KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: February 27, 2012

Among today's health policy headlines, a new Politico poll highlights the deep divide in public opinion that exists regarding the repeal of the health law.

Kaiser Health News: Five Questions About The Health Law's Mandate To Cover Birth Control
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby writes: "While controversy over one aspect of the Obama administration's contraception rule – whether and when religiously affiliated employers must comply – has dominated recent headlines, that debate has obscured other questions about how the rules will actually be implemented" (Appleby, 2/27).

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: I Was Billed, But Aren't Colonoscopies Free Under The Health Law? (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question from a reader who had a colonoscopy and was billed a 30 percent co-pay. The reader asks: Aren't preventive services like that free under the health law? (2/27).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Capsules: By The Numbers: Wisconsin’s High Risk Pool
Wisconsin Public Radio's Shamane Mills, reporting in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, writes on the blog: "This week the federal government touted the number of people who have enrolled in the high risk insurance pools created in every state. After a slow start, some 50,000 people with serious illnesses nationwide have signed up for the insurance plans created by the federal health law" (Mills, 2/27). Check out what else is on the blog.

Kaiser Health News also tracked health policy headlines over the weekend, including reports that abortion and contraception politics are still on the front burner of the GOP presidential primary campaign and Romney’s position on raising the Medicare age to 67

The New York Times: A Measure Of Change: Obama's Deficit Dilemma
Yet starting with that April speech, Mr. Obama has come to adopt most of the major tenets supported by a majority of the commission's members, though his proposals do not go as far. He has called for cutting deficits more than $4 trillion over 10 years by shaving all spending, including for the military, Medicare and Social Security; overhauling the tax code to raise revenues and lower rates; and writing rules to lock in savings (Calmes, 2/27).

The New York Times: Many States Take A Wait-And-See Approach On New Insurance Exchanges
States are lagging in the creation of health insurance exchanges, the supermarkets where millions of consumers are supposed to buy subsidized private coverage under President Obama's health care overhaul (Pear, 2/27).

The Washington Post: Governors Split Over Effects Of Obama's Health-Care Law
Republicans and Democrats, as expected, disagree heartily about whether the health-care reform law is worth its benefits to state residents — or creates more harm by overburdening state budgets. Both Walker and Quinn are members of the National Governors Association's health committee , which met Sunday morning in a downtown Washington hotel with the goal of recommending ideas to cut states' health-care costs for needy residents (Leonnig, 2/26).

Politico: Poll: Sharp Split On Health Care Repeal
Americans are deeply divided over whether a Republican president should repeal President Barack Obama's health care law if elected this November, a new poll Monday shows, although the vast majority of those surveyed believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Gallup found that 47 percent of Americans want a GOP president to repeal the law, while 44 percent oppose that (Mak, 2/27).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare History: How The Patchwork Coverage Came To Be
Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do (Rosenblatt, 2/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Cuts Rile Doctors
A plan by Washington state's Medicaid agency to stop paying for certain emergency-room visits is prompting pushback from hospitals and doctors, who say they will be stuck with bills for vital care they often are legally required to provide (Mathews, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Offers Medicare Plan
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney unveiled a plan Friday to increase the Medicare eligibility age and laid out a time line under which the government would offer a new private option for care. Mr. Romney has said he would offer seniors a choice between the traditional fee-for-service government health-care program and a new option to purchase private insurance, with the cost partly supported by the government (Murray and King, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Hits The Tea Party Notes
Standing before a wall-size American flag in a banquet hall here, Mr. Romney drew cheers from some 500 tea-party supporters Thursday as he touched one chord after another that resonates with the limited-government movement. Programs for the poor, such as Medicaid, should be run by the states, "as the Constitution intended," he said. Federal workers? Mr. Romney won applause by saying he would cut their pay by 10% (White and Nelson, 2/25).

Los Angeles Times: Brown Gets No Promise Of Federal Help For Medi-Cal
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday threw cold water on Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to ask California's poor to contribute to their federally subsidized healthcare — payments the governor has proposed to save the state more than $500 million a year (York, 2/26).

Los Angeles Times: Lawmakers Probe Prime Healthcare Services' Billing Practices
Controversial medical and billing practices by hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services came under scrutiny at a hearing before California lawmakers one day after the company's chief executive abruptly resigned (Terhune, 2/25).

The Washington Post: Virginia Ultrasound Bill Joins Other States' Measures
Virginia officials backed off last week from requiring vaginal ultrasounds before abortions, but state legislators are still expected to pass a bill that mandates abdominal ultrasounds and adds other significant requirements for women seeking abortions (Sun, 2/26).

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