First Edition: July 23, 2010

Today's news coverage includes more details about the Obama administration's new rule on appealing rejections of health insurance claims and a new law to reign in improper government payments.

Recession-Weary Workers, States Still Hope For COBRA And Medicaid Subsidies
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas provides an update on congressional efforts to extend these funds: "Although Congress this week approved an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, two health-related proposals initially linked to the measure – including extensions of COBRA subsidies for unemployed workers and enhanced federal Medicaid contributions for states — have stalled" (Kaiser Health News).

Feds Move To Improve Health Insurance Appeals
The Obama administration took the first step Thursday to guarantee that consumers can appeal to a neutral referee if their health insurance company denies a medical claim (The Associated Press).

Questions And Answers About New Rules On Appealing Rejections Of Health Insurance Claims
For many Americans, few experiences with the healthcare system are more frustrating than a rejected claim from an insurance plan. Rejection notices are often unclear, as are the procedures for challenging them (Los Angeles Times).

Obama Administration Rolls Out New Insurance Appeals Rules
Want to appeal an insurance company’s denial of services or coverage? You now have the right to present your case for independent, outside-of-your-insurance-company review, no matter what state you’re in. The Obama administration today announced the new regulations spelling out the appeals guarantee. Here’s the administration’s fact sheet on the new regs (The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog).

Mediating Malpractice
To cut medical-malpractice costs, five New York City hospitals have agreed to a pilot program to divulge medical mistakes early, offer settlements quickly and use special state "health courts,'' where judges will help negotiate agreements before cases go to trial (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama Signs Legislation To Rein In Improper Government Spending
Hailing it as an example of bipartisan consensus, President Obama on Thursday signed legislation to take on fraudulent and improper government spending that he said diverts money from important priorities. … The majority of improper payments come from Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (Los Angeles Times).

Mental Illness Costing Military Soldiers
The number of soldiers forced to leave the Army solely because of a mental disorder has increased by 64% from 2005 to 2009 and accounts for one in nine medical discharges, according to Army statistics (USA Today).

Funding Woes Overshadow AIDS Conference
Rich countries must give more for the fight against AIDS or risk jeopardizing progress in battling the disease, participants at an international conference urged Thursday (The Associated Press).

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