KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 26, 2010

Highlights from today's headlines include the latest political developments surrounding health reform as well as news about California's health insurance premium rates.

KHN Column: The New Momentum Behind Electronic Medical Records
In this Kaiser Health News column, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes that in almost every other sector besides health, electronic information exchange is the way we do business. Health care providers may agree with the benefits of electronic health records. But they've also believed that adopting them was too difficult and expensive (Kaiser Health News).

Health On The Hill – August 25, 2010
In this Kaiser Health News interview, KFF's Jackie Judd talks with Time's Michael Crowley about recent news during this August recess. Lawmakers are finding the electorate to be quieter on the topic of health care than they were during last summer's heated town hall meetings. Even so, the new health law continues to be a topic of discussion during the primary election season and the run-up to this fall's mid-terms (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: The Medical Loss Ratio Requirements Are Being Carefully Crafted
In this Kaiser Health News column, Timothy Jost responds to the August 23 opinion column by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Michael Ramlet. Jost, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners consumer representative, says the NAIC has been meticulously transparent and participatory in its processes to implement the medical loss ratio requirement (Kaiser Health News). 

Healthcare Law Bakers Plan Counteroffensive
After months of being pummeled by Republican attacks on the new healthcare law, the Obama administration and its allies are striking back in an attempt to stem public disaffection with the health overhaul ahead of the November election (Los Angeles Times).

Ads Slam Senate Candidates In Ky., Pa. And Calif.
A political group affiliated with former top Republican Party officials is airing TV ads in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California targeting Democratic U.S. Senate candidates for supporting what the group disparagingly calls "ObamaCare" (The Associated Press).

Anthem Blue Cross Is Allowed To Move Ahead With Rate Hikes
California insurance regulators cleared the way Wednesday for Anthem Blue Cross to implement scaled-back rate hikes after a previous increase was canceled amid an uproar over its size (Los Angeles Times). 

Health-Insurance Market Moves Ahead In California
California passed legislation creating a health-insurance marketplace, a move set to be echoed across the country as states take steps to implement federal law (The Wall Street Journal).

One Liberal Voice Dares To Say, Cut The Budget
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D.-Ore., sides with the White House on the notion that Democrats need to do something now about the federal debt, starting with cuts in wasteful federal spending (like some farm subsidies and military outlays) and with changes to cherished entitlement programs. Mr. Blumenauer doesn't argue that government does too much, or that programs like Social Security and Medicare aren't vital. Rather, in two recent conversations about the nation's finances, Mr. Blumenauer argued that if Democrats really want to protect a vast array of federal programs from repeated Republican onslaughts, then they need to bring the costs of the programs in line with reality (The New York Times).

Drug Lobby Defends Rise In Prices
Big pharma is pushing back against a new report indicating that drug prices skyrocketed last year (The Hill's Healthwatch Blog).

Deadline Extended For Ground Zero Responders
Thousands of ground zero responders are being given more time to decide whether to settle lawsuits over their exposure to potentially toxic dust from the ruins of the World Trade Center, lawyers in the case said Wednesday (The Associated Press).

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