Monday, February 28, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - March 1, 2011

February 28, 2011

Obama Supports Easing Health Law Mandates for States

WASHINGTON — Seeking to appease disgruntled governors, President Obama announced Monday that he supported amending the 2010 health care law to allow states to opt out of its most burdensome requirements three years earlier than currently permitted.

Obama Endorses Plan to Let States Opt Out of U.S. Health Law

U.S. President Barack Obama said he supports a plan to let states opt out of the health-care law to set up their own systems starting in 2014 that provide benefits and coverage equivalent to federal law.
Obama, speaking today at the White House to the nation’s governors, said states can apply for waivers under the law to try their own hands at meeting the goals of the overhaul he pushed through Congress. The law has a provision that lets states set up their own programs in 2017.

Obama's Flexibility Pledge on Health Care Gets Mixed Reaction in Maine
02/28/2011   Reported By: Josie Huang

Today, President Obama met with a roomful of governors, many of whom are critical of the health care law championed by his administration--governors such as Gov. Paul LePage, who supported Maine joining a legal challenge of a mandate that nearly everybody carry health coverage. Obama said he understood states want more flexibility in implementing the Affordable Care Act, and said that he would support their efforts to find alternatives to mandates by 2014, when the law takes effect. In Maine, health care advocates praised the move, saying it will allow states to tailor the federal law to their needs. But the law's critics say it accomplishes little.

Obama backs Brownеs bill tempering health care rule

WASHINGTON б President Obama said yesterday he is willing to relax the new health care lawеs requirement that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance starting in 2014, but only in states that can show they have an alternative plan to gain near-universal coverage.
Displaying his willingness to compromise on one of the most controversial aspects of the overhaul, the presidentеs move appeared on its face to give states far more freedom to shape the law to their own needs. Obama was endorsing a concept that has been proposed by Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, in a bipartisan bill filed with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon.
But conservative critics of the president said that a variety of other requirements in the law also should be eliminated, and they said the presidentеs announcement, made in an address to the nationеs governors, could prove to be an empty gesture.

By The Numbers: Health Inequalities From Economics And Race

Don't Buy Insurance Industry's "Objective Analysis"

Connecticut residents who believe their state should be the first in the nation to set up a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers should brace themselves for what will be a beautifully packaged, seemingly well-researched study from the insurance industry to convince them otherwise.

February 28, 2011

Bronx-Lebanon Obstetricians Face Malpractice Insurance Cutoff

A malpractice insurance group has warned obstetricians at a South Bronx hospital that it is considering cutting off their insurance, which could force surrounding hospitals to absorb hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of baby deliveries a year.

FEBRUARY 28, 2011, 9:15 PM

A Housecall to Help With Doctor’s Orders

Fixes looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.
Ozier Muhammad/The New York TimesReynaldo Rodriguez of the Care Coordination program counseled a patient with H.I.V. on how to adhere to a drug regimen.
Doctors are very good at telling us what to do — but we are very poor at doing it. In fact, the health problems of millions of Americans are directly related to our failure to follow doctors’ orders.


Defined Contribution Health Care—The Conservatives' Silver Bullet

Conservatives are in a full court press these days telling us the answer to America’s out-of-control health care costs—and our fiscal crisis—is to move Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code subsidy for private insurance to a defined contribution system.

February 28, 2011

18 Stethoscopes, 1 Heart Murmur and Many Missed Connections

BOSTON — One by one, the medical students bent down to listen to my heart.
There were six of them, led by a bright-eyed physician with a charming Irish accent — so charming I almost didn’t care that he never called me by name. All told, 18 second-year Harvard medical students would listen to me on this darkening winter afternoon, each group of six overseen by a different cardiologist.
“Place the diaphragm of your stethoscope here,” the Irish doctor was saying. “Start at the base of the heart and move down to the apex.”
He listened quietly. “Ma’am, take a breath in, and breathe out and hold it.”
I felt like an oddly invisible prop: part artist’s model, part one-night stand, heard but not seen. At first nobody made eye contact or spoke to me, a situation that evoked the universal vulnerability of patients: exposed, invisible, dehumanized.

LePage sees chance to win flexibility to cut Medicaid

President Obama says he is willing to work with states to allow tighter restrictions in order to trim costs.

By Jonathan
MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON — Gov. Paul LePage said Monday he is "cautiously optimistic" that the Obama administration might allow Maine to place new restrictions onMedicaid eligibility and spending.

LePage and other governors met Monday at the White House with President Obama on the final day of the National Governors Association winter meeting here.
Obama told the governors he is willing to work with states on allowing more flexibility over how to run Medicaid, a state-federal health care program for the poor that is known as MaineCare in Maine, under the terms of the new health care reform law.
LePage said the state may be "making some headway" when it comes to being allowed to drop some adults from the MaineCare rolls and spend less money on other adults.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - February 28, 2011

My Turn: Health reform debate must start with human rights principles

For thousands of Vermonters, health care reform is not an abstract policy debate ("Debate single-payer must start with the facts" Jan. 23). Instead, across the state, Vermonters are organizing and mobilizing because they are faced with a choice between health or suffering, dignity or abuse, sound family finances or bankruptcy, and even life or death. They pay for the failures of a market-based system with their health -- physical and financial.

February 25, 2011

The War on Women

Republicans in the House of Representatives are mounting an assault on women’s health and freedom that would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of newborn babies in struggling families. And this is just the beginning.
The budget bill pushed through the House last Saturday included the defunding of Planned Parenthood and myriad other cuts detrimental to women. It’s not likely to pass unchanged, but the urge to compromise may take a toll on these programs. And once the current skirmishing is over, House Republicans are likely to use any legislative vehicle at hand to continue the attack.

February 25, 2011

Amid Cuomo’s Medicaid Cuts, Health Care Workers’ Union Shapes a Victory

In Wisconsin, public workers face a nearly unprecedented rollback of collective-bargaining rights. In New Jersey, teachers and their unions find themselves the target of open ridicule from Gov. Chris Christie, who is seeking major increases in how much the state’s public employees pay for their pensions and health care. And in Connecticut, state workers are being pressured to accept a wage freeze, more furlough days and a higher retirement age.
Yet in New York, where a fiscal crisis has helped put the state’s powerful government employee and teachers’ unions on the defensive, New York’s influential health care workers’ union appears on the verge of wringing significant victories out of Gov.Andrew M. Cuomo’s austerity budget, even as he nears potentially historic cuts in spending.

Gov. LePage urges federal flexibility to enable states to solve financial problems

February 27, 2011

Prostate Guideline Causes Many Needless Biopsies, Study Says

Current guidelines for the early detection of prostate cancer recommend a biopsy for men whose P.S.A. rises rapidly, no matter what the initial level. But a new study says that the practice does not help patients find aggressive cancers and that it results in many unnecessary biopsies.

February 27, 2011

When Health Insurance Isn’t for Sale

To the Editor:

Patrick gives Romney praise he may not want

Lauds his role in health overhaul

February 26, 2011

Treat the Patient, Not the CT Scan

Palo Alto, Calif.
THE other day as I walked through a wing of my hospital, it occurred to me that Watson, I.B.M.’s supercomputer, would be more at home here than he was on “Jeopardy!” Perhaps it’s good, I thought, that his next challenge, with the aid of the Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will be to learn to diagnose illnesses and treat patients.

February 26, 2011

Carrots, Sticks and Digital Health Records

THE United States is embarking this year on a grand experiment in the government-driven adoption of technology — ambitious, costly and potentially far-reaching in impact. The goal is to improve health care and to reduce its long-term expense by moving the doctors and hospitals from ink and paper into the computer age — through a shift to digital patient records.
Step back from the details and what emerges is a huge challenge in innovation design. What role should government have? What is the right mix of top-down and bottom-up efforts? Driving change through the system will involve shifts in technology, economic incentives and the culture of health care.
“This is a big social project, not just a technical endeavor,” says Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration’s national coordinator for health information technology.

February 25, 2011

It Gets Worse


The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age
By Susan Jacoby
332 pp. Pantheon Books. $27.95.

Susan Jacoby has long made it her project to uncover ill-formed, cynical “junk thought” and administer a cold dose of reason and logic against it. But Jacoby is no Mr. Spock. Her rationalism is delivered in an angry barrage peppered with enthusiastically snide asides. In previous books, including “The Age of American Unreason” and “Freethinkers,” her targets have been right-leaning religionists, social Darwinists, and the paucity of reason in a generation that stares too much at glowing screens and too little at learned books. In her latest jeremiad, “Never Say Die,” she fights to slay the conspiracies of ignorance and greed that she believes conceal a single, and indeed irrefutable, truth: extreme old age can be nasty, brutish and long.

GOP-led states pursue dual strategy on health care

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post / February 28, 2011

Obama's 'risky move' in Florida
By: David Nather
February 27, 2011 06:26 PM EST
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has already dealt the Obama administration a staggering blow on health reform, and this week the administration may get another one from the fiery Florida judge.
The Justice Department asked Vinson to clarify his ruling that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Justice must file its brief on the motion by Monday, and Vinson has said he would rule quickly after that. At issue is whether Vinson meant to stop reform implementation in the 26 states that brought the suit.