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Today’s Headlines – August 18, 2011

Good morning! Here’s today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about a new HHS proposed rule that would help consumers do comparison shopping for health plans.

The New York Times: Obama To Press Committee On Jobs As for deficit reduction, Mr. Obama suggested that he would call in his speech for the bipartisan 12-member Congressional committee that was created by his debt-reduction deal with Republicans this month to be more ambitious about deficit-reduction than its formal charge requires — including tax increases on the wealthy, which Republicans oppose. … “We’ll have more spending cuts than we have revenue,” he said, after expressing concern that Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio had named Republicans to the panel who oppose any tax increases. “But we’re going to have to take a balanced approach,” Mr. Obama said, without “drastic cuts” in Medicare and Medicaid — though he made clear that changes to those fast-growing programs must be on the table (Calmes, 8/17).

The Washington Post: New Health Insurance Rules Would Let Consumers Compare Plans In ‘Plain English’ What would your health insurance cover if you got pregnant? How much could you expect to pay out of pocket if you needed treatment for diabetes? How do your plan’s benefits compare with another company’s? Starting as soon as March, consumers could have a better handle on such questions, under new rules aimed at decoding the fine print of health insurance plans (Aizenman, 8/17).

For more headlines …

The New York Times: Proposal Would Aid Deciphering Of Benefits The Obama administration proposed new rules on Wednesday that would require health insurance companies and employers to provide information to policyholders and employees describing health benefits, coverage and costs in plain English (Pear, 8/17).

USA Today: Rules Would Require Clear Health Insurance Info Insurers would have to provide cost information to consumers who requested it before they bought health insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The proposed changes are part of the new federal health care law (Kennedy, 8/17).

The New York Times: Cuts In Health Care May Undermine Role In Labor Market Even during months of stubborn unemployment, the health care industry has provided a solid underpinning, reliably adding jobs in an otherwise dismal environment. … While few experts can predict how the stock market’s gyrations and government cutbacks this month will affect the health industry, several health industry analysts warn that the sector is showing signs of economic sluggishness that has long kept other business sectors beleaguered (Abelson and Thomas, 8/17).

The Wall Street Journal: Perry Says Vaccine Order Was Mistake Texas Gov. Rick Perry, under questioning from voters in recent days, has switched positions on a 2007 executive order he issued mandating the vaccination of all young girls before they enter sixth grade to ward off cervical cancer. Mr. Perry’s order that Texas school girls receive the vaccine, Gardasil, made by Merck & Co., was overturned by the state legislature and never got off the ground. But it still has roiled conservatives and Christian groups for years (Mundy, 8/18).

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog: New Study Measures Doctors’ Malpractice Risks In a report that cuts to the heart of the tort-reform debate, the New England Journal of Medicine has released this study that attempts to measure the economic and emotional impact of medical malpractice cases on doctors. The thrust of the findings: malpractice cases are common but rarely successful (Koppel, 8/17).

The New York Times: New York Moves To Crack Down On Abuse Of Disabled The agreement covers the 126,000 developmentally disabled people who live in state and privately run group homes and institutions or who receive a variety of other services from the state. The plan has the potential to reshape how the state approaches enforcement against abuse of the developmentally disabled, though it remains to be seen how it is carried out and what force it has (Hakim, 8/17).

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