Thursday, October 27, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - October 31, 2011

Lawyer Opposing Health Law Is Familiar Face to the Justices

WASHINGTON — It would be hard for any lawyer to fathom a more riveting caseload than the one Paul D. Clement carried during his seven years in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department.
As solicitor general for three years and deputy solicitor for four, Mr. Clement appeared before the Supreme Court 49 times, defended the administration’s detention of terrorism suspects, fought off challenges to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and validated the prosecution of medical marijuana growers in a landmark commerce case.
But if possible, the docket that Mr. Clement has compiled in the private sector as one of Washington’s leading appellate litigators may situate him even closer to the center of national discourse.

Justices to consider health care suits soon

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court could decide as early as Nov. 10 whether to hear a challenge to President Obama’s health care overhaul this term.
Federal appeals court rulings on health care from Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Richmond are on the agenda for the justices’ private conference on Nov. 10.

OCTOBER 27, 2011, 12:53 PM

Spending More Doesn’t Make Us Healthier

Ezekiel J. Emanuel on health policy and other topics.
If you have heard it once, you have heard it hundreds of times. “The United States spends too much on health care.” This is not a partisan point. You can hear this from Republicans as well as Democrats. “We know that our families, our economy and our nation itself will not succeed in the 21st century if we continue to be held down by the weight of rapidly rising health care costs,” President Obama said in 2009. Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, agrees: “There is no serious dispute — on either side of the aisle.”

October 27, 2011

Rise in Medicare Premium Is Lower Than Predicted

WASHINGTON — Monthly Medicare premiums for most beneficiaries will rise next year by $3.50, to $99.90, a much smaller increase than had been expected, the Obama administration said Thursday.
Administration officials rejoiced at the modest increase, which could pay political dividends to President Obama as he tries to win the votes of older Americans in his bid for re-election.

7 More Insurers End Objections on Rate Filings

In a competitive stampede toward transparency in health insurance premiums, seven more large carriers have dropped their objections to the public disclosure of their filings with New York State in support of rate increases.
The seven followed UnitedHealth/Oxford, which this week was the first to formally end a fight to keep the filings secret. Together, the eight insurers have 90 percent of the market of small group and individual insurance plans in the state.

Democrats drive drop in support for healthcare law in new poll

By Noam N. Levey
Washington Bureau
4:01 AM PDT, October 28, 2011,0,5369490,print.story

Public Support Of Health Law Drops Sharply

OCT 28, 2011

Considering When It Might Be Best Not to Know About Cancer

After decades in which cancer screening was promoted as an unmitigated good, as the best — perhaps only — way for people to protect themselves from the ravages of a frightening disease, a pronounced shift is under way.
Now expert groups are proposing less screening for prostate, breast and cervical cancer and have emphasized that screening comes with harms as well as benefits.
Two years ago, the influential United States Preventive Services Task Force, which evaluates evidence and publishes screening guidelines, said that women in their 40s do not appear to benefit frommammograms and that women ages 50 to 74 should consider having them every two years instead of every year.
This year the group said the widely used P.S.A. screening test for prostate cancer does not save lives and causes enormous harm. It also concluded that most women should have Pap tests for cervical cancer every three years instead of every year.
What changed?

Downside of Doctors Who Feel Your Pain

October 28, 2011

Sports Medicine Said to Overuse M.R.I.’s

Dr. James Andrews, a widely known sports medicine orthopedist in Gulf Breeze, Fla., wanted to test his suspicion that M.R.I.’s, the scans given to almost every injured athlete or casual exerciser, might be a bit misleading. So he scanned the shoulders of 31 perfectly healthy professional baseball pitchers.
The pitchers were not injured and had no pain. But the M.R.I.’s found abnormal shoulder cartilage in 90 percent of them and abnormal rotator cuff tendons in 87 percent. “If you want an excuse to operate on a pitcher’s throwing shoulder, just get an M.R.I.,” Dr. Andrewssays.
He and other eminent sports medicine specialists are taking a stand against what they see as the vast overuse of magnetic resonance imaging in their specialty.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - October 24, 2011

Medical help for illegal immigrants could haunt Mitt Romney

On the Republican campaign trail, he derides any such public aid. But the healthcare law he signed as Massachusetts governor allows it.

By Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau
6:17 PM PDT, October 23, 2011

OCTOBER 24, 2011, 4:01 PM

Mammogram’s Role as Savior Is Tested

Stuart Bradford
Has the power of the mammogram been oversold?
At a time when medical experts are rethinking screening guidelines for prostate and cervical cancer, many doctors say it’s also time to set the record straight about mammography screening for breast cancer. While most agree that mammograms have a place in women’s health care, many doctors say widespread “Pink Ribbon” campaigns and patient testimonials have imbued the mammogram with a kind of magic it doesn’t have. Some patients are so committed to annual screenings they even begin to believe that regular mammograms actually prevent breast cancer, said Dr. Susan Love, a prominent women’s health advocate. And women who skip a mammogram often beat themselves up for it.

Extended-care plan’s demise is tough news for boomers

Few Americans able to pay for a health crisis; but financing hobbles new law

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - October 22, 2011

Is medical care a good business?

Posted Oct. 20, 2011, at 4:42 p.m.
For the past several decades, America has been experimenting with applying the principles of business to our health care system. Many believed that by unleashing the power of markets, health care costs would be controlled and access and quality improved.
That experiment has been a spectacular failure. Today, a larger percentage of Americans lack health insurance or are seriously under-insured than at any time since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid 46 years ago. That number is increasing every day.

Some states seek flexibility to push health-care overhaul further

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - October 19, 2011

OCTOBER 18, 2011, 5:17 PM

After Igniting Wall St. Protests, Magazine Proposes One Clear Demand

Three months ago, the Canadian magazine Adbusters called for a protest on Wall Street, providing the spark that began a wildfire of protest across the country and, over the weekend, in an increasing number of cities around the world.
That first call included a poster of a ballerina on the Wall Street bull, and a question: “What is our one demand?”

It Didn’t Add Up

The Obama administration was wise to suspend a long-term care insurance program that was part of its health care reform package. The program, which was to be financed by the premiums paid by enrollees, seemed unlikely to remain financially solvent in coming decades.
Don’t be misled by Republican war whoops proclaiming the demise of this single program as proof that reform is doomed and ought to be repealed. The decision shows a welcome flexibility by the White House that bodes well for carrying out all provisions of the reform law.

U.S. Moves to Cut Back Regulations on Hospitals

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved Tuesday to roll back numerous rules that apply to hospitals and other health care providers after concluding that the standards were obsolete or overly burdensome to the industry.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the proposed changes, which would apply to more than 6,000 hospitals, would save providers nearly $1.1 billion a year without creating any “consequential risks for patients.”

Republican health care law already causing price spikes, fear

Posted Sept. 12, 2011, at 3:28 p.m.
With the summer coming to an end, many of the laws passed by the Maine Legislature will be going into effect this month. One of those laws is the major health insurance overhaul Republicans pushed through a few months ago.
We are already seeing the negative effects of this health insurance overhaul. The Ellsworth American reported recently that some small businesses in rural Maine will be seeing their health insurance costs go up more than 60 percent as early as October.
According to the report, small businesses in Hancock, Washington and Aroostook counties will see insurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle may see an increase of 90 percent.

Health care survey results misrepresented

Posted Sept. 16, 2011, at 1:34 p.m.
The Bangor Daily News’ decision to publish an editorial by Rep. Walter Kumiega on Maine’s new health care law is unfortunate (BDN, Sept. 12). It would be one thing if Kumiega were just misrepresenting the facts. But he is making them up out of whole cloth.
Kumiega sites a poll done by Market Decisions that finds “21 percent of Mainers fear losing their health insurance over the next 12 months, and nearly 40 percent of those individuals said the top reason for their fear was the new health care law passed by Republicans in Augusta.”