Rules
Just last week, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted on tough new rules for insurers that will govern how much they have to pay out in medical care versus overhead and profits. It was a big win for Democrats and consumer groups, who had worried that last-minute pressure from insurers could weaken this aspect of the health law (The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog).
Little-Known AMA Group Has Big Influence On Medicare Payments
The Center for Public Integrity reports: "Early this month, a group of 29 doctors gathered in a modern conference room at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, a few blocks from Lake Shore Drive. Over the course of four days, the little-known group of mostly specialists made a series of decisions crucial to the massive government entitlement program known as Medicare - issuing recommendations for precisely how Medicare should value more than 200 different medical procedures" (Center for Public Integrity/Kaiser Health News).
Physician Panel Prescribes The Fees Paid By Medicare
Three times a year, 29 doctors gather around a table in a hotel meeting room. Their job is an unusual one: divvying up billions of Medicare dollars (The Wall Street Journal).
Dividing The Medicare Pie Pits Doctor Against Doctor
One of the biggest disputes in the Relative Value Scale Update Committee came in 2005, when members clashed over primary-care groups' push for increases in the payments for doctor office visits, which are among the most commonly-billed Medicare services (The Wall Street Journal).
Mentally Troubled Youths Turned Away
Children who are hallucinating, feeling suicidal, or suffering other acute mental health problems are increasingly being turned away from some Massachusetts hospitals' psychiatric wards, a problem the hospital industry acknowledges and blames on insufficient insurance payments to cover treatment of such sick children (The Boston Globe).
Glaxo To Pay $750 Million For Sale Of Bad Products
GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints that the company for years knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant - the latest in a growing number of whistle-blower lawsuits that drug makers have settled with multimillion-dollar fines (The New York Times).
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