First Edition: December 22, 2010

Today's headlines include a number of reports regarding a new proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services that will require insurers to justify large premium hikes.

Kaiser Health News Video: Q & A With Michelle Andrews: Seeking Health Coverage When Traditional Coverage Is Out Of Reach
In this KHN video project, Michelle Andrews a consumer question about options for seeking health coverage (12/22).

KHN Column: No Outrage, No Story In Dead Patients
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Michael Millenson writes: "A good story involves drama and conflict. A federal judge with Republican ties nixing a Democratic president's signature achievement in ensuring access to care for all is a great story. One, two, even three reports about hospitals avoidably (if inadvertently) killing tens of thousands of Americans annually once they have the insurance that ensures them access to care apparently has little, if any, drama at all" (12/22).

The New York Times: Health Insurers To Be Required To Justify Rate Increases Over 10 Percent
In a move to protect consumers, the Obama administration said Tuesday that it would require health insurance companies to disclose and justify any rate increases of 10 percent or more next year (Pear, 12/21).

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurers May Have To Justify Large Premium Hikes
Moving to restrain skyrocketing health insurance premiums, the Obama administration is proposing rules requiring insurers to justify increases of more than 10% a year in 2011. At the same time, administration officials plan to step up federal review of premiums if state regulators cannot adequately protect consumers, a move cheered by many leading consumer advocates (Levey, 12/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Insurer Rate Hikes Face Fresh Federal Scrutiny
Health insurers that raise premiums 10% or more next year will face new regulatory scrutiny, the Obama administration said Tuesday, in its latest effort to show its health overhaul is helping tame rapidly rising rates (Adamy, 12/22).

The Washington Post: Proposed Health Insurance Rules Aimed At Curbing Unnecessary Rate Hikes
The Obama administration announced proposed rules Tuesday aimed at curbing large, unwarranted rate hikes by health insurers by subjecting them to mandatory public scrutiny (Aizenman, 12/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Passes Stopgap-Funding Bill
The measure passed by Congress doesn't contain money the Obama administration wanted to ramp up enforcement of new regulations for the financial services industry and to lay the groundwork for the national health care law. Republicans have said they will try to cut off funding to the health law to prevent its implementation (Boles and Vaughan, 12/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Confidentiality Cloaks Medicare Abuse
There's something else about Dr. Wayne that doesn't resemble a normal family-practice doctor: his earnings from Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Dr. Wayne took in more than $1.2 million from Medicare in 2008, according to a person familiar with the matter, a large portion of it from physical therapy. That's more than 24 times the Medicare income of the average family doctor, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Medicare-claims data (Schoofs and Tamman, 12/22).

Los Angeles Times: House Approves Food Safety Bill
The House on Tuesday gave final approval to a landmark food safety bill designed to update the system for protecting the nation's food supply and equip the Food and Drug Administration with the tools needed to monitor a complex supply chain that stretches around the world. But the historic effort may run into trouble next year over an old problem — money. The current bill does not establish a secure funding system, and Republicans, who will soon have control of the House and expanded numbers in the Senate, have made cutting government spending a high priority (Zajac, 12/22).

The Washington Post: Governor's Committee Finds Virginia Health Care 'Mediocre'
A committee advising Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on issues surrounding health reform concludes that health-care delivery in Virginia is currently only "mediocre" and lags behind other states with much lower income levels (Helderman, 12/21).

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