Monday, May 16, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 16, 2011

May 15, 2011

Rhode Island’s Medicaid Experiment Becomes a Talking Point for Budget Cutters

With Republicans pushing to rein in Medicaid costs, an experiment in Rhode Island is drawing the attention of some conservatives who say it has led to substantial savings without reducing care for the state’s poorest patients.
The experiment is the closest to an example of the kinds of changes that Republicans say they want to make — limiting federal spending for Medicaid while giving states more freedom to decide what benefits to offer and how to control the costs.

May 15, 2011

Gingrich Calls G.O.P.’s Medicare Plan Too Radical

WASHINGTON — Days after formally announcing his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich on Sunday sharply criticized a plan by House Republicans that would drastically overhaul Medicare, the federal health care program for retirees.
Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who led a conservative resurgence in the 1990s, said the Republican Medicare plan was “too big a jump” for Americans and compared it to the health care overhaul championed by President Obama.

MAY 16, 2011, 12:03 PM

Gingrich Seeks to Clarify Comments on Individual Mandate

Newt Gingrich has acknowledged that his tendency to spout off like a political analyst might get him into trouble on the campaign trail.
On Monday, Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, sought to explain away just that kind of Sunday-morning pontification, in which he blasted the budget by his Republican colleagues in Congress and endorsed an individual mandate for health insurance.

Gingrich Was For Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan Before He Was Against It

During an appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, 2012 presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) called Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal to transform Medicare into a “premium support” system for future retirees “too big a jump” and suggested that the reform was tantamount to “right-wing social engineering.”

May 15, 2011

Nursing Homes Seek Exemptions From Health Law

WASHINGTON — It is an oddity of American health care: Many nursing homes and home care agencies do not provide health insurance to their workers, or they pay wages so low that employees cannot afford the coverage that is offered.
The numbers are stark. Among workers who provide hands-on care to nursing home residents, one in four has no health insurance. Among those who provide care to people living at home, one in three is uninsured.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 14, 2011

May 13, 2011

Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care

The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week,Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Patrick says Romney plays both sides on health care

By Robert Weisman
Globe Staff / May 14, 2011
WALTHAM — Governor Deval Patrick, calling for tougher measures to control health care costs in Massachusetts, says Mitt Romney was playing politics in a Thursday speech in which the former governor stood by his role in crafting the state’s 2006 health care overhaul law while deriding President Obama’s national effort to expand health care coverage.

Providers, insurers are warned on fees

By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff / May 14, 2011
Last week, state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan fired off a letter to Governor Deval Patrick, saying he is worried that hospitals and doctors are trying to lock in fee increases from insurers now, before the Legislature passes a new law to control medical costs.

THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011

The Lightweight Romney Health Plan

Mitt Romney has outlined his new health plan. He outlined five key steps in an op-ed in USAToday. Here is a summary:

Hard feelings on health bill lead to letter of resignation

Forced to hold a late-night vote, Republican Rep. Pat Flood shows his frustration with L.D. 1333.

By Rebekah
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA – Acrimony from Thursday night's partisan rift over a Republican-sponsored plan to overhaul health insurance in Maine continued Friday as a co-chairman of the Legislature's powerful budget-writing committee tried to resign his post.

Rep. Pat Flood, R-Winthrop, House chairman of the Appropriations Committee, delivered a letter of resignation from his post to House Speaker Robert Nutting on Friday afternoon.
Nutting, R-Oakland, said Flood was upset by the hard feelings among committee members after they were convened late at night and exempted L.D. 1333, the controversial health insurance measure, from the committee's usual scrutiny.
"There was discussion in the Appropriations Committee last evening where things were said," Nutting said late Friday. "There were a lot of hard feelings all around."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 13, 2011

Romney Says Obama’s Health Care Law Should Be Repealed

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mitt Romney came to Michigan on Thursday to tackle the single biggest liability in the early stages of his Republican presidential bid — the health care overhaul he enacted as the Massachusetts governor five years ago — by calling for a repeal of the national health care law President Obama signed last year.

Reforms Prod Insurers to Diversify

Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2011
Major U.S. health insurers, including Aetna Inc., Humana Inc. and WellPoint Inc., are retooling to become more than just health plans, in the wake of the federal health-care overhaul that is changing the rules for the industry's core business.
Diversification plans, touted in meetings with investors this year, include stepped up acquisitions and partnerships that will allow the companies to employ doctors directly, deliver health-information technologies, and participate in new hospital-doctor groups known as accountable-care organizations.

Romney says he stands by Mass. law

Offers a plan enabling states on health care

Medicare could run out of money sooner than previously predicted

Medicare's largest trust fund would run out of money in 2024 without action to shore it up, the government predicts.

MAY 13, 2011, 6:00 AM

Would Privatizing Medicare Lead to Better Cost Controls?

Uwe E. Reinhardt is an economics professor at Princeton. He has some financial interests in the health care field.
The annual Milliman Medical Index, released earlier this week by Milliman Inc., the Seattle-based employee-benefit consulting and actuarial company, is illuminating, and I highly recommend it. The index is particularly timely as the nation considers proposals to reduce sharply the role of the federal government in financing health care, along the lines proposed by Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The index measures the total cost of health care for a typical American family of four covered by a preferred provider plan, widely known as a P.P.O.The index’s great virtue is that it includes not only the employer’s and employee’s contributions to the premium for P.P.O. coverage but also the out-of-pocket expenses the family has under the plan.
Employers can control the growth of health insurance premiums by shifting more and more of the cost from the insurance policy to the family’s budget, through higher deductibles and coinsurance or by excluding benefits from coverage that had previously been covered.
Thus, the index provides a more accurate picture of the actual burden of health spending for a typical American family than does just the premium for P.P.O. coverage.

Insurance reform bill headed for approval

The Senate prepares for a final vote to add free-market provisions after Democrats accuse the GOP of rushing the changes through the Legislature.

By Tom 
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA - The Maine Senate was poised late Thursday to pass a bill that would achieve a longtime goal of Republicans: inject free-market reforms into the state's health insurance market and dismantle regulations that were largely established by Democrats over the last 20 years.

Posted: May 13
Updated: Today at 1:24 PM

Our View: LePage's MaineCare cuts go too deep

Balancing a budget on the backs of people in need is not responsible government.

Gov. LePage ran on a promise to reform welfare and end a culture of dependency among people who receive state services. If he has a plan to do that, we haven't seen it.

House chairman gives resignation after health insurance fracas

Posted May 13, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers were assessing the political damage Friday from a late-night blowup over health care reform that prompted the Republican chairman of the powerful budget committee to submit his resignation and has left Democrats fuming.
Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland,  hours after a contentious meeting in which Democrats accused GOP leaders of attempting to ramrod a major policy issue through the Legislature and warned that the political moves could endanger the entire budget-writing process.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 12, 2011

Paul: 'Right to health care' is slavery
By: Kate Nocera
May 11, 2011 03:30 PM EDT
A hearing of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging looked at emergency room use and took an odd turn Wednesday when Sen. Rand Paul compared the “right to health care” to slavery.
“With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery,” said Paul (R-Ky.), who is an ophthalmologist.

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s main idea for getting quality health care at less cost was in jeopardy after key medical providers yesterday called his administration’s initial blueprint so complex it is unworkable.

Health-care lawsuits: Delaying the inevitable

By E.J. Dionne Jr.Published: May 11

As if our political system were not having enough trouble already, we now confront the possibility that a highly partisan judiciary will undo a modest health-care reform that is a first step toward resolving a slew of other difficulties.

History lessons for Obama and other liberals

Outside the venue where Rep. Paul Ryan recently spoke in Madison, Wis., a university town never lacking protesters, one product of America’s education system shouted that Ryan’s budget proposalwould return America to the bad old days of the “18th-century robber barons.” The young man, full of zeal and destitute of information, does not know that those capitalists of whom he disapproves — the ones who built the railroads and other sinews of the nation’s industrial might — operated in the second half of the 19th century, not in 18th-century agrarian America.

Massachusetts health reform a double-edged sword for Romney

The state has 'nearly universal pride' over the universal coverage Mitt Romney signed into law as governor. But the achievement has emerged as his biggest obstacle to securing the 2012 Republican nomination for president.

By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times
5:46 PM PDT, May 11, 2011

Senate amends, OKs insurance market overhaul

Party leaders come to a compromise on several issues and approve the bill, which goes back to the House for a vote today.

By Tom Bell 
MaineToday Media State House Writer
AUGUSTA - The Maine Senate on Wednesday night approved an overhaul of the state's health insurance market, passing a bill that was amended to win some Democratic support.

Senate amends health care bill, sends it back to House

Posted May 11, 2011, at 8:36 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine —The Maine Senate on Wednesday night gave approval to a Republican-backed health care overhaul bill, despite Democratic pleas for more time to study and refine it.
“The people of Maine are depending on us to do something,” Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, said during a debate that lasted nearly four hours. The 24-10 vote was largely along party lines, as it was in previous House votes in favor of the bill. The bill now goes back to the House, where lawmakers will consider two amendments added in the Senate that helped Republicans pick up a few additional Democratic votes.

Frosh taste own Medicare medicine
By: Marin Cogan
May 11, 2011 08:30 PM EDT
Politicians usually don’t begin press conferences with an admission of guilt.
But that’s exactly what happened Wednesday, when freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) called on the president to condemn the scare tactics Democrats have used against Republicans on Medicare — the same type of attacks Republicans used against Democrats throughout the 2010 campaign that helped put many of the GOP freshmen in office.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 11, 2011

May 10, 2011

Hip Makers Told to Study More Data

In an unusual move, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered all producers of a popular category of artificial hip to undertake studies of the implants, which have been linked to high early failure rates and severe health effects in some patients.
Under the order, producers of “metal-on-metal” hips will have to conduct studies of patients who received the device to determine, among other things, whether the implants are shedding high levels of metallic debris. Some patients have encountered that problem, including soft tissue damage that has disabled them.

May 10, 2011

Critics Fear G.O.P.’s Proposed Medicaid Changes Could Cut Coverage for the Aged

WASHINGTON — As Republicans inch away from their plan to reshape the nation’s Medicare program, their equally transformative ideas for Medicaid, now largely in the shadows of the budget debate, are moving front and center.
While the largest number of Medicaid recipients are low-income children and adults, who tend to be far less politically potent voices in battles over entitlement programs than older voters, the changes to Medicaid proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House budget chairman, could actually have a more direct impact on older Americans than the Medicare part of his plan.

Romney to offer health proposal

Seeks to move past state law criticism

Simpler heart treatment ignored

Despite research, angioplasty still used before drugs

Insurance bill deal elusive as key vote nears

Senators reject an actuarial study of the overhaul, but delay the start of debate to get questions answered.

By Tom 
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA — Negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders Tuesday over a GOP plan to overhaul Maine's health insurance system failed to produce a compromise, so the partisan battle is expected to continue today on the floor of the Senate.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Single Payer Healthcare Legislation

By Reader Supported News
11 May 11

 national doctors' group welcomed the introduction in the Senate today of a single-payer health reform bill that it said moves in the direction of providing comprehensive care to everyone, reducing wasteful paperwork, reining in health costs, and delivering better medical outcomes.