KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Sebelius To Highlight Geographic Differences In Medicare Hospital Payments

Minnesota Public Radio: "U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visits Rochester's Mayo Clinic Thursday morning. ... The visit comes after a recent report that Minnesota will receive money earmarked for states which provide low-cost, high-value health care. But just how much money Minnesota will receive is far from certain. Sebelius is expected to get a first-hand look at the clinic's technology for tracking health care information. Last month, Mayo received a $12.3 million stimulus grant as part of a nationwide Health Information Technology Pilot program. But an issue hanging over Sebelius' visit is whether the new health care law does anything to equalize the amount of money Medicare pays to hospitals in different parts of the country. ... As Congress debated the health care overhaul, Mayo Clinic voiced concerns that Medicare's payment system was driving up the cost of health care because hospitals and clinics in some parts of the U.S. were performing many more tests" (Stawicki, 6/3). 

CongressDaily: Meanwhile, Sebelius "urged federal and local leaders and technology experts on Wednesday to use the agency's extensive health data to create tools that would help individuals and health care providers improve choices and hold the government, including Congress, accountable for the nation's health outcomes. … She spoke at the Community Health Data Initiative, a group started by HHS and the Institutes of Medicine, which made public the agency's vast accumulation of data on the national, state, local, and hospital level," including "smoking and obesity rates, access to healthy food, utilization of medical services, and quality of hospital treatments. ... The forum also comes amid a push in Congress to add more transparency to the health system by requiring providers to list the price of their services" (McCarthy, 6/2).

In earlier coverage, Kaiser Health News /The Washington Post report on the rise of Medicare spending in previously thrifty areas (Rau, 5/18).

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