KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Nervous, Anxious For Health Reform In Face Of Rising Costs

Governors express nervousness about about Congress' pending health reform proposals. In Green Bay, residents watched costs rise, again, this year according to a new survey, and in Hawaii, most state workers saw soaring premiums, while teachers got off the hook by means of an innovative alternative insurance plan. In Massachusetts, 60 doctors accepted speaking fees from a drug giant.

Providence Journal: Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri said "'is extremely concerned' that health-care legislation being debated in Congress could complicate Rhode Island's recent Medicaid overhaul and create new costs for cash-strapped state governments." Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said the bill is "fully funded" and would not lead to new costs for states (Peoples, 9/28).

The Washington Times: By contrast, in an interview with reporters and editors, Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno "pleaded for Congress to include Puerto Rico in any health care bill that passes and said he wants to see the island territory be allowed to vote on changing its status" (Dinan, 9/29).

Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Green Bay-area residents have seen their annual health-care costs for an average family of four with insurance increase from $7,665 in 2002 to $12,035 five years later…" Three area hospitals once coordinated their services, but federal anti-trust laws caused the collapse of that system more than ten years ago, accelerating the rise in costs (Walter, 9/28).

Honolulu Advertiser: "Most public school teachers will pay the same for health care coverage this fiscal year under a new contract, while other state workers have been paying higher premium rates since July and have sought relief in contract talks with the state." The teachers' success is attributed to their self-insured voluntary employee beneficiary association (DePledge, 9/28).

The Boston Globe: "At least 60 Massachusetts doctors collectively have earned more than a half-million dollars this year as speakers paid by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. - including two Boston Medical Center physicians whose participation is being reviewed for possible violation of a hospital policy against marketing activities by its doctors" (Kowalczyk, 9/29).

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