First Edition: July 24, 2013

Today's headlines include reports about efforts to both advance and undo the health law's implementation.

Kaiser Health News: Deciphering The Health Law's Subsidies For Premiums
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby talks with Cathy Livingston, a partner with Jones Day in Washington, D.C., who specializes in tax issues involving the federal health law, about how to find out if you’re eligible for a premium subsidy and how the process will work (Appleby, 7/24). Read the interview

Kaiser Health News: Florida Providers Jump On ACO Bandwagon
The Miami Herald's Daniel Chang, reporting as part of a partnership between Kaiser Health News and the Herald, writes: "In concept, the coordinated medical care that Rivera receives is nothing new, containing some of the familiar components of traditional health maintenance organizations, such as reducing unneeded medical procedures and careful selection of providers who will work for pre-negotiated rates. But Rivera’s doctor belongs to a group that has applied to become an accountable care organization or ACO — a creation of the Affordable Care Act that policy makers say will improve the quality of medical care and lower costs by financially rewarding providers who can demonstrate that they keep their patients healthy at less expense" (Chang, 7/24). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study: Doctors Look To Others To Curb Health Costs; State Budget Officials In Alaska For Annual Gathering
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Alvin Tran reports on a new study about how physicians view efforts to curb health costs: "When it comes to controlling the country’s health care costs, doctors point their fingers at lawyers, insurance companies, drug makers and hospitals. But well over half acknowledge they have at least some responsibility as stewards of health care resources" (Tran, 7/23).

Also on Capsules, Phil Galewitz reports on the state budget officials' Alaska meeting: "The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) – representing the state officials who count the pennies and balance the accounts — is having its annual meeting this week in Anchorage. The implementation of federal health law known as Obamacare is a big item on the agenda, including a discussion about states’ costs to expand Medicaid and to shift the program to managed care. Budget chiefs from Maryland and Florida, two states moving in opposite directions on the law, will talk about Medicaid expansion" (Galewitz, 7/23). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: Legacy On Line In Fierce Drive On Health Law
The message is clear. Few things are more important to the White House this year than a successful health care rollout on Oct. 1, when millions of uninsured Americans will be required to obtain private health coverage in government-run marketplaces. Getting it right — or wrong — will help determine Mr. Obama's place in history (Shear, 7/23).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Law Is Tied to New Caps On Work Hours For Part-Timers
This month, the Obama administration delayed the employer insurance requirement until January 2015. But Virginia, like some other employers around the country that capped part-timers’ hours in anticipation of the initial deadline, has no plans to abandon its new 29-hour-a-week limit (Somashekhar, 7/23).

The New York Times: House G.O.P. Sets New Offensive On Obama Goals
Congressional Republicans are moving to gut many of President Obama's top priorities with the sharpest spending cuts in a generation and a new push to hold government financing hostage unless the president's signature health care law is stripped of money this fall (Weisman, 7/23).

Politico: GOP Gauges Obamacare Views In Swing Districts
Republicans are eyeing congressional swing districts President Barack Obama narrowly won last year for signs that the unpopularity of Obamacare could help them unseat House Democrats in 2014. Polls conducted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and released to POLITICO show that nearly half of voters in two swing districts Obama carried in 2012 — Minnesota's 8th and New Hampshire's 1st — expect the Affordable Care Act to diminish the quality of their health care (Cunningham, 7/24).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Michelle Obama Asks Latino Activists To Help Sign Up Millions For Health Care Program
Michelle Obama urged Latino activists on Tuesday to help sign people up for her husband's health care overhaul, especially the millions of younger, healthier people the system will need to offset the cost of caring for older, sicker consumers. The first lady said that, starting July 31, consumers can create an account at www.healthcare.gov , or www.cuidadodesalud.gov , its Spanish-language equivalent, so they can get ready to sign up for health insurance in the fall, starting on Oct. 1 (7/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Virginia Near Bottom In Per Capita Spending To Promote Awareness Of Health Care Law
Only one state will spend less per capita than Virginia to promote public awareness of the new health care reform law. According to data compiled by The Associated Press from federal and state sources, the $3.9 million in outreach spending in Virginia amounts to 49 cents per resident. Only Wisconsin, at 46 cents, is spending less per capita (7/24).

The Washington Post: Bill Aims To Reshape Medical Pricing
A bipartisan group of legislators has drafted a bill that would reshape the way the nation pays doctors, responding to criticism that the nation’s current method of valuing medical procedures misprices payments. The pricing system, which is used by Medicare and most private insurers, depends upon assessments made by the American Medical Association, the chief lobbying group for physicians. In confidential meetings held every year, the AMA assigns values to thousands of services doctors provide (Whoriskey, 7/23).

Los Angeles Times: Are Doctors Passing The Buck On Healthcare Costs?
Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Jon C. Tilburt and colleagues polled 2,556 doctors on healthcare costs in 2012, asking them to gauge their level of responsibility for controlling costs -- as well as others' responsibility. More than half of respondents said that trial lawyers, health insurance companies, hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and patients had a major responsibility for cutting costs. But only 36% said that physicians themselves had major responsibility (Brown, 7/23).

The Washington Post: D.C. Officials Agree To Plan To Settle D.C. Chartered Finances
District officials have agreed to pay $48 million to settle the accounts of D.C. Chartered Health Plan, the once-prominent Medicaid contractor that unraveled over the past year amid financial stress and allegations of its owner's involvement in political corruption (DeBonis, 7/23).

The New York Times: Ending Long Battle, Cuomo Agrees To Plan To House Mentally Ill
The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed on Tuesday to give 4,000 mentally ill people who have been kept in institutional homes in New York City the opportunity to move into their own subsidized apartments, settling a contentious legal battle over the care for such patients that dragged on for a decade (Secret, 7/23).
 

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