First Edition: June 23, 2010

Today's health policy headlines focus on President Obama's Tuesday meeting with health insurance executives and the administration's new version of the "Patient's Bill of Rights."

How New Health Insurance Regulations Could Affect Some Premiums, Coverage
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "As he trumpeted what he called a new 'Patient's Bill of Rights' Tuesday, President Barack Obama tried to calm fears that the new health law would increase insurance costs. The details of the law's potential impact came in the 196 pages of new regulations simultaneously released by the federal departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services detailing how Americans could be affected by some of the law's provisions that take effect in September" (Kaiser Health News).

Federal Health Care Site Coming July 1
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with USA Today, writes about the soon-to-be launched federal health care site. "Wish finding health insurance were as easy as shopping for an airline ticket? A federal government website that starts July 1 takes a step in that direction. The site, for the first time, will give consumers a list of all private and government health care plans for individuals and small businesses in their areas" (USA Today).

Obama Says Health Law Shouldn’t Be Excuse To Raise Rates
President Obama, whose vilification of insurers helped push a landmark health care overhaul through Congress, warned industry executives at the White House on Tuesday not to use the bill "as an opportunity to enact unjustifiable rate increases that don’t boost care and inflate their bottom line" (The New York Times).

Obama Warns Insurance Companies Not To Unnecessarily Raise Costs
President Obama met with the chief executives of more than a dozen major insurance companies at the White House on Tuesday to caution them against using new requirements in the recently enacted health-care reform legislation as a pretext to substantially raise premiums (The Washington Post).

Obama Tangles With Insurance Executives Over Rates
President Barack Obama told health-insurance executives they should keep a lid on big rate increases, but the executives said some rises were unavoidable because the new health law requires them to offer better benefits (The Wall Street Journal).

Obama Proposes Interim Health Protections
The Obama administration issued a series of proposed regulations Tuesday that would provide interim protections for Americans until the healthcare insurance market is more fully overhauled in 2014 (Los Angeles Times).

President Obama Tussles With Health Insurers
President Barack Obama and other administration officials tussled with health insurers over rate increases at a White House meeting Tuesday — cautioning executives to be prudent with premium hikes, while publicly touting new regulations meant to curb some of insurers’ worst practices (Politico). 

Obama Dismisses Health-Care Reform Repeal: 'I Refuse To Go Back'
Health-care reform has been the law of the land for three months. Yet President Obama continues to promote his signature piece of domestic legislation so vigorously you’d almost think its fate was still in doubt (The Christian Science Monitor).

Medicaid's Ticking Time Bomb
A new study claims the costs of Medicaid's long-term care services could cripple states' already-fragile budgets. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions study, "Medicaid Long-Term Care: The Ticking Time Bomb," runs through worst and best-case scenarios: the best being that Medicaid costs as a percentage of state budgets will nearly double by 2030, from the current 20 percent to 35 percent in some states. The worst? These costs will nearly triple, rising to 50 percent of the operating budget in one state — with long-term care accounting for 25 percent of that. "Obviously, this is not sustainable," write the authors (The Fiscal Times).

States Face Pinch As Stimulus Ebbs
Of immediate concern to states is the hit they will take if Congress doesn't approve an additional $24 billion to help defray the cost of Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor. Cost concerns prompted the House to jettison the Medicaid funding this month, and the Senate also is considering stripping out the provision (The Wall Street Journal).

Senate Talks On Tax Package Focus On Medicaid Payments To States
Senate Democrats and Republicans are focused on gradually phasing out increased federal Medicaid payments to states to reach a deal on a tax extenders package (The Hill).

Firms Find Changing Insurance Is Trickier
Many small-business owners are caught in a bind created by the federal health-care overhaul that has made choosing health-insurance plans for their workers a trickier calculation (The Wall Street Journal).

Predicting An End To Roe V. Wade
Former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger predicted Tuesday night that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that gives women abortion rights (Politico). 

Oil Spill Provokes Questions On Human Health Effects
Medical researchers are meeting this week in New Orleans to discuss the health effects of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But most of the discussion is about what's NOT known (NPR).

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