KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: November 9, 2010

Today's news includes reports about the Supreme Court's decision regarding an early challenge to the health law. 

Insuring Your Health: OTC Medicines Cut From 2011 Flexible Spending Accounts
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "The health-care overhaul has taken some of the flex out of flexible spending accounts, which let workers pay medical expenses with pretax dollars. Starting in January, you'll no longer be able to use your FSA for over-the-counter drugs and medicines unless you have a doctor's prescription" (Kaiser Health News).

New GOP Governors Will Affect Health Law
Republicans' consolidation of power in state capitols is likely to expand the number of states that employ a far more limited, free-market-oriented approach to implementing the nation's new health-care law than the robust regulatory model favored by its supporters (The Washington Post).

Supreme Court Dismisses First Health-Care Challenge
The Supreme Court passed up its first chance to review Congress's overhaul of the health-care system on Monday, which was not a surprise. Lower courts are just beginning to hear challenges to the law, so a decision by the justices to step in now would be highly unusual (The Washington Post).

Justices Reject Review Of Health-Care Overhaul
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a long-shot request for a review of the Obama administration's health-care overhaul before the matter has been fully litigated. The high court's rejection of the health-care challenge, brought by a conservative legal group in California, wasn't a surprise, but it yielded one notable piece of information: Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas participated in the court's decision not to hear the case (The Wall Street Journal).

High Court Turns Down Early Health Care Challenge
The Supreme Court has turned down the first preliminary challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (The Associated Press).

More Americans Opt For High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans
Looking to save money in a weak economy, Americans increasingly are turning to health insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles - prompting doctors and health experts to worry that consumers may be skipping routine care that could head off serious ailments (Los Angeles Times).

Workers' Health Insurance Costs For 2011 Include Premiums And Co-Payments
For millions of Americans who get their health insurance through their job, autumn brings not only falling leaves and cooler breezes, but also difficult choices. That's because it's the time when many employers present workers with their insurance options for the coming year (The Washington Post).

Doctors Renew Push To Delay Medicare Fee Cuts
With Congress returning next week for a contentious lame-duck session, doctors are stepping up their campaign to press lawmakers to put off major cuts in Medicare payments to physicians that are scheduled to take effect next month (Los Angeles Times).

Darrell Issa Plans Hundreds Of Hearings
California Rep. Darrell Issa is already eyeing a massive expansion of oversight for next year, including hundreds of hearings; creating new subcommittees; and launching fresh investigations into the bank bailout, the stimulus and, potentially, health care reform (Politico).

Families Fight To Care For Disabled Kids At Home
You've probably never seen a person hooked up to so many plastic tubes as Olivia Welter. There's a ventilator tube that keeps her breathing. There's a feeding tube that's also the tube for her dozen or so medicines. There are the tubes to the vibrating vest that loosens the mucus in her lungs. Another tube to help her cough. The tube that her nurse uses a couple times an hour to suction the mucus out of her mouth (NPR).

NIIT Technologies Plans Healthcare Foray
NIIT Technologies Ltd. may buy a company or a software product to help it get outsourcing contracts from the global healthcare industry, its chief financial officer, Pratibha Advani, said. The plan comes as Indian technology companies eye opportunities from increased U.S. spending to digitize healthcare records, a potential investment spree that would help offset the impact of the global economic downturn, when clients cut spending and sought lower rates (The Wall Street Journal).

FDA Urges Two Steps For Safer CT Scans
The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that manufacturers of CT scanners should do a better job of training and educating those who use their equipment, and that the machines themselves could be made safer by warning operators that a dangerously high radiation dose is about to be administered (The New York Times).

Watchdog  Says FDA Risked Integrity
Congress's watchdog arm has criticized the Food and Drug Administration for creating the appearance of favoritism toward a Boston company that won lucrative first rights to sell a generic drug after providing free consulting work to the agency (The Wall Street Journal).

Anti-Smoking Programs Are Slashed
Many cash-strapped U.S. states are slashing budgets for tobacco-prevention programs, raising alarms among public-health groups as the nation's progress toward getting adult smokers to quit has stalled (The Wall Street Journal).

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