Ahead Of Big Reforms, Health Care Marketplace Feels Slowdown

Reuters reports a softening in demand for hospital chains and device makers, among others. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials warn of insurance scams that play on confusion over the health care overhaul.

Reuters: Analysis: Ahead Of Reform, Medical Care Slowdown Hits Companies
As the clock ticks down to the start of a U.S. healthcare overhaul, companies from device makers to hospital chains have been surprised to see Americans make even fewer trips to the doctor's office. Use of non-emergency medical services has been weak for several years in the wake of a deep recession, high joblessness and the steadily rising cost of care (Berkrot, 4/22).

Kaiser Health News: Seniors Get Hung Up In Health Care Scams
Law enforcement agencies are reporting an increase in these sorts of health insurance scams across the country. Many of the fraudsters seem to be preying on the public's confusion over the massive changes taking place in the nation's health care system (Gold, 4/22).

Medscape: Push To Keep ACA Guidelines Out Of Malpractice Cases
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is accelerating the switch from fee-for-service reimbursement to pay-for-performance, and organized medicine is worried about the medical liability implications. What if a physician scores poorly on ACA-driven performance measures regarding his or her care for patients with diabetes, for example? Do low grades give those patients sufficient grounds to sue the physician for malpractice? … Not in Georgia, at least, under a bill passed earlier this month by the state legislature and awaiting the signature of Governor Nathan Deal (Lowes, 4/19).

The Hill: Obama Administration Inks $8M PR Contract To Promote Health Law
The Obama administration has signed a new contract with a public relations firm to promote the central piece of ObamaCare. The agency charged with implementing most of the healthcare law has signed a new contract with the firm Weber Shandwick (Baker, 4/19).

Also, an examination of how the health law and immigration reform proposals could potentially interact -

The Wall Street Journal: Bill Bars Health-Care Cost Assistance For Immigrants
Immigrant advocates are upset with a health-care provision of the immigration-overhaul legislation that could force certain immigrants to pay a fee for lacking insurance coverage while excluding them from financial help to buy it. The wrinkle could create the first class of Americans who would face the 2010 Affordable Care Act's penalties without having access to its main benefit. If passed into law, the immigration changes would apply to many of the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who would have "provisional" status for a decade before becoming eligible for green cards (Radnofsky, 4/19).

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