KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: November 16, 2010

Today's headlines include reports about health exchanges, a new study tracking hospital errors and the gathering anticipation surrounding Medicare Chief Donald Berwick's Capitol Hill testimony this week.  

Insuring Your Health: Many Individual Health Policies Do Not Cover Pregnancy
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "Individual health insurance policies generally don't cover maternity care, as a recent investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported. In an October memo outlining its findings based on responses from the four largest for-profit health insurers -- Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint -- the committee reported that most individual policies at those companies didn't cover most of the expenses for a normal delivery" (Kaiser Health News).

2014 Question Looms: Could Medicaid Recipients Buy Insurance On Exchanges?
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Marilyn Werber Serafini writes: "As budget-weary state officials contemplate dropping out of the state-federal Medicaid program, a potentially game-changing question has arisen in Washington: Would poor people who lose Medicaid be eligible for subsidies to buy private coverage in an insurance exchange beginning in 2014?" (Kaiser Health News).

KHN Column: Health Care – Tell Us The Truth Before You Tell Us Why You Are Right
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Robert Laszewski writes: "We need more proposals like those being made by the President's deficit reduction commission, and the Medicare reform proposal authored by Republican House members Ryan, Cantor, and McCarthy. Irrespective of whether they are the best proposals, their authors started from a place where they told the truth" (Kaiser Health News).

Health On The Hill – November 15, 2010
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with NPR's Julie Rovner and KFF's Jackie Judd about the to-do list for Congress during the lame-duck session – which includes legislation to stop an impending cut in Medicare physician payments. Other health-related issues include the possible repeal of a provision requiring individuals to file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service for the purchase of goods and services of $600 or more, which has drawn the ire of small business groups (Kaiser Health News). Read the transcript.

Health-Care Reform In GOP Cross Hairs
After an arduous drive to pass health-care reform, President Obama and the now-depleted Democratic ranks on Capitol Hill are bracing to defend their legacy (The Christian Science Monitor).

Chamber To Unveil Pro-Business Lobbying Effort
After spending a record amount this election season to change the balance of power in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week plans to announce a pro-business agenda that will include attacking federal regulations in four areas: labor, energy, healthcare and financial services (Los Angeles Times).

A Look Down The Road At Medicare Cuts
The folks at Moody's Investors Service, the big credit-rating agency, took a look at the impact of reimbursement cuts in the federal health-care law could have on the companies it covers. And they found that the cuts could pose an enormous credit risk for some health-care companies (The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog).

Cardinal: Bishops Were Right On Health Care
The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday defended church leaders' strict opposition to President Barack Obama's health care plan, arguing the overhaul will allow backdoor taxpayer subsidy for abortion (The Associated Press/Washington Post).

Mistakes Chronicled On Medicare Patients
One of every seven Medicare beneficiaries who is hospitalized is harmed as a result of problems with the medical care there, according to a new study from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (The New York Times).

Hospital Care Fatal For Some Patients
An estimated 15,000 Medicare patients die each month in part because of care they receive in the hospital, says a government study released today (USA Today).

Eased Health-Law Rules Help Employers
The Obama administration is loosening health-law rules so employers can switch insurance carriers without having to abide by new coverage requirements (The Wall Street Journal).

Rivals Jockey For Roles In Insurance Exchanges
Health-technology companies are hoping that the new state insurance "exchanges" required by the federal health-care overhaul will offer them big new growth opportunities (The Wall Street Journal).

Exchanges Are Popular But Complex
How could too many choices become a problem? Ask the Massachusetts officials who put together the country's first insurance exchange (Politico).

Senators Anticipate Grilling Donald Berwick
When Medicare head Donald Berwick makes his first Capitol Hill appearance this week, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, he may feel akin to a rookie matador entering his first bullfight - waving a red cape at an angry bull (Politico).

Medicare Head Berwick To Argue Healthcare Law Doesn't Ration Care
Medicare administrator Donald Berwick will testify Wednesday that the Democrats' healthcare law does not ration care nor cut guaranteed Medicare benefits, according to his prepared remarks (The Hill's Healthwatch Blog).

Walmart Drug Plan For Seniors May Not Be Best Deal
Consumer alert: A new Medicare drug plan with the lowest upfront cost in the country may not be for everyone, experts say (The Associated Press).

Medicare To Review Cancer Treatment
Medicare officials are debating whether the agency should cover a new prostate-cancer treatment that costs $93,000 per patient, sparking criticism from Dendreon Corp. investors and patient advocacy groups who earlier pushed the Food and Drug Administration to approve the novel therapy (The Wall Street Journal).

GOP Frosh: Where's My Health Care?
A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in (Politico).

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