Daily Health Policy Report

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Last updated: Tue, Jul 16

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform

Capitol Hill Watch

Medicaid

Medicare

Quality

Health Information Technology

Administration News

Women's Health

State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Insuring Your Health: A Handful Of State Marketplaces Opt Not To Charge Smokers More For Premiums

Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "Since smokers' health-care costs tend to be higher than those of nonsmokers, is it reasonable for smokers to pay higher premiums when they buy insurance through the new state marketplaces that are scheduled to open in October? A handful of states and the District say the answer is no" (Andrews, 7/16). Read the column.

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Why Your Doctor May Still Have Paper Records

Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Uncle Sam wants your doctor go to digital. And the federal government is backing up that goal by offering money to practices if they start using digital records systems. Nearly half of all physicians in America still rely on paper records for most patient care, and time is running out to take advantage of the government incentive payments. So practices like Colorado Springs Internal Medicine are scrambling to get with the program" (Whitney, 7/15). Read the story.

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Capsules: Health Law Fosters A New Kind Of Business Partnership In Georgia; Few Medicaid Docs Have Seen 2013 Pay Raise; Electronic Health Records Help Cut Costs For Mass. Community Docs: Study

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, WABE's Jim Burress, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on a new health care partnership in Georgia: "Medical equipment manufacturers operate largely on a 'supply and demand' model: Hospitals buy their multi-million dollar machines, use them for a few years, and then the process starts again. But Philips Healthcare and a hospital system in Georgia are betting on a new business model, one that has risks and rewards for both the hospital and the manufacturer" (Burress, 7/16).

Phil Galewitz reports on Medicaid payment rates: "Most primary care doctors are still waiting for that Medicaid pay raise that was scheduled to begin in January under the Affordable Care Act, but a federal official says the government has now approved applications from 48 states to begin paying the higher rates" (Galewitz, 7/16).

Also on the blog, Alvin Tran reports on a study regarding EHRs and health care costs: "The adoption of electronic health records by community doctors helped drive down health costs, a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported. Previous studies, many dealing with academic teaching hospitals, have yielded mixed results about the effects electronic health records (EHRs) have had and have drawn concerns over the adoption of health information technology. Federal officials are encouraging the implementation of such systems, arguing that it will help curb the rise in health spending by eliminating duplication of services and medical errors" (Tran, 7/15). Check out what else is new on the blog.

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Political Cartoon: 'Go With The Flow?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Go With The Flow?" by Nate Beeler.

Meanwhile, here is today's health policy haiku:

REALLY? NOT YET?

Twenty years ago,
Your car got e-records, but
Still, not your doctor.
-Anonymous

 

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

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Health Reform

How Will Health Exchanges Work? Business Versions May Offer Clues

News outlets look at how the health law's new online insurance marketplaces might work and examine the experiences of employees participating in private corporate exchanges. Others examine what some critics view as opportunities for fraud and bad actors.

Politico: Obamacare Primer: How Is It Really Going To Work?
In less than three months, people are going to be able to sign up for Obamacare coverage for the first time. To hear the Obama administration tell it, it'll be quick and painless. Fill out a short form, and new health insurance marketplaces will be instantly able to "ping" a massive data system that can check just about everything you say — keeping most people honest and cheats to a minimum (Nather, 7/15).

Fiscal Times/Bankrate: Why Health Exchanges Aren't Just for the States
America's first federal-state health insurance marketplaces, or "exchanges," are scheduled to open for early enrollment this fall, marking a major milestone of health care reform. But some of the estimated 159 million Americans with employer-based health coverage are getting a jump on the exchange experience by logging on to new private, corporate health care exchanges. Those are gaining traction with employers and offer lessons for future users of the other exchanges (MacDonald, 7/15).

The Hill: ObamaCare Advice Program Sparks Fights Across The Nation
An ObamaCare program that advises consumers on their new health insurance options is sparking fights across the country from critics who say it puts consumers at risk of fraud. Eighteen states have enacted or are considering legislation to apply tougher requirements to "navigators," the people and organizations who will help patients shop for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's new marketplaces (Viebeck, 7/16).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Obamacare Contractor Under Investigation In Britain
The British government has launched an investigation of Serco Group, parent company of the firm recently awarded $1.2 billion to manage key elements of the U.S. health-care law's rollout. That contract, announced in late June, is among the largest Affordable Care Act grants made so far, expected to cover the hiring of 1,500 workers who will process a wave of health coverage applications. In the United Kingdom, Serco Group reportedly overbilled the government by "tens of millions of pounds" under a contract to monitor offenders on parole and individuals released on bail, according to an audit conducted by the country's Justice Ministry (Kliff, 7/15).

Meanwhile, state news on the implementation of health exchanges and the Medicaid expansion -

The Associated Press: W. Va. Gov Again Quizzes Feds On Health Overhaul
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin pressed federal officials for more needed details Monday as West Virginia faces approaching deadlines for several key components of the health care overhaul. Tomblin, a Democrat, posed 10 questions to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arising from expanding Medicaid and creating a health insurance marketplace (7/16).

The Associated Press: RI Launching Outreach Campaign For Health Exchange
Rhode Island is launching an effort to raise the profile of the online marketplace that individuals and small businesses can use to buy health insurance once the federal health care overhaul takes full effect next year. Christine Ferguson, director of the state-run health benefits exchange, said Monday the outreach campaign will include presentations to businesses, community groups and consumers in all 39 of Rhode Island's cities and towns and also will feature radio and TV ads and other promotions (Niedowski, 7/15).

Arizona Republic: Medicaid Wounds Are Still Raw In GOP
If the latest fracas between Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican Party operatives is any indication, it’s going to be a long, ugly 13 months until the 2014 primary election. Brewer recently reached out to the right wing of her party in hopes of healing wounds left by the bipartisan passage of Medicaid expansion, saying it’s time to put differences aside and unite for the good of the party. Conservative Republicans responded by sharpening their invective and moving forward with a series of “no confidence” votes against the governor and the 14 GOP lawmakers who backed the governor’s expansion plan last month (Reinhart, 7/16).

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Some Employers Continue To Offer 'Skinny' Plans

Even though the Obama administration will not enforce the mandate requiring large employers to offer coverage for another year, some companies still plan to offer so-called "skinny," or limited benefit plans -- and the federal government will permit them, according to Politico. Other reports look at the growth in part-time jobs and whether that is a result of the health care law.

Politico: ACA Penalties Spawn 'Skinny' Plans
Employers heaved a sigh of relief when the Obama administration announced it would not enforce Obamacare's mandate that large companies provide insurance to their workers next year. But some companies plan to offer "skinny plans" designed to duck the biggest penalties anyway, according to industry consultants. And the Obama administration has extended its blessing to this limited coverage, even though it would not protect individuals from medical bills that could cause financial ruin in the case of severe injury or illness (Norman, 7/16).

The Associated Press: Health Insurers Fear Young People Will Opt Out
Dan Lopez rarely gets sick and hasn’t been to a doctor in 10 years, so buying health insurance feels like a waste of money. Even after the federal health overhaul takes full effect next year, the 24-year-old said he will probably decide to pay the $100 penalty for those who skirt the law’s requirement that all Americans purchase coverage (Kennedy, 7/15).

The New York Times' Well Blog: Health Insurance Within Reach
Ever since Marci Lieber, a part-time social worker in Brooklyn, learned she was pregnant, she and her husband have been scrambling to find health insurance. But insurers consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition, and won't sell anyone a new policy that covers it. That changes on Jan. 1, 2014, when insurers will no longer be permitted to deny coverage of pre-existing conditions — and all Americans will be required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Lieber, 37, hopes to purchase a policy through New York State's new health exchange as early as this October (Rabin, 7/15).

Fiscal Times/TheWeek.com: Obamacare: The Part-Time, Low-Wage Job Creator
This year, the leisure and hospitality industry has been adding the lion's share of new jobs to the U.S. economy. Since April, hotels, restaurants, bars, and other leisure businesses have created an average of 50,000 jobs a month, double the rate from 2012, and more than any other industry. In June, 75,000 of the 195,000 new jobs created in the entire economy were cooks, waiters, bartenders, etc. Traditionally, a booming leisure industry points to a healthy economy: When people have more money to spend and confidence in their jobs, they treat themselves to more food, drinks, and vacations. But that's probably not what's happening here. The Wall Street Journal says many of the new jobs are part-time, which could be a direct reaction to ObamaCare (7/15).

PBS NewsHour: Austin Musicians Find Unique Solution For Affordable Health Care (Video)
Country, rock, punk, soul. Regardless of genre, two things once united most musicians in Austin, Texas: a lack of health insurance and income averaging less than $16,000 per year. Ray Suarez reports on a how an unusual health alliance keeps artists' health care costs low so they can keep playing (7/15).

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Pilot Program Finds Improving Quality Easier Than Lowering Health Care Costs

The Wall Street Journal: Mixed Results In Health Pilot Plan
Lowering health-care costs is tougher than improving the quality of care, according to first-year results from a key pilot program under the federal health law. All of the 32 health systems in the so-called Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program improved patient care on quality measures such as cancer screenings and controlling blood pressure, according to data to be released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But only 18 of the 32 managed to lower costs for the Medicare patients they treated—a major goal of the effort (Beck, 7/16).

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Capitol Hill Watch

House Subcommittee Schedules Markup Of 'Doc Fix' Bill

The panel on July 22 will consider a measure repealing the current Medicare physician payment formula. Also in the news, some fact-checking on House GOP efforts to repeal the health law.

CQ HealthBeat: Upton Announces Markup Of 'Doc Fix' Bill In Energy And Commerce
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a markup July 22 of a bill to overhaul how Medicare pays physicians, a step forward in repealing the unpopular current formula. The subcommittee markup would be the first in several years on a plan to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula and institute a new system for Medicare reimbursements to doctors. Full committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., confirmed the markup Monday in an interview with local CBS television affiliate WWMT in Michigan (Ethridge, 7/16).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Harry Reid's Claim That House GOP Efforts To Repeal 'Obamacare' All Ended In Failure
Congressional Republicans have never reconciled themselves to passage of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which became law in 2010 without a single Republican vote when the Democrats had big majorities in the House and Senate. But a review of the votes commonly lumped together as "repeal" shows that only a handful in this list of "40" (actually 37) involved repeal of the entire law (Kessler, 7/16).

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Medicaid

New Mexico Medicaid Overhaul OK'd

Other news outlets look at the delay in increasing pay rates for primary care doctors who participate in Medicaid and the limited access to medications for people addicted to painkillers enrolled in the health care program for the poor.

The Associated Press: New Mexico Medicaid Overhauls Wins Approval
Medicaid recipients will face co-pays for some treatments and have their medical services tracked as part of a program overhaul that is intended to lower the costs of providing health care, Gov. Susana Martinez's administration announced Monday. There will be no changes in determining who qualifies for Medicaid, which serves about a quarter of New Mexico's population (Massey, 7/15).

Stateline: Medicaid Coverage Limits Access To Medications For Painkiller Addicts
Many private insurance companies and state Medicaid agencies across the country impose sharp limitations on access to medications used in the treatment of the addiction to prescription painkillers known as opioids. A report commissioned by the American Society of Addiction Medicine found that Medicaid agencies in just 28 states cover all three of medications that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for opioid addiction treatment: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The study also found that most state Medicaid agencies, even those that cover all three medications, place restrictions on getting them by requiring prior authorization and re-authorization, imposing lifetime limitations and tapering dosage strengths (Ollove, 7/16).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Few Medicaid Docs Have Seen 2013 Pay Raise;
Most primary care doctors are still waiting for that Medicaid pay raise that was scheduled to begin in January under the Affordable Care Act, but a federal official says the government has now approved applications from 48 states to begin paying the higher rates (Galewitz, 7/16).

Kansas Health Institute: DD Groups Largely Reconciled To KanCare Carve-In
After opposing the move for nearly two years, many providers of long-term services for the developmentally disabled say they now are largely resigned to the state's plan to fully include their system in KanCare. But that doesn't mean all the questions and worries about the proposed changes have gone away. Chief among them seems to be this: How will the whole thing work? (Shields, 7/15).

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Medicare

Self-Referred Biopsies Cost Taxpayers Millions, GAO Reports

Physicians who prepare and examine tissue samples within their own practices, or who use services in which they have a financial interest, report higher use of these services, which could be driving up costs to Medicare, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Modern Healthcare: Self-Referrals Costing Medicare Millions, GAO Reports
Physicians who prepare and examine tissue samples in their own practices rather than referring them to labs report higher use of the services, suggesting that the financial incentives behind self-referrals may be driving the increase, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a new report (PDF), the GAO concludes that Medicare would have saved $69 million on anatomic pathology services in 2010 if self-referring physicians performed biopsies at the same rate and referred the same number of services per procedure as non-self-referring providers (Lee, 7/15).

CQ HealthBeat: Doctor-Referred Biopsies Too High, GAO Says
The number of times doctors order anatomic pathology tests, more commonly known as biopsies, when they have a financial stake in the testing is increasing dramatically, with the Government Accountability Office estimating that in 2010, Medicare paid $69 million it could have saved had the number of self-referrals not been so high (7/16).

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Quality

U.S. News Issues Its Hospital Honor Roll

This year's rankings cover nearly 5,000 medical centers across the country and span 16 medical specialties.

U.S. News & World Report: Best Hospitals 2013-14: Overview And Honor Roll
Some hospitals have more expertise than others when it comes to caring for patients with life-threatening or rare conditions. And people facing such health challenges need every bit of help they can get. That's why U.S. News & World Report publishes annual rankings of the nation's Best Hospitals. The rankings, now in their 24th year, cover nearly 5,000 medical centers across the country and span 16 medical specialties, from cancer to neurology & neurosurgery. Hospitals that rank near the top of at least six specialties earn a spot on the Honor Roll. Just 18 distinguished hospitals made this year's list (Leonard, 7/16).

KHN earlier, related coverage: Hospital Ratings Websites (Rau, 3/18) and Hospital Ratings Are In The Eye Of The Beholder (Rau, 3/18).

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Health Information Technology

Study: EHRs Cut Some Costs, But May Not Show Savings Everywhere

The researchers find that adoption of electronic health records cut costs for some Massachusetts community doctors but may not reduce overall inpatient hospital costs.

Kaiser Health News: Electronic Health Records Help Cut Costs For Mass. Community Docs: Study
The adoption of electronic health records by community doctors helped drive down health costs, a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported. Previous studies, many dealing with academic teaching hospitals, have yielded mixed results about the effects electronic health records (EHRs) have had and have drawn concerns over the adoption of health information technology. Federal officials are encouraging the implementation of such systems, arguing that it will help curb the rise in health spending by eliminating duplication of services and medical errors (Tran, 7/15).

Medpage Today: EHRs Have Mixed Effect On Health Costs
Using electronic health records (EHRs) saved a little more than 3 percent in ambulatory health costs 18 months after adoption but didn't reduce overall inpatient costs, a large comparative study of EHR use found. With that rate of savings, it would take 7 years to recoup the projected 5-year adoption costs for an EHR, according to the study, which was published in July 16 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (Pittman, 7/15).

In the meantime, medical practices and officials in Colorado and California scramble to get federal incentive payments for adopting electronic health records --

Kaiser Health News: Why Your Doctor May Still Have Paper Records
Uncle Sam wants your doctor go to digital. And the federal government is backing up that goal by offering money to practices if they start using digital records systems. Nearly half of all physicians in America still rely on paper records for most patient care, and time is running out to take advantage of the government incentive payments. So practices like Colorado Springs Internal Medicine are scrambling to get with the program (Whitney, 7/15).

California Healthline: Grants Set For Rural Information Exchange
University of California-Davis officials are ramping up efforts to sign up rural health centers in California for a federally funded program that provides subsidies for providers to adopt electronic information exchanges. Health information exchanges are a central tenet of the Affordable Care Act. Getting a functional and smooth-running network up to speed in rural areas can be especially difficult, according to health experts. Now, through a partnership between HHS and California Health eQuality (CHeQ), part of UC Davis' Institute for Population Health Improvement, remote parts of the state can be connected by the Rural Health Information Exchange Incentive Program (Hart, 7/15).

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Administration News

Obama Issues Order To Step Up Efforts To Combat HIV/AIDS

President Barack Obama's executive order said a working group chaired by Office of National AIDS Policy Director Grant Colfax and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would have 180 days to deliver its recommendations.

The Hill: Obama Announces New Effort Against HIV
President Obama announced a new initiative Monday to fight HIV in the United States by better coordinating federal efforts against the virus. In an executive order, Obama repeated his commitment to an "AIDS-free generation" and described a new working group to support the administration's 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy (Baker and Viebeck, 7/15).

Reuters: Obama Orders Stepped Up Effort Against U.S. HIV/AIDS Epidemic
The order said a working group chaired by Grant Colfax, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would have 180 days to deliver recommendations to the president. The HIV Care Continuum Working Group will gather information from federal agencies on HIV testing and care, review HIV research, and recommend ways to accelerate and improve HIV treatment and care, it said. The new order follows recommendations this year from the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force that all 15 to 65 year olds be screened for HIV infection, something that will be covered under Obama's signature heath reform, the Affordable Care Act (Abuteleb, 7/15).

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Women's Health

North Dakota Judge Strikes Down State Law On Nonsurgical Abortion Drugs

The state judge issues an opinion from an April trial. In the meantime, new abortion and "personhood" proposals in that state rankle some medical professionals.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Judge Rules North Dakota Law On Medication Abortions Is Unconstitutional; State To Appeal
A 2011 North Dakota law that outlaws one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions violates the state and U.S. constitutions, a state judge ruled Monday. After a three-day trial in April, East Central Judge Wickham Corwin said he'd rule in favor of the state's sole abortion clinic, calling the 2011 state law "simply wrongheaded." Corwin officially ruled on the case Monday (7/15).

MinnPost: Potential Effects Of New Anti-Abortion Laws And 2014 'Personhood' Measure Raise Medical Concerns In N. Dakota
Among the patients Dr. Stephanie Dahl has treated so far this year were two college students with cancer. Both radiation and chemotherapy can destroy a woman’s fertility. So that each has the chance to have a family at a better time, Dahl, a reproductive endocrinologist in Fargo, N.D., fertilized eggs from each and froze the resulting embryos. If North Dakota voters next year approve a radical proposal to define "personhood" as beginning the moment sperm meets egg, Dahl will have to stop offering in-vitro fertilization, among other services, or risk criminal charges (Hawkins, 7/15).

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State Watch

State Highlights: Minn. Health Plans Stockpile Nearly $2B In Cash

A selection of health policy stories from Minnesota, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota Health Plans Pile Up Big Reserves
After four straight years of profitable growth, Minnesota's health plans have stockpiled a substantial surplus of cash reserves. The health insurance companies, which get nearly three-quarters of their business from state and federal programs, now have more than $1.9 billion in reserves -- $1.3 billion more than required by state law, according to a review by Twin Cities health care analyst Allan Baumgarten (Crosby, 7/15).

Healthy Cal: California Law Helps Undocumented Immigrants Get Health Care
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal policy that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country at age 16 or younger to remain in the United States on a provisional status. ... But Administration officials also stressed that "DACA-mented" youths won't get federal health insurance benefits, including the extended coverage of the Affordable Care Act when it takes effect next year. That's the rule for most of the country. However in California, immigrants who qualify for DACA might get a break, thanks to a dispute between state officials and the federal government nearly two decades ago (Richard, 7/15).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Health Law Fosters A New Kind Of Business Partnership In Georgia
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, WABE's Jim Burress, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on a new health care partnership in Georgia: "Medical equipment manufacturers operate largely on a 'supply and demand' model: Hospitals buy their multi-million dollar machines, use them for a few years, and then the process starts again. But Philips Healthcare and a hospital system in Georgia are betting on a new business model, one that has risks and rewards for both the hospital and the manufacturer" (Burress, 7/16).

Georgia Health News: Two Major Issues Hang Over Community Health
Legislation to facilitate the renewal of the current provider fee was fast-tracked through the General Assembly earlier this year with the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal. Industry leaders had expected the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to approve the fee before the end of June -- the end of the state's fiscal year. That did not happen (Miller, 7/15).

WBUR/CommonHealth: What's Behind The Wait For Primary Care Physicians (Audio)
Other than your life partner, your primary care doctor may be the most important relationship you'll ever have. But unlike when you're searching for a significant other,  there's no match.com for health care. Information is tough to find and, when you finally do pick one, you can't just meet for a quick coffee to see if your interests align. In fact, you'll probably have to wait months for that very first appointment. Well, just how long Massachusetts residents are waiting for primary care -- and what it means for our health over all -- is outlined in a report released today on patient access to care from the Mass Medical Society (7/15).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Patient Satisfaction Means Bonuses Or Penalties
Patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Northeast Philadelphia get chauffeured trips to the hospital, often in a limousine. …These perks are part of the for-profit hospital's strategy to keep patients happy and avoid government penalties. In fact, the center enjoys patient satisfaction numbers among the best of any hospital in the region (Skinner, 7/14).

California Healthline: Legislature Responds To Critical UC Report
The state's five University of California medical centers -- California's fourth-largest health care delivery system -- are confronting what one state senator calls the most-pressing problem in the age of health reform: a health care provider deficit combined with capacity shortfalls. Legislators, partly in response to a union report criticizing UC health system management, are pressing university officials to respond to allegations that bloated executive pay and misdirected investments have led to bare-bones staffing levels that in some cases jeopardize patient safety (Hart, 7/15).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: Does Your Doctor Favor More Expensive Drugs?; Texas Sen. Wendy Davis Says Abortion Law Threatens 'Health And Safety' Of Women

Los Angeles Times/ProPublica: Inside Doctors' Prescribing Habits
Your doctor hands you a prescription for a blood pressure drug. But is it the right one for you? You're searching for a new primary-care physician or a specialist. Is there a way you can know whether the doctor is more partial to expensive, brand-name drugs than his peers? (Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein, 7/16).

The Washington Post: Why I Stood Up For Texas Women
Texas state leaders have again taken up a partisan effort to impose severe restrictions on the ability of women in our state to receive reproductive and other crucial health-care services. Just a few weeks ago, I spent nearly 13 hours filibustering this bill. I stood up to filibuster the bill because Texas Republican leaders would rather pursue a partisan agenda than help Texas women. I stood to oppose the bill because it rolled back constitutional rights and would reduce the number of women’s health clinics from 42 to 5, thereby threatening the health and safety of thousands of Texas women (Texas State Sen. Wendy R. Davis, 7/15).

The Wall Street Journal: An Obamacare Board Answerable To No One
Signs of Obamacare's failings mount daily, including soaring insurance costs, looming provider shortages and inadequate insurance exchanges. Yet the law's most disturbing feature may be the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, sometimes called a "death panel," threatens both the Medicare program and the Constitution's separation of powers. At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses at the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny (David B. Rivkin Jr. and Elizabeth P. Foley, updated 7/15). 

Arizona Republic: U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema On Immigration, 'Obamacare' (Video)
U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is six months into her term. She recently spoke with The Republic's editorial board on immigration reform, 'Obamacare' -- and bipartisan attempts to salvage both efforts (7/15).

Fox News: Scary Lessons For Americans And Obamacare From UK’s National Health Service
The power of television to shrink the world has always amazed me. Eating lunch on the road to Ft. William, a man at the next table recognizes me and introduces himself. Keith Farrington says he spent 15 years working as an assistant director of finance for the South East Thames Regional Health Authority, part of the National Health Service. He has strong warnings for the U.S. about Obamacare (Cal Thomas, 7/15).

Bangor Daily News: Don't Let Expansion Debate Be Last Word On Medicaid
The attention-grabbing debate over whether Maine should expand eligibility for Medicaid is over for now. But that doesn’t change the fact that Maine's existing Medicaid program still serves more than 300,000 of the state’s low-income, disabled and elderly residents. And it doesn't change the reality that Medicaid continues to account for about a quarter of the state budget. What also remains unchanged is that Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew asked federal officials in March for more flexibility so Maine could manage its Medicaid program, known here as MaineCare, the way it saw fit (7/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Pedaling For A Good Cause—But Why?
I recently went on a 60-mile bicycle ride in the middle of the night. The venture resulted not from an existential crisis but from a charity challenge. By now the genre is familiar: A charity that promotes research into cancer or some other disease sponsors an event requiring feats of physical prowess or endurance. People sign up and seek sponsors, who agree to donate to the charity in exchange for—what, exactly? (Brian M. Carney, 7/15). 

USA Today: ABC Shouldn't Give McCarthy Platform
Vaccine misinformation peddler actress Jenny McCarthy has just been named co-host of the popular ABC day time television show, The View. This is really bad news for America's children. Why? Back in 2007, McCarthy helped stoke the anti-vaccine campaign when she asserted on the Oprah Winfrey show that an MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination caused her son's autism. "I have a very bad feeling about this shot," she claimed she said to her doctor, "This is the autism shot, isn't it?" (Ronald Bailey, 7/15).

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EDITOR:
Stephanie Stapleton

ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
Andrew Villegas

WRITERS:
Ankita Rao
Marissa Evans

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2012 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.