KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: April 27, 2012

Today's headlines include details of a new study finding that, as a result of the health law, consumers and businesses will receive an estimated $1.3 billion in rebates from insurance companies this year. 

Kaiser Health News: Wanted: Mavericks And Missionaries To Solve Mississippi's Doc Shortage
Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Jeffrey Hess, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "When Janie Guice looks at the Mississippi Delta she sees a vast, flat flood plain, home to cotton fields and catfish farms, but she also sees desperate rural health problems and a deep shortage of doctors to deliver primary care to the region's residents" (Hess, 4/26). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Poor, Sick And Expensive: Colorado's Scaled-Down Medicaid Expansion
Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "The state's actually only paying for a small part of those bills. Colorado has an indigent care program that helps charity clinics and hospitals cover bills like Miller's -- but it only pays about ten cents on the dollar. That's starting to change as Colorado is adding people to its rolls for Medicaid, the state and federal health program for the poor and disabled" (Whitney, 4/26). Read the story

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Respite Programs For Family Caregivers Face Cuts Despite Growing Need
Now on the blog, Jessica Marcy writes: "Family caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care needs in the U.S., but many need time away from that job so they can continue to care for their loved ones. Respite can provide short-term relief through several options, including a paid home care worker or providing temporary stays for patients at a residential care facility or adult day care center. Some families pick up the cost of such care out-of-pocket, but many must rely on state and community programs" (4/26). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Obama Healthcare Reforms Lead To $1.3 Billion In Insurance Rebates
U.S. consumers and businesses will receive an estimated $1.3 billion in rebates from insurance companies this year, according to a new study quantifying a key early benefit of the healthcare law that President Obama signed in 2010 (Levey, 4/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers To Pay Rebates
Health insurers are expected to give rebates of more than $1 billion to consumers and employers this year, under a provision of the federal health overhaul that forces them to offer refunds if they don't spend enough of the premium dollars they take in on health care (Mathews, 4/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Report: Consumers And Businesses To Get More Than $1B In Health Insurance Rebates Under Law
The rebates should average $127 for the people who get them, and Democrats are hoping they'll send an election-year message that Obama's much-criticized health care overhaul is starting to pay dividends for consumers. Critics of the law call that wishful thinking (4/26).

The New York Times: Rebates For Some Who Buy Own Health Insurance
Almost a third of people who bought their own health insurance last year will get rebates averaging $127 because of a requirement in the federal health care law, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (Carrns, 4/26).

The New York Times: In Congress, A Move To Look Into  A Medical Debt Collector
A California representative is calling for an investigation into Accretive Health, one of the nation's largest collectors of medical debt, for potentially violating a federal law that requires hospitals to provide emergency care regardless of citizenship, legal status or the ability to pay (Silver-Greenberg, 4/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Boehner Berates Obama's College Visits As Dems, GOP Fight Intensifies Over Student Loans
Their chief remaining dispute is how to pay for the $5.9 billion cost of keeping those rates low. When it comes to that, each side has in effect taken a political hostage: House Republicans would cut spending from Obama's prized health care overhaul law, Senate Democrats would boost payroll taxes on owners of some private corporations and House Democrats would erase federal subsidies to oil and gas companies (4/26).

Los Angeles Times: Pelosi Calls Plan To Gut Public Health Fund Another Assault On Women
As the battle intensifies over keeping student loan interest rates low, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the Republican plan to gut a public health fund to pay for it "another assault on women's health" (Mascaro, 4/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Employers Are Advised On Dropping Health Insurance
Consultants have told some large employers they can save money by dropping health insurance in 2014 and funneling employees into insurance exchanges under the new health-care law, according to a report by congressional Republicans (Radnofsky, 4/26).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Republican Report Blasts Obama's Healthcare Law
Republicans on Thursday issued a politically charged report that quoted President Barack Obama's corporate advisers as predicting his 2010 healthcare overhaul would raise - not lower - the cost of care. The report, released as the Supreme Court weighs the fate of Obama's healthcare law, was compiled by the Republican staff of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee with input from major corporations including General Electric, Southwest Airlines and American Express (Morgan, 4/26).

Los Angeles Times: Molina Healthcare Fights To Keep Growing
Healthcare companies are tripping over themselves to profit from a flood of government contracts for treating the poor and disabled, and a family-run company in Long Beach with nearly $5 billion in revenue is trying to stay ahead of the pack. Amid the growing competition, Molina Healthcare Inc.is facing new hurdles. It has lost two key state contracts in Ohio and Missouri and its shares have tumbled 23% in recent weeks (Terhune, 4/27).

The Wall Street Journal: McKesson To Settle Drug Markup Claims For $190 Million
McKesson Corp. agreed to pay the U.S. government more than $190 million to settle claims it inflated prescription-drug information, causing Medicaid to overpay for certain drugs, the Justice Department said. The government alleges that McKesson, a drug distributor, reported inflated pricing data on a wide variety of brand-name drugs to First DataBank, a publisher of drug prices that are used by most state Medicaid programs to set payment rates for pharmaceuticals. The actions may have violated the False Claims Act, the department said (Rubin, 4/26).

Los Angeles Times: Insider Trading Inquiry Focuses On Medical Devices Deal
Prosecutors probing insider trading in the medical devices industry are investigating a senior Goldman Sachs banker and a former employee of the notorious hedge fund Galleon Group. The investigation, according to a person briefed on the matter, is focused on the 2009 takeover of Advanced Medical Optics in Santa Ana (Reckard, 4/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Cuomo Aims To Salvage Health Pact
Amid an intense lobbying battle between physicians and health insurers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to salvage his landmark overhaul of out-of-network medical charges. The outcome of the policy battle has large implications for health-care consumers who have been hit with unexpected spikes in their medical bills despite assurances from the governor that he had brought "fairness to a broken consumer reimbursement system" (Gershman, 4/26). 

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