KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 7, 2010

Today's headlines highlight developments regarding the implementation of the new health law as well as health developments from the state level.

Health Reform's Medicaid Expansion, Payment Increase Causes Mixed Feelings For MDs
While doctors are worrying a lot about whether Congress will block the 21 percent scheduled cut in Medicare payments, a fix to another public health program is raising another question (Kaiser Health News).

Health On The Hill - Early Implementation Challenges
Kaiser Health News staff writers Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey talk with KFF's Jackie Judd about what is next for health reform. Obama administration officials have begun the process of implementing health care overhaul legislation the president signed into law last month. Early challenges including creating a high-risk health insurance pool within the next 90 days and writing regulations to allow parents to keep adult children on their health insurance policies until age 26 (Kaiser Health News). Watch the video.

Ala. Dental Spat May Foreshadow Obama Plan Effects
Alone in a meeting room, trustees of the Alabama Dental Association complained about Sarrell Dental Center, a nonprofit corporation that treats thousands of needy children on Medicaid. In a rambling exchange, leaders of the 1,800-member professional organization said they were concerned about Sarrell's quality of care, and they lamented that for-profit dentists face tough business demands. Something needed to be done, they agreed. The comments - made public after Sarrell Dental obtained a transcript of the session - helped blow the lid off a simmering dispute between the nonprofit chain of clinics and Alabama's traditional dentists (The Associated Press).

Sebelius Promises 'Help Desk'
The Obama administration is trying to make the nation's new health care system user-friendly, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday, calling her department a "nationwide health insurance reform help desk" (Politico).

Scam Alert Issued On New Health Care Law
Beware of scam artists taking advantage of the new health insurance law to peddle phony policies, President Barack Obama's top health official warned consumers Tuesday (The Associated Press).

Economic Scene: In Medicine, The Power Of No
How can we learn to say no? The federal government is now starting to build the institutions that will try to reduce the soaring growth of health care costs. There will be a group to compare the effectiveness of different treatments, a so-called Medicare innovation center and a Medicare oversight board that can set payment rates (The New York Times).

Analysis Of California Pensions Finds Half-Trillion-Dollar Gap
An independent analysis of California's three big pension funds has found a hidden shortfall of more than half a trillion dollars, several times the amount reported by the funds and more than six times the value of the state's outstanding bonds (The New York Times).

Insurers Call Halt, Get State Warning
The standoff between Massachusetts regulators and health insurance companies intensified yesterday, as most insurers stopped offering new coverage to small businesses and individuals, and state officials demanded that the insurers post updated rates online and resume offering policies by Friday (The Boston Globe).

AZ, NV To Join Suit Over Federal Health Care Bill
The governors of Arizona and Nevada say their states will join 14 others suing the federal government over health care reform (The Associated Press).

'Let The Violence Begin': Death Threats Against Sen. Patty Murray
A Washington State man was arrested Tuesday on charges that he repeatedly threatened to kill US Senator Patty Murray because of her support of the recently passed healthcare reform law (The Christian Science Monitor).

Man Arrested For Patty Murray Death Threats
A Washington state man was charged Tuesday for threatening to kill Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the latest incident in a string of threats against members of Congress in wake of last month's health care vote (Politico).

Surgery May Not Be The Answer To An Aching Back
Too many complex back surgeries are being done and people are suffering as a result, according to a study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The general tendency noted in the study - that many patients and doctors think more medical care is always better - has implications for the new health overhaul law (NPR).

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