Daily Health Policy Report

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Last updated: Tue, Sep 10

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform

Capitol Hill Watch

Quality

State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Insuring Your Health: Consumers With Serious Medical Problems Need To Carefully Assess Total Plan Costs

Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "One of the health care overhaul's most far-reaching provisions prohibits health plans from refusing to cover people who are sick or charging them higher premiums. Still, for people with serious medical conditions, the online health insurance marketplaces present new wrinkles that could have significant financial impact" (Andrews, 9/10). Read the column.

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Health Marketplaces Open For Shopping Oct. 1 (Video)

As part of a Kaiser Health News video series, consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question about when a consumer must enroll in an exchange in order to start getting insurance benefits in January, 2014 (9/10). Watch this video and others from this series.

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Checking The Facts Behind Obamacare Claims

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Robert Calandra, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "Lori Robertson has been covering the Affordable Care Act from the earliest debates on it in 2009. A journalist for FactCheck.org, the nonpartisan nonprofit that monitors the accuracy of e-mails, viral claims, and statements by politicians, Robertson researches and writes about many statements involving the ACA. 'We fact-check all sides,' she said. Now is a hectic time for her group, part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, because the law is reaching its climactic phase. Here's a sample of statements and claims FactCheck.org has checked on Obamacare"(Calandra, 9/9). Read the story.

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Texas Outbreaks Make A Case For Vaccinations

The Texas Tribune's Becca Aaronson, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "A measles outbreak in a vaccination-wary North Texas megachurch and soaring rates of whooping cough across the state are drawing renewed calls for immunization legislation, which some lawmakers and medical professionals argue would help the state prevent public health crises" (Aaronson, 9/10). Read the story.

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Capsules: Law Will Shift Demographics For Medicaid, Study Finds; How Will Obamacare Affect Your Medicare Benefits?

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Ankita Rao reports on the changing demographics of Medicaid: "As part of the federal overhaul, some states have opted to expand in January this state-federal health insurance program for low income people to include Americans who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty line (just under $16,000 for an individual in 2013). As a result, the new enrollees will include more white, male and healthy individuals than those eligible before the Affordable Care Act expansion, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine" (Rao, 9/9).

Also on Capsules, watch a video clip of KHN's Mary Agnes Carey on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Monday morning taking questions about how the health law will affect Medicare’s benefits (9/9). Check out what else is on the blog.

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Political Cartoon: 'Excuses, Excuses?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Excuses, Excuses?" by Darrin Bell.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

SO MANY QUESTIONS, SO LITTLE TIME 

October 1st looms.
Consumers just now starting
To pay attention
-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

Covered California 'On Track' To Launch Enrollment Oct. 1

The California state agency implementing the health law said computer tests indicate the website will be ready to go on the launch date. Also in the news, organizations and businesses dig into to efforts to promote enrollment in the overhaul's new online insurance marketplaces, but political battles continue to surround the "navigator" program.

Los Angeles Times: Covered California Says Healthcare-Law Enrollment On Track For Oct. 1
California's new health insurance marketplace says online enrollment should launch Oct. 1, dismissing earlier concerns about a delay. Covered California, the state agency implementing the federal Affordable Care Act, said recent computer tests indicate that its website will be ready to take online sign-ups on schedule (Terhune, 9/9).

Fox News: Communities Race To Hire, Train Experts On Obama's Health Care Reform Plan
Over 100 nonprofits and related organizations, which specialize in everything from running soup kitchens to organizing farm workers, have been recruited by the federal government to sign up "navigators" to help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage. Many of the groups have little expertise in health insurance. And the timeline for training the workers is tight. According to the new health law, people can begin shopping among the new policies on Oct. 1. The enrollment period lasts six months. Coverage begins in January (9/9).

Politico: Rite Aid Joins Promotion Effort For Obamacare
Rite Aid is joining the nationwide Obamacare education effort, announcing on Monday plans to host insurance agents in its stores in a few weeks. The pharmacy chain will invite independent insurance agents into more than 2,000 of its stores to offer free help starting Oct. 1, the first day millions of Americans can enroll in coverage on Obamacare health insurance exchanges. All Rite Aid stores — more than 4,600 across 31 states and Washington, D.C. — will offer informational brochures about the Affordable Care Act, and the company has set up a website to educate customers (Millman, 9/10).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Two Groups Quit Obamacare Outreach Program
In the face of mounting Republican opposition, two organizations have dropped out of a key Obamacare program meant to enroll millions of the uninsured in coverage. Republican legislators in Washington began investigating "navigators," the thousands of outreach workers funded by the health law, who are fanning out across the country to give Americans face-to-face help with signing up for Obamacare's new programs (Kliff, 9/9).

Reuters: Obama Administration Concerned About Republican Obamacare Inquiry
The Obama administration on Monday expressed concerns about a congressional Republican inquiry aimed at nonprofit groups and other organizations that are getting ready to enroll people in subsidized insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform. Less than two weeks ago, a Republican-controlled oversight committee in the House of Representatives sent questions to 51 groups in 11 states that have received $67 million in federal grants to hire and train "navigators" who will help uninsured people apply for health coverage in new online marketplaces beginning October 1 (Morgan, 9/9).

Meanwhile, news from Wisconsin and Minnesota on state implementation -

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Scott Walker Rival Kathleen Falk To Lead Obamacare Startup
Wisconsin consumers need to see the full details on what they'll be paying for the coverage being offered next year under Obamacare, said the new federal official charged with implementing the health care law in the Upper Midwest. Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County executive who unsuccessfully sought to run as a Democrat against Gov. Scott Walker in last year's recall election, will now be working with the GOP governor to implement the federal law (Stein, 9/9).

Minnesota Public Radio: Organizers Trying To Drum Up Support For Affordable Care Act
Anne Jones recently visited the Minneapolis Farmers Market to pass out fliers she hoped would debunk persistent myths about the federal health care overhaul. "We're trying to counter the notion that this is a government takeover of the health care system," said Jones, of Minneapolis, a member of Organizing for Action. The non-profit group, an offshoot of President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, aims to support his national agenda (Richert, 9/9).

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New Medicaid Enrollees Under Health Law More Likely To Be Younger, Healthier

States expanding Medicaid under Obamacare are likely to see more people who are healthier, thinner, white and male, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. Another Health Affairs study finds the expansion could pay for health care for the chronically homeless, thereby saving money for states and local governments.

NPR: How Expansion Will Change The Look Of Medicaid
Starting in January, it will get a lot easier for millions of people across to the country to qualify for Medicaid. Adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 in 2013) will be able to sign up for Medicaid, under an expansion paid for entirely by the federal government between 2014 and 2017 (Hensley, 9/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Law Will Shift Demographics For Medicaid, Study Finds
As part of the federal overhaul, some states have opted to expand this state-federal health insurance program for low-income people in January to include Americans who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty line (just under $16,000 for an individual in 2013). As a result, the new enrollees will include more white, male and healthy individuals than those eligible before the Affordable Care Act expansion, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine (Rao, 9/9).

Reuters: New U.S. Medicaid Enrollees Likely To Be Younger, Healthier: Studies
U.S. states that opt to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) can expect to enroll new patients who are younger, thinner, healthier, less depressed and more likely to be white than those now covered by Medicaid, U.S. researchers said on Monday. The latest findings add to a growing picture of the incoming class of Medicaid enrollees under the ACA, which gives states the option to expand their Medicaid rolls to include previously ineligible low-income adults (Steenhuysen, 9/9).

Medpage Today: Healthier People Signing Up For Medicaid
Those potentially eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion are just as healthy -- if not healthier -- than the current Medicaid population, a second study in less than 3 months found. Potential new beneficiaries report a better health status and are less obese and depressed than current enrollees, according to an analysis published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine. However, rates of diabetes and hypertension aren't significantly lower for these potentially newly eligible individuals, the analysis by Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, and Matthew Davis, MD, both of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found (Pittman, 9/9).

Politico: Medicaid Expansion Could Help Homeless, Save Money, Study Says
States expanding Medicaid under Obamacare may be able to vastly improve health care for the chronically homeless — and save themselves some money. Homeless people have very high rates of uninsurance and they tend to rely on state- or locally funded assistance for their often-formidable health care needs. But according to a new study in the September edition of Health Affairs, many would be eligible for expanded Medicaid and there would be fiscal benefits for the states. The federal government is picking up the full cost of Medicaid expansion through 2016, and will then phase back to 90 percent of the cost (Drusch, 9/9).

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tells health care experts that Medicaid growth is diverting money away from other priorities --

Charleston Post And Courier: Gov. Nikki Haley Talks Rising Health Care Costs At Medicaid Conference In North Charleston
Gov. Nikki Haley told more than 1,000 health care experts Monday in North Charleston that rising health care costs, particularly Medicaid costs, in South Carolina and across the country are diverting money away from other top priorities. “When we look at the growth of Medicaid and of health care costs in general, over the last 40 years, we’re seeing rises that we know we can’t sustain,” Haley said. “It’s crystal clear it’s unsustainable, and if we fail to fundamentally change the system, we will continue to have problems” (Sausser, 9/9).

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The Health Law Could Add An Extra Pinch At Tax Time For Some Consumers

The Wall Street Journal reports that some people who receive government help to buy coverage could find they owe Uncle Sam money at tax time. Meanwhile, a new online poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos examines the question of whether young, unisured people will buy into the health law's new insurance offerings.

Los Angeles Times: Consumers Could Be Surprised At Tax Time Due To Federal Health Law
Some families may end up owing Uncle Sam a sizable refund if they accept government help on buying health insurance next year under President Obama's Affordable Care Act. A study published Monday in Health Affairs estimates that 38% of families that qualify for federal premium subsidies might have to repay some portion if changes in their household income aren't reported to the government (Terhune, 9/9).

Reuters: Insight: Poll Shows Healthy Young Adults May Keep Obamacare Afloat
Korey Kormick, 29, has not had health insurance for at least a decade. His job, as a contract employee directing chess tournaments and coaching kids in the fundamentals of the game, doesn't offer it, and he hasn't been able to afford coverage on the individual market. Feeling medically "invincible" - as the conventional wisdom holds 19-to-34-year-olds do - never had much to do with it (Begley, 9/10).

Minnesota Public Radio: Health Care Reform Success Hinges On 'Young Invincibles'
As health care exchanges roll out Oct. 1, the Obama Administration is on a mission to convince young people to buy health insurance. In a recent poll by Commonwealth Fund, a supporter of healthcare reform, young adults have already been taking advantage of one of the law's provisions that allows people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26 (MPR News, 9/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Cancer Patient Stuck With Higher Bills As Obamacare Pre-Existing Condition Plan Runs Low On Cash
Coping with advanced cancer, Bev Veals was in the hospital for chemo this summer when she got a call that her health plan was shutting down. Then, the substitute insurance she was offered wanted her to pay up to $3,125, on top of premiums. It sounds like one of those insurance horror stories President Barack Obama told to sell his health overhaul to Congress, but Veals wasn’t in the clutches of a profit-driven company. Instead, she's covered by Obama's law — one of about 100,000 people with serious medical issues in a financially troubled government program (9/9).

Reuters: Millions Of Workers Might Dump Employer Plans Under Obamacare: Study
As many as 37 million Americans who receive health coverage through employers may be better off with the government-subsidized insurance plans that will be offered under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law for next year, according to a study released on Monday. The analysis, compiled by researchers at Stanford School of Medicine and published in the journal Health Affairs, suggests that some employees may choose to dump the coverage they receive at work (Begley, 9/9).

Also in the news, investors in hospital companies look to the law's implementation to drive earnings growth -

Reuters: Analysis: Hospital Investors Wary Of Slow Rampup For Obamacare
Investors in U.S. hospital companies are counting on the Obama administration to pull off its national healthcare reform for 2014 to drive earnings growth, but a series of delays to the program has some questioning how strong the launch will be at its start. The stakes are particularly high for hospital operators, whose financial performance has been weighed down by poor and uninsured patients being unable to pay their bills (Krauskopf, 9/9).

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Health Exchanges Will Help Some Retirees Bridge The Medicare Gap

The New York Times reports on how the health law may assist some retired people who do not yet qualify for Medicare obtain affordable health insurance. In addition, Kaiser Health News details how the health law does and does not intersect with Medicare.  

The New York Times: In New Health Law, A Bridge To Medicare
The sweeping federal health care law making its major public debut next month was meant for people like Juanita Stonebraker, 63, from Oakland, Md., who retired from her job in a hospital billing office a year and a half ago. She was able to continue her health insurance coverage from the hospital for a time, but when she tried to find an individual policy on her own, none of the insurers she contacted would cover her because she was diabetic (Abelson, 9/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: How Will Obamacare Affect Your Medicare Benefits?
KHN's Mary Agnes Carey appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Monday morning to take questions about how the health law will affect Medicare’s benefits (9/9).

Meanwhile, in other Medicare news, some small-town hospitals are concerned about how proposed reimbursement cuts could undermine their finances -

The Texas Tribune: Rural Hospitals Wary Of Proposed Medicare Cuts
Small-town hospitals are worried that a federal recommendation to cut costs by re-evaluating which rural hospitals receive higher Medicare reimbursements could threaten their financial security — and even prompt them to shut their doors (Aaronson, 9/10).

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Health Law Fact-Checking And Helpful Hints

News outlets examine claims about the health law, including the "five top myths that refuse to die." They also provide consumer information about the next stage of implementation -- the open enrollment period that begins Oct. 1 for online insurance marketplaces in every state.

Minnesota Public Radio: Top 5 Myths About 'Obamacare' That Refuse To Die
The Affordable Care Act has been on the books for almost three and a half years. But myths about the law persist. Many people are confused about the law because it is big and complicated, said University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs, who has studied and written about Obamacare. But Jacobs also pointed out that people tend to be entrenched in their beliefs about the law so they aren't necessarily trying to inform themselves in ways that would dispel myths (Richert, 9/9).

Philadelphia Inquirer/Kaiser Health News: Checking The Facts Behind Obamacare Claims
Lori Robertson has been covering the Affordable Care Act from the earliest debates on it in 2009. A journalist for FactCheck.org, the nonpartisan nonprofit that monitors the accuracy of e-mails, viral claims, and statements by politicians, Robertson researches and writes about many statements involving the ACA. 'We fact-check all sides,' she said. Now is a hectic time for her group, part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, because the law is reaching its climactic phase. Here's a sample of statements and claims FactCheck.org has checked on Obamacare (Calandra, 9/9).

PBS NewsHour: Will Your Employer Drop Coverage Under Obamacare?
The promise from President Obama was straightforward enough: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away," he said. That was four years ago, during the build-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Today, just months before several major provisions of the law take full-effect, many Americans still aren't sure whether to believe him. And for good reason. Wildly conflicting predictions are being reported almost daily (Kane, 9/9).

The Wall Street Journal: The Health-Care Overhaul: What You Need To Know
Whatever its larger merits or shortcomings, the federal health-care overhaul seems likely to benefit one demographic group in particular: the 50-plus crowd. Starting Oct. 1, state-based health-insurance exchanges created by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will open for business. For those without access to insurance through work, or for the self-employed who have been buying coverage as sole proprietors, the exchanges will serve as clearinghouses for evaluating and buying health plans (Tergesen, 9/8).

CNN: Taxpayer Guide To Obamacare
For individuals and businesses, Obamacare means both new taxes and new tax breaks. A bunch are intended strictly to raise revenue -- for instance, a new tax on medical device makers. But others are designed to encourage certain behaviors, such as the mandate that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty (Sahadi, 9/9).

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Capitol Hill Watch

GOP Readies Plan To Fund Gov't, Force Dems To Vote On Defunding Obamacare

House Republicans are planning to help pass a stopgap measure funding the federal government, but they also plan to force Democrats in the Senate to vote on defunding the health law in the process.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House GOP May Link Debate Of Stopgap Spending Bill With Measure To Defund 'Obamacare'
House Republicans plan to condition a short-term spending bill for averting a government shutdown next month on making Senate Democrats vote on -- but not necessarily pass -- a tea party-backed plan to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The move would be a partial victory for conservatives demanding a House vote to "defund 'Obamacare'" as part of any must-pass stopgap funding bill. But GOP leaders are employing an unusual procedural trick to make sure that the tea party measure doesn't get in the way of smooth passage of a straightforward stopgap funding bill before the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year (Taylor, 9/9).

Bloomberg: House Leaders May Pair Stopgap Funding With Health Vote
House Republican leaders put together a plan to enact a stopgap government funding measure by forcing the Democratic-led Senate to take a largely symbolic vote on defunding President Barack Obama’s health care law. The proposal, which two leadership aides said would be presented to rank-and-file House Republicans today, would allow a short-term U.S. spending measure to be enacted even if the Senate voted not to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act (Tiron and Rowley, 9/10).

The Wall Street Journal: House Republicans Craft Proposal To Avoid Shutdown
House Republicans on Monday prepared a plan to avoid a government shutdown this fall, while giving conservatives a fresh chance to attack President Barack Obama's signature health-care law. The proposal, to be presented to rank-and-file lawmakers as early as Tuesday, is an attempt by GOP leaders to fund government operations until mid-December and meet a key demand of conservative House Republicans, who have wanted to use a must-pass spending bill to take aim at the health care law they continue to oppose (Boles, 9/9).

Politico: House GOP May Reuse Legislative Gambit On Obamacare
House Republicans are dusting off an old legislative gambit from April 2011 as one way to move ahead this week with a stopgap spending bill for the first months of the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The goal is to give conservatives a vote on defunding health care reform without resulting in a government shutdown. It has worked before, but "before" is the operative word. And until Tuesday's Republican Conference, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) won’t really know whether this flash from the past can flash again (Rogers, 9/10).

But consideration of defunding may have to wait while lawmakers consider action against Syria --

Politico: Obamacare Defunding Pushed Aside By Syria
Congress’s curtain came down for summer break with Obamacare defunding center stage. But as the curtain goes back up as lawmakers return, it's Syria -- not defunding -- in the spotlight. At noon Tuesday, some of Obamacare's most ardent foes -- Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah among them -- will hold a Tea Party Patriots-sponsored rally outside the Capitol to try to reignite the defunding enthusiasm. Time is short: Obamacare enrollment starts Oct. 1 (Cunningham, 9/10).

And Heritage Action pushes for Republicans to refuse to vote for any spending authorization that doesn't also defund the health law --

Los Angeles Times: Conservative Group Pushes Its Plan To Cripple Health Care Overhaul
With funding for government operations set to run out at the end of this month, Heritage Action, part of a coalition of conservative lawmakers and outside groups, wants Republicans to refuse to vote for a law that would authorize spending unless it also eliminates money for the health care law, a move that would hobble the Obama administration's efforts to launch Web-based insurance marketplaces Oct. 1 (Memoli, 9/9).

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House To Consider Measure To Hold Obamacare Exchange Subsidies Until Applicants' Income Is Verified

In other news on Capitol Hill: Sen. McConnell's close ties to Humana are examined, the Senate eyes legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration greater oversight of compounding pharmacies, and Republican lawmakers are questioning Obamacare's hiring practices.

CQ HealthBeat: House Will Consider Measure On Verifying Health Exchange Applicant's Health Data
The House is slated to take up legislation this week that targets the health care law’s subsidies that will help individuals buy coverage through the insurance exchanges, in response to an Obama administration rule that Republicans say makes the funds ripe for fraud and abuse. The measure, sponsored by Tennessee Republican Diane Black, would bar the administration from providing the subsidies until the Health and Human Services secretary confirms that a system is in place to verify applicants’ household income and health insurance status (Attias, 9/9).

Politico: Mitch McConnell's Close Ties With Humana Founder
In 2005, David A. Jones Sr., founder of health insurance giant Humana Inc., needed help raising money for a Louisville, Ky., parks project he was personally overseeing. So Jones and then-Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson -- a Democrat -- turned to the most powerful person in Kentucky politics: GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell. They asked McConnell for $10 million in federal funds for the project. Instead, the then-Senate majority whip came through with $38 million in a spending earmark, breaking the good news himself to Jones in a late-night phone call. Jones has also been quite helpful to McConnell; the veteran senator's earmark came several months after it was disclosed that Jones and the charitable foundations he and his family control had donated $1.6 million to the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, which both men attended (Bresnahan and Raju, 9/10).

Roll Call: A Primer On Compounding Pharmacies And Regulation By Congress
Senators hope that they will soon get a chance to quickly pass legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over compounding pharmacies. For months, lawmakers in both chambers have been working on the best way to respond to last year’s fatal fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a contaminated compounded drug (Ethridge, 9/9).

The Hill: Senators Question Obamacare Hiring
A group of Republican senators on Monday questioned why the Obama administration was able to bypass certain hiring guidelines as it staffed up to implement Obamacare. The senators questioned why the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) granted "direct-hire" authority to the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to hire new staff to implement the 2010 healthcare law (Baker, 9/9).

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Quality

New Types Of Choices, Expertise Add Value To Idea Of 'Aging In Place'

The New York Times: Choices Give New Meaning to 'Home, Sweet Home'
Amy Goyer, the home and family expert at AARP, recommends that a geriatric case manager, social worker or other professional analyze the older person's needs to find the best option. AARP and the National Association of Home Builders in 2002 developed "aging in place" certification for home modifications, to teach contractors how to adapt homes. Among typical improvements are widened doorways for wheelchair access and safety features like grab bars in bathrooms (Hawthorne, 9/9).

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State Watch

State Highlights: Texas Gov. Perry Touts Tort Reform; Calif. Lawmakers Want To Pass 100 Bills Per Day

A selection of health policy stories from Texas and California.

The Texas Tribune/Kaiser Health News: Texas Outbreaks Make A Case For Vaccinations
A measles outbreak in a vaccination-wary North Texas megachurch and soaring rates of whooping cough across the state are drawing renewed calls for immunization legislation, which some lawmakers and medical professionals argue would help the state prevent public health crises (Aaronson, 9/10).

The Associated Press: Perry Touts Effects Of Tort Reform On Doctors
Gov. Rick Perry chose a South Texas county that he said had been at the epicenter of the medical malpractice lawsuit "crisis" to commemorate the 10th anniversary of legislation capping how much juries could award plaintiffs. Speaking at the doctor-owned Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on Monday, Perry said the changes, commonly known as tort reform, expanded access to health care and made Texas an attractive destination for physicians (Sherman, 9/9).

California Healthline: Lawmakers Shooting For 100 Bills A Day
The Senate last week passed a bill to require coverage of fertility therapy for younger cancer patients, one of several health-related bills sent to the governor. Friday's floor votes were just a preamble to the work in the Legislature coming up this week, according to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). The Senate President pro Tem said lawmakers will have about 500 bills to pass before the current session ends Friday. "That means we have to go through about 100 bills a day, on average," Steinberg said. "We've done that and more in a day” (Gorn, 9/9).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: Dropping Retirees From Health Plans Is All About Accounting; Pa. Gov. Seems To Be 'Softening' Position On Medicaid Expansion

Bloomberg: Big Blue Punts Its Retirees To Medicare
IBM has announced that it's dumping its retiree health benefits onto the exchanges. Not the Obamacare exchanges, but a Medicare exchange. Medicare-eligible retirees will no longer be eligible for IBM's company health plan; instead they'll get a subsidy to buy supplementary Medicare coverage. Presumably, IBM being IBM, this will allow them to buy some pretty generous coverage that leaves them with relatively small out-of-pocket costs. ... This is the continuation of a trend (Time Warner Inc. announced a similar move yesterday, as did General Electric Co. last year), and though my first instinct when I saw the headline was to assume that this had something to do with Obamacare, in fact, it's a story about accounting (Megan McArdle, 9/9).

MinnPost: Obamacare Is The Worst New-Product Rollout In Memory
Obamacare is giving marketing a bad name. Regardless of what you think about the merits of the health care reform, there's no doubt that it's been the worst new-product rollout in memory (John Reinan, 9/9).

The Annals Of Family Medicine: The Affordable Care Act: Unprecedented Opportunities For Family Physicians And Public Health
Lost in the cacophony of ACA partisan rhetoric is that the costs of caring for the uninsured already accrue to our health system. That's why we pay more than twice what any other country pays per capita for health care, yet many of our population outcomes are worse. Covering the uninsured improves health outcomes and eliminates the regressive taxes of uninsured cost shifting. Family physicians, whatever their party affiliation, can help policy makers understand how ACA implementation will play out in communities. The ACA covers one-half of the nation's uninsured. I'm for that! I'll lean whichever way gets us through the door. We could try what my dad did in our house with 7 children and only 5 rooms. He removed all of the doors (Dr. Daniel J. Derksen, 9/9).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Corbett-Care: The Governor Appears To Be Rethinking Medicaid
A signal that the Corbett administration may be softening its position on Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction of helping low-income working Pennsylvanians. Administration officials plan to spend this week talking with state legislators about options for expansion in the context of broader changes for the existing Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage for poor families (9/10). 

Fox News: America, We Must Stop Obamacare Before It Becomes Hazardous To Our Health
New York's famous 42nd Street will offer natives and visitors a new sight later this week: a mammoth, six-story billboard with a striking message: "Warning—Obamacare may be hazardous to your health." It's part of The Heritage Foundation's continuing public education campaign to inform the American people about the dangerous side-effects of this unfair, unaffordable and unworkable law, and how it can be stopped (Jim DeMint, 9/10). 

Dallas News: New Taxes Coming In Health Insurance Premiums
Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, millions of uninsured Americans will be able to get health insurance regardless of their medical history. To make it affordable, the federal government will supply tax credits. To pay for it, however, a variety of taxes and fees were included in the law. Three are fees on health insurance companies (Jim Landers, 9/9).

Bloomberg: The Cost Of Training Doctors Offshore
U.S. tax dollars are financing for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean that are not accredited in the U.S., Janet Lorin reports in the October issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, putting taxpayers, students and patients at risk. The U.S. may face a doctor shortage, but this isn't the way to fix it. Thanks to a legal loophole, three schools -- American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten and Ross University in Dominica, both owned by DeVry Inc. (DV), and privately owned St. George's University in Grenada -- received about $450 million last year in federal student loans, despite lacking the same certification as U.S. medical schools (9/10).

Los Angeles Times: Jenny McCarthy On 'The View': Trust doctors, Not Stars, On Vaccines
Those watching Jenny McCarthy's debut on ABC's "The View" this morning should keep in mind one thing: She's not qualified in the least to give you advice on vaccinating your children. McCarthy, the model and TV personality who moonlights as the anti-vaccine movement's most influential (read: dangerous) voice, sells plenty of books, speaks passionately about parenting and cracks off-color jokes. She also peddles the discredited, poisonous claims that the way we vaccinate our children against the diseases that were once regular killers of children places our young ones at greater risk of developing autism -- the kind of conspiracy theorizing that will draw only more eyeballs (Paul Thornton, 9/9).

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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.