KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: July 7, 2010

Today's biggest health policy news surrounds an announcement by the White House that President Obama will install a new Medicare and Medicaid chief with a recess appointment the bypasses the confirmation process.

Latest Destination For Medical Tourism: The U.S.
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "By steering workers to facilities with high-quality care and lower prices, employers say they can reduce their costs 20 percent to 40 percent - more than enough to cover the travel expenses" (Kaiser Health News).

Health On The Hill – July 6, 2010
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with KFF's Jackie Judd about the latest developments on Capitol Hill. Congress left town for the July 4th recess without taking action on legislation that would give states additional Medicaid funding through June of next year. A bipartisan group of governors who came to Washington last week said that without the extra funds they would have to make budget cuts beginning July 1 (Kaiser Health News). Read the transcript.

Dr. Donald Berwick – A Resource Guide From KHN
President Barack Obama will appoint Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today. Berwick, known as a passionate advocate for improving the health care system, was nominated earlier this year but his nomination turned out to be controversial. Some Republicans accuse him of favoring health care rationing -- a charge Democrats dismiss as nonsense. To shed light on Dr. Berwick, and the controversy surrounding him, KHN's Allison Fero assembled this resource guide (Kaiser Health News).

Obama To Bypass Senate To Name Health Official
President Obama will bypass Congress and appoint Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a health policy expert, to run Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said Tuesday (The New York Times).

Obama Plans Recess Appointment Of Medicare-Medicaid Chief
Facing the prospect of an acrimonious nomination fight that threatened to reprise last year's healthcare debate, President Obama will bypass the Senate to appoint a new head of the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs, the White House announced Tuesday evening (Los Angeles Times).

White House's Medicare Pick To Be Installed
President Barack Obama plans to install his nominee to oversee Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday, using a tactic aimed at averting a bitter fight in Congress (The Wall Street Journal). 

Obama Bypassing Senate For New Medicare Chief
Bypassing Republicans eager to grill an administration official over the new health care law, President Barack Obama is planning to appoint the head of Medicare and Medicaid without Senate hearings (The Associated Press).

President Obama To Bypass Senate On CMS Head
The White House announced late Tuesday that President Barack Obama will use a recess appointment to make Donald Berwick administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, angering Republicans who had opposed his nomination (Politico).

Healthcare: Democrats Up The Ante
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doubling down on healthcare reform, betting that it will do Democrats more good than harm in November's elections (The Hill).

Tanning Salons Feel Burned By 10 Percent 'Tan Tax'
The sun hasn't exactly set on Solar Planet, but anxiety over the fate of the Arlington tanning salon has been running high ever since a "tan tax" took effect Thursday (The Washington Post).

Analysis: Hospitals' Heart Attack Death Rates Drop
The new hospital report card comes seven years into an effort by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to spur improvement by publicly reporting how consistently hospitals provide recommended treatments to patients. Three years ago, the agency added heart attack and heart failure mortality. The agency now also reports pneumonia death rates and 30-day readmission rates for all three conditions (USA Today).

Screening Rates For Colon Cancer Improve
The number of Americans getting screened for colon cancer has risen significantly in recent years, and the rate of women being screened for breast cancer tops 80%. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says even higher rates of screening could prevent thousands of additional deaths from cancer each year. … Thomas Frieden, the director of CDC, said he believed the recent health-care reform law would help boost screening rates both for colon and breast cancer. The law, which is intended to get more Americans into health plans, also requires insurers to pay for recommended cancer screenings (The Wall Street Journal).

Germany Dilutes Health-Care Reforms
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government on Tuesday watered down health-care reform plans, agreeing to cover deep deficits with higher fees and only small spending cuts instead of the sweeping overhaul promised in last year's election campaign (The Wall Street Journal). 

Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via e-mail. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.