KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: October 21, 2010

Today's headlines include news about how opponents of the health law are steering the educational efforts that surround it, as well as poll results that suggest continued Republican inroads at the polls.

Vote Set On Contentious Health Law Provision
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Regulators are set to vote Thursday on controversial rules governing how much insurers must spend on patients' medical care – a key provision of the new health overhaul law" (Kaiser Health News).

Justice Dept. Pushes For Services To Move Patients Out Of Mental Hospitals
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Andy Miller writes: "A sweeping agreement this week between the Justice Department and the state of Georgia highlights an aggressive new campaign by the Obama administration to ensure that people with mental illness and developmental disabilities can get services in their communities and not be forced to live in institutions" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: Yeah, Those Emergency Rooms Are Crowded
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Harold Pollack writes: "Almost everyone understands that our emergency medical care system has real problems. Yet a surprising number of people, on many sides of the policy debate, wrongly view reducing emergency department use as a key measure of health reform's success" (Kaiser Health News).

Health Care Law's Opponents Steer Education Efforts
Back in March, on the day he signed the health care overhaul into law, President Obama conceded that the administration still had a lot of educating to do. … But in those ensuing months, it is the opponents of the health care overhaul who have done most of the educating. And polls have shown the public remains not only sharply divided over the merits of the measure, but continually confused about what it contains and what it would do (NPR).

AP-GfK Poll: Likely Voters Ready To Embrace GOP
All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in the first major elections of Barack Obama's presidency (The Associated Press).

WSJ/NBC Poll: GOP Makes Inroads On Health, Social Security
Republicans are making inroads on long-standing Democratic advantages on the issues of health care and Social Security, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found (The Wall Street Journal).

Wasserman Schultz Says GOP Plan To Privatize Entitlements Will Help Dems
A controversial GOP plan to tackle deficit spending by privatizing the nation's entitlements could help Democrats in senior-heavy Florida, a top Democrat argued Wednesday (The Hill's Healthwatch).

Justice Thomas' Wife Says Healthcare Law Is Unconstitutional
Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is working to repeal what she believes is President Obama's "unconstitutional law" regulating health insurance, an issue likely to be decided by the high court (Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau). 

ACLU, Anti-Abortion Groups Battle Dem Lawmaker Over Ads
The politics of healthcare reform and abortion are turning Ohio upside down as a federal judge gets ready to weigh in on state regulations regarding political speech (The Hill's Healthwatch).

Health Insurer HealthMarkets Sued By L.A. City Attorney Over 'Junk Insurance'
A national health insurer and its majority owners, Wall Street powerhouses Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Blackstone Group, were accused in a lawsuit Wednesday of defrauding their California customers with "junk insurance" that provided little or no protection (Los Angeles Times).

Aetna CEO To Retire Next Month
Aetna Inc.'s Chief Executive Ronald Williams, who led the company through the passage of the federal health overhaul and achieved a turnaround of the once-ailing health insurer, is stepping down. The company tapped President Mark Bertolini to succeed him (The Wall Street Journal).

Long-Term Care: Another Time Bomb For The Economy
Just a few weeks ago Richard Doelger opened a letter to find that the premiums on his long-term care insurance were set to jump 25 percent in November - that's on top of a 25 percent increase last year. The increases will jack up his payments to $434 a month for the policy, which covers in-home, nursing home and other assistance if he becomes disabled (The Fiscal Times).

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