First Edition: July 9, 2010

Today's health policy headlines include news about some little-known health reform provisions and how the Obama administration is using technology to help consumers navigate changes resulting from the health overhaul.

Seven Health Care Changes You Might Have Missed
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Andrew Villegas explore some lesser-known provisions of the new health overhaul that will take effect in coming months. "These provisions include eliminating patients' co-payments for certain preventive services such as mammograms, giving the government more power to review health insurers' premium increases and allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults without children. While these changes might not have gotten at lot of attention, they could help build support for the law in the run-up to the contentious mid-term elections" (Kaiser Health News).

Obama's Health Website Uses Twitter, YouTube To Help Navigate Benefits
HealthCare.gov is the U.S. government's effort to help consumers understand how they'll be affected by the 907-page health overhaul signed into law three months ago (Bloomberg).

Second Round Of Medicare Rebates Sent
The Obama administration is sending $250 checks to more than 300,000 older Americans who paid higher drug costs in the Medicare coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole," officials announced Thursday (The New York Times).

GOP Says Obama Avoiding Questions About CMS Head's Ties To Industry
A Republican memo charges the Obama administration with avoiding questions about its new head of Medicare’s ties to the healthcare industry (The Hill).

U.S. To Provide $25 Million To Help Buy AIDS Drugs
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Thursday that she would provide $25 million more to help states buy life-saving medications for people with H.I.V. or AIDS (The New York Times).

Generic Drug Policies Could Save $100M Nationally, Study Says
When blockbuster drugs lose their patent protection, state Medicaid programs can save millions of dollars by switching patients to cheaper, generic versions of the medications. But prescription policies vary across the country, with some states mandating that generic drugs be substituted whenever possible while others require that patients give their consent before changing from a brand-name drug to its generic equivalent (The Boston Globe).

New RNs Find Job Market Tight
Even as a national nursing shortage looms, many newly graduated registered nurses can't find jobs because the economic downturn has delayed retirement of experienced nurses, regulators and health care associations say (USA Today).

District Might Get Back In Hospital Business To Keep United Medical Center Alive
The District might, by noon Friday, once again be in the hospital business, fewer than 10 years after it thought it was out for good. After the failure of Specialty Hospitals of America to bring UMC into the black, an auction has been set, and the city doesn't expect any bidders (The Washington Post).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.