KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Insurance Data Mining And Medicaid Reform In Illinois

Los Angeles Times: Your RX Or Your Privacy
IMS Health Inc. operates in the shadows of the healthcare industry, gathering data that drug makers can use to sell medications more effectively. The data, however, are taken from the prescriptions that doctors write for their patients. That information is at the heart of a dispute over how far states can go to protect privacy - a dispute that has reached the Supreme Court, and one that could broaden the reach of the 1st Amendment in troubling ways (1/31).

Chicago Tribune: 1 In 5 Illinoisans
After years of foot-dragging and excuse-mongering, the Illinois General Assembly passed a Medicaid reform bill earlier this month. A bill zipped through both chambers with hardly any opposition in a matter of hours. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill on Tuesday. That's great news. Modernizing the state's $14 billion Medicaid program - the largest single state budget expense - should save money and improve health care for the poor and disabled (1/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Let's Talk About ObamaCare
Their health-care repeal vote behind them, Republicans this week got down to exercising the power of hearings that House control now affords them. And the Obama administration, for its part, got a glimpse of how painful those hearings will prove to its policy causes (Kim Strassel, 1/28).

Houston Chronicle: Time To Dispel The Myths About Health Care Reform
The Affordabe Care Act has many flaws because of the process of compromise necessary for passage of such complex legislation. Yet it does develop a method of providing health care for 32 million more Americans, ensures many other coverage protections and starts a process for cost-cutting that is projected to substantially reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years. There are more positives than negatives in this bill. I also believe that many of the statements currently used to denigrate this bill are flawed or totally in error (Dr. Jay H. Stein, 1/29).

San Jose Mercury: California Insurance Commissioner Should Monitor Health Insurers
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones doesn't have the authority to prevent excessive rate increases by health insurers. But San Francisco-based Blue Shield of California is sure making the case that he should. Blue Shield is the only major California health insurance provider that is refusing to hold off on rate increases until Jones can review companies' rate filings. Making matters worse is the size of its proposed hike: a whopping 59 percent. And if Blue Shield follows through with its plan, the March 1 increase would be its third in less than six months. It's outrageous (1/30).

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