First Edition: May 25, 2010

Today's headlines reflect health policy action at the federal level as the Obama administration issues a warning to the insurance industry about mergers and urges the courts to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit against the health reform law.

Spouses Face Hurdles When Caring For Themselves, Ill Loved Ones
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Paula Span writes: "They met on a blind date in 1949 and married two years later. They lived in the same Cape Cod-style house in Silver Spring for nearly 50 years. So when Leonard Crierie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2005, there was no question that his wife, Betty, would take care of him at home for as long as she could" (Kaiser Health News). Watch the video
 
KHN Consumer Column: Insuring Your Health – College Student Health Plans Often Get Low Marks
In this column, produced in collaboration with The Washington Post, Michelle Andrews writes: "Aaron Smith is learning the hard way that student health insurance has limits. After breaking his wrist snowboarding in 2008 and twisting his knee playing soccer last year, the 28-year-old Georgetown University law student racked up $925.69 in medical bills, his share of the cost under Georgetown's UnitedHealthcare student health plan" (Kaiser Health News).

Georgia Refuses To Establish High Risk Insurance Pools
State officials in Georgia are not happy about the new federal health law. The governor has joined 19 other states that have filed suit to nullify it. And the state insurance commissioner is refusing to set up a high-risk pool to sell health insurance to people with medical problems (NPR).

The New Landscape: Big Gains For Young People In Health Law
After Eric Heininger left his job (and medical insurance) to follow his girlfriend to graduate school in New Haven, he wanted to get a physical, so he volunteered to take part in a medical study. He endured three days of exercise regimens, blood tests and blood pressure checks before he was accepted to the healthy comparison group in the trial. "So I knew I was healthy," he said. But when Mr. Heininger, 24, developed a high fever in March after traveling to Haiti on a relief mission, free care was not so easy to come by (The New York Times).

Govt Warns Health Insurance Industry On Mergers
In a blunt warning to the health insurance industry, the Obama administration said Monday it won't hesitate to block mergers that threaten to stifle competition (The Associated Press).

Obama Administration Asks Judge To Dismiss Virginia Suit Against Health-Care Law
The Obama administration asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss Virginia's challenge of the health-care overhaul law, arguing that the state has no standing to sue over the law and that Congress's power to regulate interstate trade makes the measure constitutional (The Washington Post).

Experts: 'Doc Fix' A Budget Band-Aid
The Medicare "doc fix" is back in play on Capitol Hill, and its mere mention provokes a torrent of scorn and vitriol rarely seen among the generally mild-mannered community of policy mavens who inhabit the nation's think tanks and universities (Politico).

Budget Cuts Dilute Children's Coverage
A federal law that President Obama signed early last year to expand health insurance to 4 million more low-income children has gotten off to a slow start because of budget problems in the states (USA Today).

L.A. Council Panel Backs 37% Hike In Ambulance Fees
A Los Angeles City Council panel backed a proposed ordinance Monday that would raise ambulance fees by 37% starting July 1, the first of several strategies for passing the city's budget woes on to consumers (Los Angeles Times).

The State's Mental Hospitals Are Too Full
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has suspended voluntary admissions to the state’s three hospitals for the mentally ill (Kansas Health Institute).

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