First Edition: April 1, 2011

Today's health policy news coverage helps fill in the details of the much-anticipated rule for accountable care organizations, which was released yesterday by the Obama administration. 

Kaiser Health News: New ACO Rules Outline Gains And Risks For Doctors, Hospitals
Kaiser Health News staff writers Jordan Rau, Phil Galewitz and Bara Vaida report: "Doctors and hospitals that join together under a new model of care could pocket as much as 60 percent of the money they save Medicare but could also face hefty penalties if they fell short under rules proposed Thursday by the Obama administration" (Rau, Galewitz and Vaida, 3/31).

Kaiser Health News Video: Understanding The New HHS ACO Rule
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau  explains how the Obama administration envisions accountable care organizations, which are designed to help hospitals and doctors form new networks to coordinate patients’ care (3/31). Read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Accountable Care Organization Proposed Regulations: Resources
Kaiser Health News provides readers with a resource page feature with detailed information about the ACO rule, including the rule itself and a number of Department of Health and Human Services fact sheets (3/31).

The New York Times: Standards Set For Joint Ventures To Improve Health Care
The Obama administration proposed long-awaited regulations on Thursday encouraging doctors and hospitals to band together, coordinate care and cut costs (Pear, 4/1).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Offers Rules For Delivering Care To Older Americans
The Obama administration proposed rules Thursday for using the influential Medicare program to spur a controversial form of managed care emerging around the country that nudges doctors and hospitals to save money by coordinating treatment for their patients (Goldstein, 3/31).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Proposes Rules For Healthcare Partnerships
The Obama administration proposed new regulations Thursday to encourage doctors and hospitals to collaborate more closely to improve patient care, a major goal of the sweeping healthcare law the president signed last year (Levey, 3/31).

USA Today: Federal Plan Would Streamline Medicare
Health and Human Services proposed new regulations Thursday that it hopes will reduce Medicare costs and improve care by focusing funds on prevention and quality, rather than the number of times a patient sees a doctor (Kennedy, 4/1).

Politico: Reform Regulations Fire Up Health Debate
The Senate wrapped up its work Thursday without repealing the hated paperwork requirement of the health care law. Again. But the long-delayed accountable-care-organization regulation finally came out — providing details on a part of the law with the potential to thoroughly transform care delivery. Just about everyone in Washington who deals with health care policy is reading through the 429-page proposed rule on how to set up ACOs (Nather, 4/1).

The Washington Post: Business Leaders, Economists Push For Deficit Cut
On Thursday, a powerful group of leaders in the business, academic and economic communities sent letters to the White House and Capitol Hill urging policymakers to work together to reduce the deficit by overhauling government retirement programs and an inefficient federal tax code (Montgomery, 4/1).

The Associated Press/USA Today: Fidelity: Health Care Overhaul Will Cut Retiree Health Costs
For the first time in 10 years, the outlook is improving for new retirees wondering whether they’ll be able to pay their medical bills (Jewell, 4/1).

Politico: Health Care Reform Program Goes Broke Early
The health reform law's Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is so popular it's going to have to retire — early. One of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular programs will no longer accept applications after April 30, according to a CMS memo to congressional staff obtained by POLITICO Thursday (Haberkorn, 3/31).

NPR: At-Risk Federal Funds Cover Far More Than The Pill
In places like Unity Health Care's Upper Cardozo clinic in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., doctors, nurses and other health care providers are too busy treating patients to focus on the fights happening across town. They're just hoping that a final deal does not eliminate all funding for the Title X Family Planning Program (known in the business as "Title Ten"). The bill passed by the House in February would do exactly that. It marked the first time either chamber has voted to cancel funding for the program since it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act (Rovner, 4/1).

Politico: Newt Gingrich's Rx: Cuts, But Not At NIH
Newtcare, here we come. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hates President Obama's new health care law and he's got his own plan to replace it, one that relies heavily on several controversial cost savings approaches (Nocera, 3/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer, Glaxo Disclose Fees To U.S. Doctors
Pfizer Inc. paid $177 million and GlaxoSmithKline PLC paid $85 million during 2010 to U.S. doctors and institutions for their work on clinical trials, consulting, speaking and other items, the companies disclosed Thursday. They were the latest disclosures in a trend toward more transparency by drug makers, which have been criticized for using payments to doctors to unduly influence prescribing patterns, or to promote unauthorized uses of drugs (Loftus, 3/31).

The New York Times: Asking Kidney Patients To Forgo A Free Lifeline
Of all the terrible chronic diseases, only one —end-stage kidney disease — gets special treatment by the federal government. A law passed by Congress 39 years ago provides nearly free care to almost all patients whose kidneys have failed, regardless of their age or ability to pay. But the law has had unintended consequences, kidney experts say (Kolata, 3/31).

The New York Times: U.S. Panel Suggests Research Into Causes And Prevalence Of Health Issues Facing Gays
The federal government should systematically collect demographic data on gay, lesbian and transgender people and should conduct biomedical research to understand why they are more likely to have certain chronic conditions, the National Academy of Sciences said Thursday (Pear, 3/31).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Arizona Governor Proposes Restoring Funds For Medicaid Coverage Of Transplants
Brewer announced the change Thursday as part of a major revamp of the state’s Medicaid program. The plan, which includes enrollment freezes, would help save a projected $500 million to help close a $1.1 billion shortfall in the state’s overall budget (3/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Arizona Proposes Medicaid Fat Fee
Arizona's governor on Thursday proposed levying a $50 fee on some enrollees in the state's cash-starved Medicaid program, including obese people who don't follow a doctor-supervised slimming regimen and smokers (Adamy, 4/1).

The Washington Post: McDonnell Adds Abortion Restriction To Insurance-Exchange Legislation
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has added an amendment restricting insurance coverage for abortion into a bill approved by the General Assembly establishing a health insurance exchange as part of the federal health-care overhaul (Helderman, 3/31).

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Child-Only Insurance Vanishes, A Health Act Victim
Insurers in Texas and across the nation — protesting a provision of the 2010 federal health care overhaul that prohibits pre-existing condition limitations for children under 19, have simply stopped offering new child-only policies. For children being raised by their grandparents, who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid and have no employer-offered insurance or family plans to cover them, there are few options (Ramshaw, 3/31).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.