KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Various Health Groups Examine Cost, Quality Issues

The Hill's Healthwatch blog: "The Air Force's top uniformed officer on Tuesday warned that growing healthcare costs could hurt other critical military needs. … [Gen. Norton] Schwartz said that the Pentagon pays $40 billion in healthcare costs for military members and retirees, and is expected to pay as much as $60 billion by 2015 - about 13 percent of the entire Pentagon budget" (Tiron, 10/12).

CNN: In the meantime, "[h]ealth plans that allow for many tests, doctor visits and hospital stays don't necessarily deliver the best quality of care for the cost, according to a new industry report Wednesday. This was one of the key findings in the 14th annual 'State of Health Care Quality' report from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). … The report examined the performance of more than 1,000 managed care plans that voluntarily submitted information on quality of care, access to care and member satisfaction. In total, these plans cover more than 116 million Americans" (Kavilanz, 10/13).

Politico: "A bipartisan group of House Energy and Commerce Committee members wants the Food and Drug Administration to delay some of its proposed changes to the process of reviewing and approving a wide array of medical devices ranging from syringes to MRI machines. The group of 12 lawmakers caution that five of FDA's recommendations have the potential to create new hurdles to getting products to the market. FDA's proposal includes changes in the approval of new products similar to products already on the market, adopting new policies on how to deal with changes in the intended use of a product, mandatory premarket inspections and required information for a subset of medical products" (Haberkorn, 10/12).

The Wall Street Journal: "An effort to track hundreds of thousands of replacement hip and knee surgeries across the U.S. each year will soon start gathering data, with the potential to uncover implant problems more quickly. That could eventually mean more recalls in a $12 billion industry ... By joining voluntarily and influencing development, manufacturers may dodge having to face mandated rules down the road. They'll gain product-durability insight that could help as new, higher-priced devices need to be justified by comparative-effectiveness testing" (Kamp, 10/13).

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