Daily Health Policy Report

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last updated: Tue, Jun 21

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Capitol Hill Watch

Health Reform

Health Care Marketplace


State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Effort To End Surgeries On Wrong Patient Or Body Part Falters

Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Sandra G. Boodman writes: "Mistakes such as amputating the wrong leg, performing the wrong operation or removing a kidney from the wrong patient can often be prevented by what O'Leary called 'very simple stuff': ensuring that an X-ray isn't flipped and that the right patient is on the table, for example. Such errors are considered so egregious and avoidable that they are classified as 'never events,' because they should never happen. But seven years later, some researchers and patient safety experts say the problem of wrong-site surgery has not improved and may be getting worse, although spotty reporting makes conclusions difficult" (Boodman, 6/20). Read the story.

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Appealing An Insurer's Denial Is Often A Good Strategy

In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "Nobody wants to get into a fight with a health insurer, but it may be worth your while. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that more claims problems stemmed from annoying but often straightforward billing and eligibility issues than from disagreements over whether care was medically appropriate. What's more, the odds are about 50/50 that if you appeal an insurer's decision, you'll win” (Andrews, 6/20). Read the column.

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Health On The Hill: Democrats, Republicans Stake Out Positions In Budget Talks

In this Kaiser Health News feature, PBS Newshour's David Chalian talks with Jackie Judd about the latest developments in the budget negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden and the role of Medicaid and Medicare in those talks (6/20). Watch the video or read the transcript.

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Political Cartoon: 'Breaking The Bank?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh perspective on health policy developments with "Breaking The Bank?" by Jeff Parker.

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Capitol Hill Watch

Pace Picks Up In Budget Talks But 'Big Ticket Items' Still In Play

The key stumbling blocks in the ongoing negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden are Medicare changes and fresh revenue demands.

The Washington Post: White House, Lawmakers Speed Up Debt-Reduction Talks
With an Aug. 2 deadline nearing, along with the threat of turmoil in global financial markets if Congress doesn't act, Vice President Biden is stepping up talks this week with six lawmakers from both parties in hopes of presenting a plan to President Obama and congressional leaders by July 4. So far, negotiators have identified many areas of consensus: Farmers are certain to lose some federal subsidies, for example. And federal workers will have to contribute more to finance their retirement. But what Biden called "the philosophically big-ticket items" remain: the Republican demand for significant savings from Medicare, the biggest driver of future deficits, and the Democratic demand for fresh revenue (Montgomery, 6/20).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Democrats, Republicans Stake Out Positions In Budget Talks
In this Kaiser Health News feature, PBS Newshour's David Chalian talks with Jackie Judd about the latest developments in the budget negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden and the role of Medicaid and Medicare in those talks (6/20). Watch the video or read the transcript.

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: AARP's Misleading Ad About Balancing The Budget
With talks on reaching a deal to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling reaching a critical stage, the venerable over-50 organization AARP has weighed in with a television advertisement that seeks to shift the focus from entitlement programs such as Medicare onto what it deems to be wasteful spending by Congress. We had earlier given the American public four Pinocchios for failing to understand the basics of the federal budget. We reached that conclusion after a new poll showed 63 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government spends more on defense and foreign aid than it does on Medicare and Social Security. (That's wrong.) … Given those beliefs, it seems that the AARP pitch would have a receptive audience. But is it right? (Kessler, 6/20).

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Health Reform

Doctors Stick With Support For Individual Mandate

The American Medical Association's House of Delegates — after a lengthy debate — voted to maintain its support for the health law's individual mandate.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: AMA Sticks With Individual Mandate
The American Medical Association reaffirmed its support for the most contentious plank of the new health care law — requiring most Americans to carry insurance or pay a fee — but not before a lengthy debate. At its annual meeting in Chicago this weekend, the nation's biggest doctors' group debated whether to uphold its longstanding support for the "individual mandate." Two federal courts have ruled it violates the Constitution, and the Supreme Court ultimately is expected to decide the issue (Adamy, 6/20).

The Hill: AMA Will Still Back Individual Mandate
The American Medical Association voted Monday to maintain its support for a controversial piece of health care reform. The AMA's House of Delegates voted 326-165 to support the law's requirement that most people buy insurance. The coverage mandate is at the center of several lawsuits challenging the new law's constitutionality. AMA President Cecil Wilson said the "overwhelming" vote shows that doctors still believe a mandate is necessary to achieving universal coverage (Baker, 6/20).

The Baltimore Sun: AMA Affirms Support Of Health Insurance Requirement
Despite an uprising of member doctors, the American Medical Association will continue to support a key tenet of the health care law that requires Americans to buy health insurance. By a margin of 2 to 1, the AMA's policy-making House of Delegates voted Monday to continue to back the so-called "individual mandate," saying such individual responsibility for Americans who can afford to buy coverage was the best option to expand benefits to the uninsured (Jaspen, 6/20).

Reuters: Doctors Reaffirm Insurance Responsibility Stance
The American Medical Association on Monday reaffirmed its position that individuals should be responsible for buying health insurance, a contentious provision of U.S. health care reform. The health reform law's requirement that everyone buy insurance is facing a legal challenge by 26 states that contend the government cannot compel citizens to engage in commerce. At the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago, two-thirds of delegates voted to uphold the group's policy supporting individual responsibility for purchasing health insurance (Kelly, 6/20). 

CBS: Doctors Org. Backs Health Insurance Mandate
The nation's largest physician's group has affirmed its support for a key part of President Obama's health care overhaul. At its annual meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to maintain its official position in favor of the "individual mandate," which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance. The AMA prefers the term "individual responsibility" (Mank, 6/20).

Also during the organization's meeting, the AMA released its annual "Health Insurer Report Card," detailing a finding that about one in five medical claims paid by insurers is inaccurate.

The Associated Press: AMA: Doctors Shortchanged By Insurers' Mistakes
The nation's largest doctors' group says about one in five payments of medical claims by commercial health insurers is inaccurate, shortchanging physicians (6/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Inaccurate Insurance Claim Payments on the Rise, AMA Finds
The American Medical Association said Monday in its annual "Health Insurer Report Card" that large commercial insurers it surveyed have an average error rate of more than 19 percent in processing electronic physician claims. The doctors' group, which is meeting for its annual convention in Chicago, said that was an increase of 2 percent compared to last year and represents an "intolerable level of inefficiency." Barbara L. McAneny, an AMA board member, said in a written statement that health insurers must put more effort into paying claims correctly the first time to save money and administrative time. Most of the private insurers the AMA surveyed failed to improve their accuracy ratings in 2011 compared to 2010, the AMA said. The one exception was UnitedHealthcare, which also registered the highest accuracy rating at 90 percent compared to about 86 percent last year (Norman, 6/20). 

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Controversy Surrounding McKinsey Insurance Survey Continues

Though the consulting firm released its methodology, its findings continue to draw debate and criticism. Meanwhile, Avalere released a study of its own, which seems to contradict the McKinsey report.

The New York Times: Health Law In A Swirl Of Forecasts
The debate over the effects of the federal health care law on employer-provided insurance has been intensifying in recent weeks, with controversial polls and consultants contradicting one another about whether employees will benefit or lose coverage by 2014 (Freudenheim, 6/20).

NPR: McKinsey Stands By Contested Health Insurance Survey
Under fire from Democrats in Congress, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. today released its methodology for a controversial survey that found as many as 30 percent of employers might drop health insurance after the new health law takes effect in 2014. But the hot water McKinsey's in doesn't seem to be cooling off (Rovner, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: McKinsey Releases Insurance-Survey Data; More Controversy Ensues
Perhaps you recall that McKinsey report a few weeks back saying that nearly a third of employers might drop health care benefits when the health care overhaul takes effect. The report itself was the subject of many headlines. Then came the reaction from the White House and other supporters of the overhaul. That garnered more headlines – and a demand for McKinsey to explain its methodology. Now it's McKinsey's turn again (Cevallos, 6/20).

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: The Methodology Behind The McKinsey Health-Law Survey
Put on your green eye shades, because we're about to dive into one of the hotter recent issues in health care: the McKinsey report on implications of the health care overhaul law (Hobson, 6/20).

Modern Healthcare: Research Company Soft Pedals Prediction Of Less Employer Coverage
The company that authored a study which suggested up to 30 percent of employers would drop insurance for their workers because of the federal health care overhaul released some details demanded by Democrats and hedged on the predictive value of the research. "The survey was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act," said a statement on the website of McKinsey & Co. about a survey of 1,329 private sector employers on views about the 2010 health care law. "Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits" (Daly, 6/20).

Reuters: McKinsey Stands By Employer Health Insurance Survey
Consultant McKinsey & Co on Monday defended the methodology behind its survey gauging employers' views on providing health insurance to workers, a report that drew criticism from U.S. health reform supporters. The survey found 30 percent of respondents whose companies offered health insurance said they would "definitely" or "probably" drop coverage in the years following 2014, when the Affordable Care Act takes effect. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, last week sent a letter to McKinsey calling on the company to release the methodology behind the survey, published earlier this month (Kelly, 6/21).

MarketWatch: McKinsey Defends Controversial Survey
McKinsey & Co.'s survey, released earlier this month, found that 30 percent of all employers likely would stop offering health coverage once provisions of the landmark health legislation begin to take effect. Three out of 10 employers would "definitely" or "probably" stop offering coverage, the survey found, with 9 percent saying "definitely" and 21 percent saying "probably." "We stand by the integrity and methodology of the survey," McKinsey said in a statement Monday (Britt, 6/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Avalere: Employer-Sponsored Insurance Market 'Fairly Stable' After 2014
A new study of the health care law's impact on employer-sponsored insurance predicts that the market will be "fairly stable," mostly because large employers will tend to continue offering coverage. However, during the 10 to 20 years after the law goes into effect, "longer term erosion" is possible, says the study by Avalere Health. That might happen if the new health exchanges appear superior to employer provided coverage because they offer more choices, for example. Avalere's look into the future contrasts with an analysis released June 8 by McKinsey & Co. that caused a stir by concluding that 30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering employer-sponsored health insurance after 2014. Democrats have criticized that study and are pushing for its methodology to be publicly released (Norman, 6/20). 

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Obama Administration Launches Effort To Tout Medicare Preventive Benefits

The number of Medicare recipients who take advantage of these services has only increased slightly. The availability of these benefits was expanded by the health law.

The Washington Post: HHS To Push Awareness Of Free Services Under Medicare
A government effort to motivate Medicare patients to seek preventive medicine, by offering such services for free, has only slightly increased the number of older Americans getting cancer tests, key vaccines and other preventive care. Some 5.5 million Medicare patients have used at least one preventive benefit since Medicare eliminated the charges in January, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. ... But for services that had been covered in the past, dropping the charges did not produce a large spike in their use, compared with last year, when patients still had to pay for them (Goldstein, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: New Ad Campaign Touts Preventive Care Benefits Of Health Reform Law
The Obama administration is kicking off a nationwide ad campaign urging seniors to take advantage of free preventive services such as cancer screenings made possible in Medicare by the new health care law. The campaign — featuring television and radio ads in English and Spanish — comes on the heels of a new report showing that less than one in six Medicare beneficiaries have taken advantage of the new benefit since President Obama signed the law last year (Levey, 6/20).

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on another health law program — the pre-existing condition insurance plan.

The Wall Street Journal: Another Pricing Test For Insuring People With Pre-Existing Conditions
For the second time in less than a year, the government hopes to help some of the as many as 25 million uninsured Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Critics say it may be a case of too little, too late. Next month, a nationally funded health-care program will lower premiums and relax eligibility for some people with pre-existing conditions ranging from low blood pressure to cancer. Dubbed the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, the program is considered a cornerstone of President Obama's health care law, hitting a range of Americans from different economic classes, including the rising numbers of unemployed who have lost health care coverage (Andriotis, 6/21).

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Health Care Marketplace

Anthem Blue Cross Agrees To Limit Rate Hikes

Los Angeles Times: Anthem Blue Cross Settles Lawsuit, Agrees To Limit Rate Hikes
Settling a class-action lawsuit, California health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has agreed to limit rate increases for 122,000 policyholders whose plans have been closed to new customers. Affected policyholders for the first time would also be able to switch plans without having their medical histories reviewed (Helfand, 6/21).

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Supreme Court Accepts Case That Could Shape Field Of Personalized Medicine

Bloomberg: Diagnostic Medical Test Patents Draw High Court Scrutiny
The U.S. Supreme Court, accepting a case that will shape the burgeoning business of personalized medicine, agreed to consider what types of diagnostic medical tests can be patented. The justices agreed today to hear an appeal from the Mayo Clinic, which is challenging a lower court decision backing two patents for determining the dosage of medicines to treat stomach diseases. The ruling cleared the patents' owner, Prometheus Laboratories Inc., to press an infringement suit against two Mayo units. Patent protection is important for companies that are focusing on personalized medicine, including Myriad Genetics Inc. (MYGN) and Novartis AG. (NVS) The field involves determining whether a patient is genetically susceptible to a particular disease or would be especially responsive to certain medicines (Stohr and Decker, 6/20).

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State-Level Medicaid Cuts Could Have Impact Beyond Federal Reductions

In related news, Minnesota Public Radio reports on how the well-being of rural health providers is linked to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement.

Politico Pro: State Medicaid Cuts Could Matter More
For all of the concerns Medicaid advocates have about federal cuts in the deficit reduction talks, the real threat is likely to come from cuts already happening at the state level — because those can have an even bigger impact on the program. Thirty-one states have proposed — or already passed — 2012 budgets that cut into public health programs like Medicaid, according to a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The funding drop-offs are steep, ranging upward of $1 billion (Kliff, 6/21).

Minnesota Public Radio: Rural Health Care Under Pressure
Greater reliance on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement makes rural providers vulnerable. Rural people tend to be older and poorer, are less likely to have insurance and suffer more chronic illness. And the doctor shortage has gotten harder to deal with. In response, care is changing. ... MPR News compiled this Ground Level page to shine a light on examples and provide ways to learn more and get engaged (6/20). 

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State Watch

State Roundup: N.J. Gov. Christie's Big Health Care Changes

News outlets report on a variety of state health policy issues.

The Star Ledger: N.J. Senate Approves Pension, Health Care Reform Bill
The state Senate voted 24-15 to pass legislation that will force public employees to pay more for their health insurance and pension. The vote, after hours of speeches from lawmakers on both sides, leaves only the Assembly to sign off on the bill that was a focal piece of Gov. Chris Christie's agenda. The bill received largely Republican support to clear the Senate chamber, a strategy that Democrat Senate President Stephen Sweeney employed to get the bill passed (6/20).

Stateline: Christie Proposes To Slash Medicaid In New Jersey
New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie wants to cut $540 million from the state's Medicaid program by moving more people into managed care and restricting coverage of adults. Under his proposal, released last week, a parent of two children with an income exceeding $5,300 a year would be denied participation, a drastic reduction from the current income ceiling of $24,600. Children in these families would still be covered (Vestal, 6/21). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Legislative Session Heads Into Final Stretch
Louisiana lawmakers today begin a four-day slog through unfinished business as they conclude an election-year session defined by high-profile tussles between Gov. Bobby Jindal and increasingly testy coalitions of a usually compliant Legislature. At the top of the list is ratifying a budget compromise between the House version passed last month and the version passed late Sunday evening, with the upper chamber restoring cuts to Medicaid financing and other line items that the more austere House imposed (Barrow, 6/20).

The Texas Tribune: Strip Club Fee Back On Center Stage
The state's $5 "pole tax" on strip club patrons can't seem to avoid controversy. ... Lawmakers approved the strip club admissions tax in 2007 to raise money for sexual assault programs and low-income health insurance. The measure has been tied up in litigation ever since, with strip clubs arguing it's a tax on free speech (Ramshaw, 6/21). 

California Healthline: Grant Moved Up To Get IT Dollars
It is a daunting task, applying for a federal establishment grant for the California Health Benefit Exchange -- it lays out the direction and scope of the entire exchange, so the board's plan was to complete it in September. ... It became clear, however, that some of the work needed to get started -- particularly the health information technology work -- which means it needs federal cash sooner rather than later (Gorn, 6/20).

Kansas Health Institute News: The Undoing Of The Kansas Health Policy Authority
Kansas legislators liked the idea of the Kansas Health Policy Authority back in 2005, when the House and Senate each voted unanimously to create the new agency that came to control the majority of state government's health care spending. But by the time Gov. Sam Brownback took office this past January, the health policy authority had no real allies left in the Legislature. Brownback's executive reorganization order (ERO 38) merging the agency with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and dissolving without fanfare the quasi-independent board that had governed it came and went with no opposition in the House or Senate (Shields, 6/20). 

Georgia Health News: State Targeting Fraud In Nutrition Program
Georgia health officials have launched a campaign to stop persistent fraud in a $300 million federal nutrition program for low-income women and children. ... WIC serves roughly 9 million Americans, about 312,000 of whom are Georgians. The program is funded by the federal government but administered locally by the states. Pregnant mothers, postnatal women, and children up to age 5 can enroll (Miller, 6/20).

The Detroit News: Survey: Employee Health Care Costs Rise In Southeast Michigan
Metro Detroit employers saw employees' health care costs jump more this year than in the prior two years — in part because of federal health care reform mandates, according to a benefits survey released Monday. This year's 8 percent increase is greater than the 7 percent rise in 2010 and 5 percent increase in 2009, according to Troy-based consulting firm McGraw Wentworth. It also is higher than the national average increase projected at 6.4 percent for 2011 (Burden, 6/21).

Los Angeles Times: CalPERS Signs Pharmacy Benefits Deal With CVS Caremark
The California Public Employees' Retirement System signed a $575 million-a-year contract with CVS Caremark Corp. to provide prescription drug benefits to 346,000 members. The contract, announced Monday, came more than two weeks after Caremark settled a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging fraud in earlier contracts involving CalPERS and pension funds in other states (Lifsher, 6/21).

Arizona Republic: Physicians Group Opens A Specialty Hospital Site
The nation's health-care law limits doctors from owning hospitals, but it did not stop a group of local doctors from opening a new $57 million specialty hospital in Phoenix. The 64-room Orthopedic and Spine Inpatient Surgical Hospital, or Oasis, at 750 N. 40th St. in Phoenix, opened Friday with about 125 full-time nurses, medical and administrative staff. The hospital expects to begin treating patients next week. Oasis Medical Director David Ott said he and his physician partners have worked for six years to plan and develop the orthopedic- and spine-care hospital (Alltucker, 6/17). 

ABC News: N.C. Man Allegedly Robs Bank Of $1 To Get Health Care In Jail
A 59-year-old man has been jailed in Gastonia, N.C., on charges of larceny after allegedly robbing an RBC Bank for $1 so he could get health care in prison. Richard James Verone handed a female teller a note demanding the money and claiming that he had a gun, according to the police report. Verone said he asked for $1 to show that his motives were medical, not monetary, according to news reports (Moisse, 6/20).

The Connecticut Mirror: For Some, Going Without Health Insurance Is An Act Of Faith
Yvonne Mitto didn't have health insurance when she had sinus surgery this winter, and she couldn't be happier. She had her bills covered and, along with them, people across the country praying for her. ... Mitto belongs to Medi-Share, a health care sharing ministry in which members contribute money each month that pays other members' medical bills. ... Leaders stress that the ministries are not insurance, and more than a dozen states have laws exempting them from regulation (Levin Becker, 6/21).

Related, earlier KHN story: Some Church Groups Form Sharing Ministries To Cover Members' Medical Costs (Andrews, 4/25)

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Indiana Planned Parenthood To Stop Taking Medicaid Patients

The state cut funding in May but the clinics had been using $100,000 in contributions to help defray costs of seeing Medicaid patients. 

The Indianapolis Star: Planned Parenthood Stops Treating Medicaid Clients As Stopgap Funds Run Out
Planned Parenthood will stop treating Medicaid patients and lay off two of its three STD specialists after the donations it had been using to replace state funds ran out Monday. A tough state anti-abortion law cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana went into effect May 10, but more than $100,000 in donations has helped the health-services provider stay open and continue serving Hoosiers on Medicaid -- until this week. "Our 9,300 Medicaid patients, including those who had appointments Tuesday, are going to see their care disrupted," said Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana (Gillers and Scoggin, 6/21).

CQ HealthBeat: No More Medicaid Patients, Says Planned Parenthood of Indiana
Planned Parenthood of Indiana officials said Monday that they likely will have to stop accepting Medicaid patients by the end of the day. The announcement came following enactment in May of a state law that prevents Medicaid payments to entities that also provide abortions, a decision that Obama administration officials say violates federal Medicaid regulations (Norman, 6/20). 

Meanwhile, funding cuts made by Congress in the spring are affecting small clinics in Minnesota.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Budget Cuts Close 6 Planned Parenthood Clinics In Minnesota
Planned Parenthood is closing six clinics in outstate Minnesota on Aug. 1 because of federal budget cuts made this spring in a highly politicized abortion battle. The state's largest provider of family planning and abortions announced the closures Monday, citing an 11 percent reduction in its budget because of cuts to the federal Title X program (Olson, 6/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: GOP Reps. On Health Law; Medicare & Life Expectancy; Georgia Insurance Exchange Progresses

Roll Call: Roe, DesJarlais And Bucshon: GOP Doctors Eager To Talk Health Care With Obama
After a recent meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and Republican House Members, we asked the president to meet with the GOP Doctors Caucus to discuss concerns that we have about how the health care law will affect our patients. We were pleased that the president agreed. ... We believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act threatens the good parts of our health care system, and we came to Congress with the intention of giving our patients access to affordable care (Reps. Phil Rose, Scott DeJarlis and Larry Bucshon, 6/21).

The Wall Street Journal: In Battle Over Medicare, New Prescription Needed
When it comes to Medicare, the bad news for Republicans is that they clearly haven't convinced people that Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial plan to change how it works is a good idea. For Democrats, meanwhile, the bad news is that very few people think the status quo on Medicare is good enough either. The bad news for all of us is that the temptation to resort to demagoguery rather than solutions to Medicare's problems remains alive and well (Gerald F. Seib, 6/21). 

CNN: Life Expectancy Deceptive Issue In Medicare Debate 
This is what you should think about whenever someone talks about increasing the eligibility age for Medicare or Social Security. Not everyone's life expectancy is increasing. Those who need the benefits the most would be the ones who stand to lose the biggest percentage of them by raising the eligibility age. Asking them to pay more out-of pocket doesn't seem like a fair, nor workable, solution (Dr. Aaron Carroll, 6/20). 

Los Angeles Times: Michelle Obama's Common-Sense Healthcare Advice Is The Real Obamacare
If you want to talk about the real Obamacare, it's not what the president's been focusing on. Rather, it's what his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, has been doing. As a federal appeals court was wrestling the other day with the legality of requiring people to buy health insurance, the first lady was visiting a Washington child-care center to promote a national initiative to get kids to eat better, exercise more and spend less time in front of the tube (David Lazarus, 6/21). 

MinnPost: Michele Bachmann Is On Fire
I spent much of Saturday at the RightOnline conference. ... Bachmann has always been able to get a big reaction from a righty crowd. But here's what's relatively new. She did all that without making any "news" in the usual (or former) Bachmannian sense of getting a fact so wrong or choosing word so outrageously inappropriate that the gaffe overshadowed the rest of the presentation. Yes, she ... repeated the well-traveled and oft-debunked falsehood that the government will be adding 16,500 IRS agents to enforce the Obama health-care law (Eric Black, 6/20).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Next Steps For Georgia To Manage Health Care Legislation
Earlier this month, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order creating the Georgia Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, which is charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health exchange. If well crafted, a Georgia insurance exchange has the potential to increase transparency, present clear and meaningful choices, and promote better value for consumers who don’t have access to a health plan at work (Cindy Zeldin, 6/20).

Arizona Republic: Healthy Families: 20 Years Of Reducing Child Abuse
In a time when Arizona's commitment to its children is in question, our state can be proud of a program that has a 20-year record of reducing child abuse and neglect while encouraging new parents to create loving, stable relationships with their young children (Becky Ruffner, 6/20). 

The New York Times: In Iran, A Brotherhood Of Doctors And Patients
Few doctors anywhere in the world have done their country a greater service than the Iranian brothers Arash and Kamiar Alaei. Kamiar, who is 37, is currently living in Albany, N.Y., where he is working on a doctorate in public health. Arash, who is 42, is a resident of Tehran's notorious Evin prison — where until recently, Kamiar lived as well (Tina Rosenberg, 6/20). 

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Stephanie Stapleton

Andrew Villegas

Lisa Gillespie
Shefali Luthra

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.