First Edition: September 22, 2011

In today's headlines, reports that young adults are making gains in health coverage rates.

Kaiser Health News: Companies Steering Workers To Lower Priced Medical Care
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "Sarah Gardner wants her company's employees to be savvy medical shoppers. So this year, she rolled out a plan that sets limits on how much the company will pay toward a range of tests and procedures, from MRIs to hysterectomies. Workers at Buffalo-based Prodigy Health now know to call their employee insurance plan to find a list of local doctors and facilities that meet the price. Or they can choose to go to a higher-price center elsewhere in the insurer’s network and pay the difference themselves" (Appleby, 9/21).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: $125B In Savings Possible From Coordinating Care; Nearly 1 Million Young Adults Get Insurance Under Health Law
Now on the blog, Marilyn Werber Serafini reports on coordinating care for dual eligibles: “The federal government could save $125 billion over ten years by requiring all people who get both Medicare and Medicaid – dual eligibles – to enroll in team-based coordinated care programs, according to a report written by Emory University’s Kenneth Thorpe and funded by America's Health Insurance Plans. States could save $34 billion, and the savings would be less at both the federal and state level if dual eligibles were allowed to opt out, Thorpe wrote." Also on the Capsules, Phil Galewitz writes: "Nearly 1 million young adults have gained health coverage this year following the passage of the health overhaul law, which lets them stay on their parents' insurance up to age 26, according to a federal report." Check out the blog.

Los Angeles Times: AARP To 'Supercommittee': Hands Off Social Security And Medicare
AARP,  which lobbies on behalf of seniors, has launched a television campaign designed to persuade members of the congressional "super committee" charged with finding $1.5 trillion worth of deficit reduction to leave Social Security and Medicare alone (Muskal, 9/21).

The New York Times: Lobbyists Line Up To Sway Special Committee
As lobbyists and executives in education, agriculture, social services and other areas game out the possibilities, some say their sectors could conceivably be better off, and the sting of cutbacks less painful, if the automatic cuts take effect. … Real estate insiders want to preserve mortgage interest deductions for higher-priced residences and second homes. Pharmacies oppose cuts in medical reimbursements. And advocates for the elderly want to protect Social Security and Medicare (Lichtblau, 9/21).

The New York Times: Young Adults Make Gains In Health Insurance Coverage
Three new surveys, including two released on Wednesday, show that adults under 26 made significant and unique gains in insurance coverage in 2010 and the first half of 2011. One of them, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 900,000 fewer uninsured adults in the 19-to-25 age bracket than in 2010 (Sack, 9/21).

Los Angeles Times: Coverage Rises As Young Adults Take Advantage Of Obama Law
As many as a million young adults have signed up for health insurance in the last year, new data indicate, suggesting an early benefit of the healthcare law President Obama signed last year (Levey, 9/21).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Young Adults With Health Insurance Up By About A Million; Obama's Big 2010 Overhaul Credited
At least one part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has proven popular. With the economy sputtering, the number of young adults covered by health insurance grew by about a million as families flocked to take advantage of a new benefit in the law. Two surveys released Wednesday — one by the government, another by Gallup — found significantly fewer young adults going without coverage even as the overall number of uninsured remained high (9/21).

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: Health Law Means Fewer Young Adults Go Without Insurance
Data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between ages 19 and 25 without health insurance fell 3.5 percentage points — to 30.4%. That translates to about an additional 1 million people that got coverage from the previous year. It’s the third survey in recent weeks to credit a piece of the health law with giving more young adults insurance (Census Bureau data and a Gallup poll were the other sources). Researchers say the cause is a provision that, starting last year, allowed young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan until their 26th birthday (Adamy, 9/21).

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Firms Expect Healthcare Costs To Rise At Lowest Rate Since 1997
Healthcare expenses for U.S. employers are expected to increase next year at the lowest rate in more than a decade, but the cost of benefits for workers is likely to outpace the growth of their earnings, a national survey has found. Companies expect their bills for health benefits to rise 5.4% on average next year, the smallest increase since 1997, according to preliminary results from a survey of nearly 1,600 employers by benefits consulting firm Mercer (Helfand, 9/22).

The New York Times: Lawmaker From Nevada Faces Inquiry On Ethics
In 2008 Ms. Berkley helped lead an effort to block a move by federal regulators to close Nevada’s only kidney transplant center, which her husband’s medical practice helps run under a $738,000-a-year contract. She also successfully pushed regulators, as recently as March, to reverse a plan to cut Medicare reimbursement to dialysis centers, including the dozen her husband’s medical practice owns. She did this at the urging of a coalition of kidney-care industry players that included a trade association for doctors that her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, has helped run for the past six years (Lipton, 9/21).

The New York Times: $5 Million To End Suits Over Death Of 13-Year-Old Boy In State Care
The State of New York has agreed to pay $5 million to settle two civil suits brought by the family of a boy with autism who died in state care, among the larger wrongful-death settlements ever paid by the state (Hakim, 9/21).

Chicago Tribune: New U. Of C. Institute Aims To Improve Doctor-Patient Relationship
The University of Chicago Medical Center will receive a $42 million gift to create a teaching institute designed to improve communications between doctors and their patients. … The new institute aims to improve patient care by improving communication between doctors and their patients. In polls and studies, patients often complain that their physicians ignore their concerns (9/22).

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