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Today’s Headlines – May 22, 2012

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: No Confirmation Hearing Planned For Marilyn Tavenner
Senate Democrats have said they aren’t planning a confirmation hearing for Marilyn Tavenner, the acting top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ending months of speculation over whether they would try to get the agency its first permanent leader since 2006 (Radnofsky, 5/21).

Politico: Few States Set For Health Exchanges
When health insurance exchanges open in 2014, it is now clear that the federal government will be playing the lead, not the understudy. Many insurance experts and health policy consultants predict only a dozen or so states will be ready to run exchanges on their own — and a few say that projection may be too sunny (Feder and Millman, 5/21).

For more headlines …

The New York Times: More Care Up Front For $54 A Month
Direct primary care derives from an unlikely source: the so-called concierge practices that began appearing a decade ago, catering primarily to the affluent. Concierge practices generally do not accept insurance, either; instead, members are charged thousands of dollars annually for unlimited access to their doctors (Japsen, 5/21).

Los Angeles Times: HealthCare Partners to Be Bought By DaVita In $4.42 Billion Deal
HealthCare Partners, the Torrance owner of physician groups in Southern California, Nevada and Florida, agreed to be acquired in a $4.42-billion deal by dialysis chain DaVita Inc., as large healthcare companies continue snapping up doctor groups and clinics. … Nationally, much of the merger activity stems from Medicare, which is moving away from fee-for-service payments that encourage volume rather than quality care or efficiency. Instead, Medicare is adopting new payment methods that reward medical providers that keep patients healthy and curb excessive spending. If those so-called accountable-care organizations succeed at managing their pool of patients, Medicare allows them to share in the savings and boost their profits (5/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Dialysis Firm Bets On Branching Out
In striking the deal, DaVita is wagering that American health care is changing significantly—moving away from a fragmented world in which individual doctors and hospitals get fees for each service, and toward large integrated providers that coordinate all patients’ medical needs and get paid in ways that reward quality and efficiency. HealthCare Partners gets much of its payment in so-called capitated flat fees that are supposed to cover nearly all of a patient’s care, an arrangement that puts a provider at risk of losing money if the person requires many pricey services (Mathews and Athavaley, 5/21).

The New York Times: A Long View On Health Care: Think Like An Investor
Could health care costs be reined in by improving access to preventive care? It’s an idea that appeals to policy makers and many public health experts, but the evidence for it is surprisingly hard to pin down. … We put some of these questions to Dana Goldman, director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California and founding editor of the Forum for Health Economics and Policy. What follows is an edited version of our conversation (Kolata, 5/21).

Los Angeles Times: Catholic Institutions Sue Over Contraceptive Rule
The battle between the Obama administration and some prominent Catholic institutions intensified Monday when 43 Catholic groups,  including the archdioceses of Washington, D.C., and New York,  and Notre Dame and Catholic universities, filed suit across the country challenging a federal mandate requiring them to provide contraception to their employees (Duncan, 5/21).

NPR Shots Blog: Catholic Groups Sue Obama Administration Over Birth Control Rule
So much for compromise. A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration’s rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom (Rovner, 5/21).

The New York Times: Catholics File Suits On Contraceptive Coverage
In an effort to show a unified front in their campaign against the birth control mandate, 43 Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, social service agencies and other institutions filed lawsuits in 12 federal courts on Monday, challenging the Obama administration’s rule that their employees receive coverage for contraception in their health insurance policies (Goodstein, 5/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Catholics Sue Over Health Mandate
The University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and 41 other Roman Catholic institutions sued the Obama administration in federal court Monday, the latest push against a requirement in the health-care-overhaul law that employers cover contraception in workers’ health plans (Radnofsky, 5/21).

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Dioceses, Other Catholic Groups Sue Over White House Insurance Mandate
The Roman Catholic dioceses of Springfield and Joliet have joined 41 other religious institutions filing simultaneous lawsuits that challenge the Obama administration’s mandate that many religious employers have their health insurance cover the cost of birth control for employees. Catholic Charities programs in both dioceses also filed simultaneous lawsuits in U.S. District Court on Monday (Brachear, 5/22).

Politico: Notre Dame, Other Groups File New Lawsuits Against Contraception Rule
The groups say the administration’s policy is a violation of their right to freedom of religion. The Obama administration has said it would give religious-affiliated institutions, such as Notre Dame, a one-year reprieve from the policy, which goes into effect Aug. 1. During that time, the administration has said it would work on a compromise. But the plaintiffs say that there is no way to compromise on the matter and that the administration has not yet delivered any new policy (Haberkorn, 5/21).

The Washington Post: Government Task Force Discourages Routine Testing For Prostate Cancer
Men should no longer receive a routine blood test to check for prostate cancer because the test does more harm than good, a top-level government task force has concluded in a final recommendation that immediately became controversial (Vastag, 5/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Men Should Skep Common Prostate Test, Panel Says
The recommendations can influence coverage decisions by Medicare and other insurers, though under current law, Medicare must cover annual PSA testing (Dooren, 5/21).

Los Angeles Times: PSA Test For Prostate Cancer Should Be Dropped, Task Force Says
The PSA test should be abandoned as a prostate cancer screening tool, a government advisory panel has concluded after determining that the side effects from needless biopsies and treatments hurt many more men than are potentially helped by early detection of cancers. At best, one life will be saved for every 1,000 men screened over a 10-year period, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. But 100 to 120 men will have suspicious results when there is no cancer, triggering biopsies that can carry complications such as pain, fever, bleeding, infection and hospitalization (Mestel, 5/22).

NPR Shots Blog: All Routine PSA Tests For Prostate Cancer Should End, Task Force Says
There they go again — those 17 federally appointed experts at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are telling American doctors and patients to stop routinely doing lifesaving tests. Or at least that’s the way some people look at the task force’s latest guidelines on prostate cancer screening, which say doctors should stop doing routine PSA tests on men of any age (Knox, 5/21).