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Health Insurance News

Federal Health Care Reform - Impacts on Employers

Monday 12 April 2010 at 4:04 pm The newly enacted federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Act”)1 makes significant
changes to the health and other benefits that employers offer to their employees. Additionally, there are
administrative requirements required in the act with which an employer will need to comply.


Examination of Obama's health care speech

Thursday 10 September 2009 at 6:56 pm Check Point: Examining Obama’s Assertions
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In what may become the most talked-about moment of President Obama’s speech to Congress on health care, Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, pointed his finger and shouted, “You lie!”

It was an angry retort to Mr. Obama’s statement that illegal immigrants would not benefit from proposed health care legislation. And while other points in Mr. Obama’s speech were debatable, this one was not. (more)

Sen. Baucus unveiled healthcare reform compromise plan

Wednesday 09 September 2009 at 6:33 pm Baucus presents healthcare overhaul plan
By Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook - Los Angeles Times

The Montana Democrat who heads a key Senate panel unveils his proposal. It would tax high-end insurance plans and create nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a government-run option

Reporting from Washington - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday unveiled his long-awaited compromise blueprint for healthcare reform, proposing new taxes on high-end insurance plans and offering nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a controversial government-run option. (more)

Who will benefit from health insurance reform?

Tuesday 08 September 2009 at 8:16 pm A Market 'Fundamentally Changed': How Health Proposals Could Affect Americans Who Buy Their Own Insurance
By Julie Appleby, KHN Staff Writer

This story is a collaboration between Kaiser Health News and

Who will benefit - and who won't - if Congress overhauls America's health-care system?

So far, there are two main proposals being debated on Capitol Hill: one authored by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and a similar one being put together by House Democrats. Still to act: the Senate Finance Committee, whose approach could differ significantly. (more)

Discovery of two antibodies raises hopes for scientists to come up with AIDS vaccine

Friday 04 September 2009 at 5:23 pm Potent HIV-Blocking Proteins Raise Hopes for Vaccine
By Rob Waters - Bloomberg

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- A new blood screening technique has turned up antibodies with the ability to neutralize many strains of the AIDS virus, a discovery that might help create a long- sought vaccine against the deadly disease.

The finding, published today in the journal Science, is the result of an global effort by AIDS researchers using new methods developed by two companies, Monogram Biosciences, a unit of Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, and closely held Theraclone Sciences of Seattle. Scientists searched the blood of HIV-infected people who were symptom-free for three years. (more)

Why is health care so expensive?

Friday 04 September 2009 at 5:07 pm A Medical Mystery: Why Health Care Is So Expensive
by Chana Joffe-Walt - NPR

For all the attempts to lower the cost of health care in the United States, it remains expensive. Overall medical spending accounts for more than 17 percent of America's entire economy.

As lawmakers look for ways to trim costs and extend insurance coverage to more people, one of their greatest challenges has been pulling apart the many layers of expense. (more)

Minnesota example of cost-effective health care delivery system

Thursday 03 September 2009 at 6:32 pm Minnesota Experiment Puts Patient Health First
by David Welna - NPR

This is the second of a two-part report about the search for a more cost-effective health care delivery system.

In the health care debate, many agree that the payment system for doctors and hospitals doesn't work. They're paid for each procedure they perform, giving them a perverse incentive to perform more.

Yet that system — known as "fee for service" — is what prevails nationwide, and it is a major driver in rising health care costs. The health care bills before Congress may do little to change that. But on the state level, Minnesota may have found its own way to move doctors off of the fee-for-service treadmill. (more)

Medicare Advantage plans are expected to have double digit rate increases in 2010

Thursday 03 September 2009 at 5:28 pm Double-Digit Medical Expense Trend to Continue
By Philip Moeller - U.S. News and World report

As Congress gets ready to reconvene next week and take up healthcare reform, the reality of seemingly uncontrollable medical costs will be playing out once again. Despite near-zero inflation and recessionary conditions, health insurers in 2010 face another year of double-digit increases in the charges they pay for hospital services, physicians, drugs, and other healthcare costs. Premiums will rise and some health plans will raise co-pays for doctors visits, eliminate coverage of some expensive drugs and consider other ways to save money. Imagine if the auto industry decided to make its case for government support by jacking up the price of the vehicles that consumers already can't afford. (more)

Wellpoint CEO calls for health care reform

Wednesday 02 September 2009 at 5:21 pm Wellpoint CEO Braly argues for health care reform
Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - One of them most powerful women in the nation is calling for health care reform. Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly says she supports guaranteed coverage for everyone - as long as everyone gets and stays covered.

Braly addressed the Economic Club at the Convention Center Tuesday. As Forbes Magazine's eighth most powerful woman in the world, Braly is going to attract attention. (more)

AARP will try to show neutral position regarding Obama's health care reform

Wednesday 02 September 2009 at 5:11 pm AARP raises its voice in health care debate
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — AARP, which has lost tens of thousands of members over its support for efforts to revamp the health care system, is preparing a post-Labor Day blitz to try to cast itself as a politically impartial advocate on health care issues.
"To be clear: AARP has not endorsed any comprehensive health care reform bill — but we are fighting for a solution that improves health care for our members," the group's CEO, Barry Rand, and president, Jennie Chin Hansen, wrote to members on Tuesday.

The effort gears up next week, when members of Congress — some of them surprised by voter anger expressed at town-hall-style meetings last month — return to the nation's capital to resume the debate over how to lower health care costs and provide insurance coverage for the millions who go without. (more)

Two in three Americans are confused about Obama’s health care reform, per CBS News poll

Tuesday 01 September 2009 at 10:22 pm Poll: Two-Thirds Confused by Health Reform
CBS News Survey Finds Most Americans Scratching Heads Over Proposed Changes to Health Insurance System

(CBS) Most Americans find the health care reforms being discussed in Congress confusing and say President Obama has not clearly explained his plans to overhaul the system, according to a CBS News poll released Tuesday.

Two in three Americans call the health care reforms being debated by lawmakers confusing; only 31 percent said they have a clear understanding of the proposed changes. Sixty-seven percent of those questioned said the reform ideas were confusing. (more)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledges to include a government-run health insurance option in the House bill

Monday 31 August 2009 at 5:34 pm Dem split on the public option casts doubt on reform of healthcare
By Mike Soraghan and A.B. Stoddard - The Hill

Democratic aides and lawmakers are questioning how their party can pass a health reform bill next month with centrists and liberals at odds over a core aspect of the legislation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) has pledged to include a government-run insurance option in the House bill that will be voted on next month. This reassures liberals but will make it difficult or impossible to get the votes needed to pass it if the public option is included. (more)

Over four million Americans are exposed to high doses of radiation each year from medical imaging tests, study finds

Thursday 27 August 2009 at 12:32 pm Study Finds Radiation Risk for Patients
By ALEX BERENSON - The New York Times

At least four million Americans under age 65 are exposed to high doses of radiation each year from medical imaging tests, according to a new study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

About 400,000 of those patients receive very high doses, more than the maximum annual exposure allowed for nuclear power plant employees or anyone else who works with radioactive material. (more)

Labor Unions capture the opportunity of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death and urge Congress to pass health care reform legislation in his honor

Thursday 27 August 2009 at 12:16 pm Will Kennedy's Death Revitalize Health Care Push?
by Liz Halloran - NPR

Exactly one year before Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's death from cancer Tuesday, the longtime senator and scion of one the nation's most famous families took a labored walk to the podium at the Democratic National Convention and declared guaranteed health care for every American the "cause of my life."

Indeed, Kennedy's influential work on expanding health care spanned his nearly half-century in Washington: from the 1960s and the establishment of Medicare during the Johnson administration, to the current effort by President Obama to advance a historic overhaul of the nation's health care system. (more)

Rep. Henry Waxman in battle with pharmaceutical industry to save Medicare billions of dollars

Wednesday 26 August 2009 at 1:17 pm Waxman Takes on Drug Makers Over Medicare
By DUFF WILSON - The New York Times

As the health care debate focuses on whether cost cuts are looming in Medicare coverage, Representative Henry A. Waxman is on a crusade to save Medicare billions of dollars — in a way that he says would end up helping the elderly.

That is because the money would come from the drug industry, which is why Mr. Waxman may have a fight on his hands.

Drug makers contend they have already worked out a 10-year, $80 billion cost-savings deal with the White House and crucial Senate gatekeepers on the trillion- (more)

Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday night

Wednesday 26 August 2009 at 1:05 pm Ted Kennedy, Senate's Liberal Lion, Dies
Ron Elving and Brian Naylor - NPR

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts — the scion of an American political dynasty who became an iconic liberal legislator — died Tuesday night of complications related to a cancerous brain tumor. The 77-year-old Democratic lawmaker was surrounded by family members at his home in the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, though the date has not yet been announced. (more)

Swine Flu may infect more than half of U.S. population this fall and winter Swine Flu this fall and winter

Tuesday 25 August 2009 at 1:53 pm Swine Flu Could Infect Half of U.S.
Presidential Panel's Estimate Is First To Gauge Possible Impact of Pandemic
By Rob Stein - Washington Post Staff Writer

Swine flu could infect half the U.S. population this fall and winter, hospitalizing up to 1.8 million people and causing as many as 90,000 deaths -- more than double the number that occur in an average flu season, according to an estimate from a presidential panel released Monday.

The virus could cause symptoms in 60 million to 120 million people, more than half of whom might seek medical attention, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology estimated in an 86-page report to the White House assessing the government's response to the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. (more)

Democrats are planning to pass health care reform without Republican support

Tuesday 25 August 2009 at 1:19 pm Dems mull healthcare bill without GOP
By Jared Allen - The Hill

A leading House Democrat on Monday said Democrats are prepared to pass healthcare reform without Republican support, echoing comments made over the weekend by a leading Senate Democrat.

“I think that at some point everyone’s going to see that the Republicans simply are not going to agree to any kind of healthcare reform that the insurance industry isn’t supporting and that, reluctantly, we’re going to have to do it without them,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). (more)

Real issues of health care reform

Monday 24 August 2009 at 12:48 pm This Could Be the Next Big Issue in Health Reform
No, this is not about “death panels.”

The town hall meetings. The media coverage of the town hall meetings. Media polls about how the American people feel about the town hall meetings. And even the media myth busting and fact checking about the most extreme claims made at the town hall meetings and the Administration's daily efforts to set the record straight. All these things have focused attention on a few hot button issues that activists on the right and the left who attend town meetings care about most. They have diverted attention from the core elements of health reform legislation, and from the core concerns of the American people about their health care costs, which generated the health reform debate in the first place. When the congressional recess ends, policymakers will hopefully refocus on those concerns. (more)

Liberal's concern about Obama's health care reform is growing

Monday 24 August 2009 at 12:30 pm Concern, Doubts From the Left on Obama's Health-Care Plan
By Dan Balz - The Washington Post

Through most of the summer, opposition to President Obama and his health-care initiative has come almost entirely from the right. In the past week, however, the president has been trying to tamp down a noisy uprising on the left.

The immediate cause for the rebellion is growing concern among Obama's progressive allies that he is prepared to deal away the public insurance option to win passage of a health-care bill. Obama insists that he still prefers the public option as part of any legislative package, but some friends on the left now clearly doubt his resolve. (more)

Experts discuss the chance of health care reform bill passing

Thursday 20 August 2009 at 1:19 pm Can Health Reform Pass? Experts Weigh In
By KHN Staff

Will President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have to greatly scale back their health care overhaul proposals to get legislation passed this year?

Here’s what some experts are saying. (more)

House Democrats examine major health insurer's profits, and executive pays

Thursday 20 August 2009 at 12:48 pm House Democrats Examine Health Insurers’ Pay, Profit
By Lorraine Woellert and Brian Faler -

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- House Democrats asked the nation’s biggest health insurers to provide details on executive pay, spending on entertainment, and other financial records, a move that an industry spokesman denounced as an intimidation tactic.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Representative Bart Stupak, chairman of the panel’s oversight committee, sent a letter to 52 insurance companies, including Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc., Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana Inc. and Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp. (more)

Mystery of health care costs

Wednesday 19 August 2009 at 12:38 pm Tackling the Mystery of How Much It Costs
By GINA KOLATA - The New York Times

You go to a restaurant, peruse the menu, take your waiter’s suggestions, and order a meal. But there is something odd: the menu has no prices and you have no idea what you will be required to pay until a few weeks later when the bill arrives in the mail.

That, it turns out, is analogous to what goes on in health care, where fees are hidden at the time of service. Making matters even worse, patients often are seeking care when they are frightened and vulnerable, in no position to ask about prices or haggle. (more)

Preventive health care - money saver?

Wednesday 19 August 2009 at 12:28 pm The Problem With Prevention
By Michelle Andrews - The New York Times

When politicians talk about prevention and health care, they are prone to sweeping statements about how preventive services not only keep people healthy but also save money. Just last Sunday, President Obama wrote in The Times:

Most importantly, we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end. That makes sense, it saves lives, and it can also save money. (more)

Is government-run public health care option live or dead?

Tuesday 18 August 2009 at 1:54 pm Public Option — Here or History?
By Jane Norman, CQ Staff

Obama administration officials are insisting that the government-run public option in their health overhaul proposal is alive and well, despite remarks, comments and responses that hint otherwise.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ’ commented that the initiative is “not the essential element” for providing consumers with choice and competition in insurance plans. (more)

AARP is losing members due to their position on health care reform

Tuesday 18 August 2009 at 1:42 pm Thousands Quit AARP Over Health Reform
Tens of Thousands Don't Like the Health Care Overhaul

CBS News has learned that up to 60,000 people have cancelled their AARP memberships since July 1, angered over the group's position on health care.

Elaine Guardiani has been with AARP for 14 years, and said, "I'm extremely disappointed in AARP."

Retired nurse Dale Anderson has 12 years with AARP and said, "I don't wanna be connected with AARP." (more)

Medicare's pay-for-performance pilot project could serve a model in health care reform

Monday 17 August 2009 at 1:39 pm Medicare Test Pays for Hospital Performance
By JANE ZHANG - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—A pilot project by Medicare that links hospital payments to the quality of care has helped prevent infections in pneumonia patients and cut death rates in heart-attack patients, according to data to be released Monday.

In the project, hospitals compete for cash incentives from Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled. On Monday, Medicare officials are expected to announce that 225 hospitals will divide $12 million in bonuses; three poor performers will be penalized. (more)

White house is signaling for compromise on health care plan

Monday 17 August 2009 at 1:07 pm Chances Dim for a Public Plan
White House Opens Door to Compromise on Government Role in Health Overhaul

The Obama administration gave its strongest signal yet that it would be willing to compromise on plans to expand the government's direct role in health-insurance coverage as it fights a growing crescendo of opposition to its effort to overhaul health care.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that a new, government-run health-insurance program wasn't the "essential element" of any overhaul plan. (more)

White House is asking people to report friends and neighbors for "fishy" information concerning health care reform

Friday 14 August 2009 at 11:57 am Reject White House effort to squelch health debate

Just months after Islamic terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with the deadliest attack on American soil in U.S. history, Attorney General John Ashcroft attempted to establish a “TIPS” program in hopes of catching any future terrorists.

The Terrorism Information & Prevention System would have encouraged cable repair operators, telephone service technicians, meter readers and mail carriers to report suspicious activities to federal authorities. With loud objections by the American Civil Liberties Union and members of both parties, Congress adopted a homeland-security law that prohibited such a snitching program. (more)

Healthcare town-hall meetings are too rough for some lawmakers

Friday 14 August 2009 at 11:33 am Town halls too heated for some
By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The contentious health care debate is forcing some Congress members to rethink an August tradition: town-hall-style meetings.
Eager to avoid the kind of shouting — and, in some cases shoving — confrontations that have turned the health care debate into a cable television and YouTube sensation, some lawmakers are opting out of the free-wheeling forums.

"I'm not going to give people a stage to perform," Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told the El Paso Times. Like a number of his Democratic colleagues, he's holding telephone town halls instead. (more)

White house retracts Obama's claim about AARP supporting his healthcare bill

Thursday 13 August 2009 at 12:48 pm AARP wields its power in health care debate
Obama quickly retracts claim

By Jennifer Haberkorn - The Washington Times

If there is anyone or anything President Obama cannot afford to offend in his battle to overhaul the nation's health care system, it is the powerful seniors lobby, AARP.

Perhaps that is why the White House was so quick to backpedal Wednesday after Mr. Obama mistakenly claimed that the organization, with its tens of millions of politically active members, had already signed on to his plan. (more)

Lawmakers confront more anger from their constituents during town-hall meetings for healthcare reform

Thursday 13 August 2009 at 12:27 pm For Lawmakers, Health-Plan Anger Keeps Coming
By DAVID STOUT - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers ran into fresh anger and skepticism on Wednesday as they fielded questions from constituents worried about changes in the health care system, and about a lot of other things having to do with government.

The queries hurled at legislators from the Atlantic Seaboard to the nation’s midsection reflected deep-seated fears, a general suspicion of government and, in some cases, a lack of knowledge on the part of the questioners. (more)

Congressional Black Caucus renews their efforts to push for vital provisions in healthcare reform bill that effect minorities

Wednesday 12 August 2009 at 2:00 pm As Congress leaves for recess, CBC keeps health care on the front burner
By: Pharoh Martin, NNPA National Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) — As members of Congress begin August recess, temporarily setting aside intense negotiations for a passable healthcare reform bill, the Congressional Black Caucus has vowed to continue pushing for specific provisions that its members feel are vital for African Americans.

The original House and Senate bills would significantly reduce the staggering number of uninsured Americans, of which are disparately Black. But it won’t be as effective if other provisions are not also included, CBC members argue. (more)

Seniors are not optimistic about Obama's healthcare reform plan

Wednesday 12 August 2009 at 1:34 pm Many seniors aren't sure healthcare system needs repair
Convincing this influential group of voters that there is a need for change is proving to be an uphill battle, as a meeting at a Denver retirement center demonstrates.
By Judith Graham and Janet Hook - Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington and Denver -- Far from the hue and cry over healthcare legislation that is erupting at town halls across the country, many senior citizens are quietly confused about what an overhaul might mean for them. And the opinions they form in the coming weeks may well prove crucial.

Seniors are an influential group of voters who bring a unique perspective to the topic: They already have guaranteed healthcare under Medicare, and they also are the heaviest users of medical services. (more)

Over $1.2 trillion wasted on health care each year

Tuesday 11 August 2009 at 2:48 pm Health care's big money wasters
More than $1.2 trillion spent on health care each year is a waste of money. Members of the medical community identify the leading causes.
By Parija B. Kavilanz, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- Down the drain: $1.2 trillion.

That's half of the $2.2 trillion the United States spends on health care each year, according to the most recent data from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute. (more)

President Obama hopes to regain public support for his healthcare plan during town-hall meetings

Tuesday 11 August 2009 at 2:18 pm Obama Heads to Town-Hall Meetings
By JANET ADAMY - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will spend the week trying to convince Americans with health insurance that legislation in Congress would benefit them, holding three town-hall meetings, a venue where Democrats have faced loud complaints.

Mr. Obama plans to hold the town-hall meetings Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H., Friday in Bozeman, Mont., and Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo. A White House official said participants wouldn't be screened to keep out opponents. (more)

Medical errors - Cause of massive death toll

Monday 10 August 2009 at 12:43 pm Within health care hides massive, avoidable death toll

Richard Flagg drowned in his own blood.

Stanley Stinnett choked on his own vomit.

Both were victims of the leading cause of accidental death in America — mistakes made in medical care. (more)

Who is telling the truth in healthcare reform issues?

Monday 10 August 2009 at 12:13 pm A Primer on the Details of Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON — With the debate over the future of health care now shifted from Capitol Hill to town halls, supporters and critics of the Democrats’ legislative proposals are polishing their sound bites and sharpening their attack lines.

Increasingly, the battle looks like a presidential contest, with expensive advertising campaigns and Internet-driven efforts to mobilize local support. It can be difficult to sort fact from fiction, as angry protesters denounce the legislation at raucous public forums. (more)

Budget line-item vetoes of AIDS programs and Healthy Families program by California governor may be illegal

Friday 07 August 2009 at 1:10 pm California Legislature's lawyer calls Schwazenegger vetoes illegal
By Kevin Yamamura - The Sacramento Bee

The Legislature's legal adviser issued a four-page opinion Wednesday that asserted the bulk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's $489 million in budget line-item vetoes were illegal.

The Republican governor last week cut various sectors of government to help balance the budget and build a $500 million reserve, focusing many of his line-item vetoes on social services, such as state Office of AIDS programs and Healthy Families. (more)

Obama White House is promising to defend democrats against healthcare opponent's attacks

Friday 07 August 2009 at 12:54 pm White House Vows to Defend Democrats on Health Reform
By LAURA MECKLER - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Top Obama aides promised Senate Democrats that the White House would defend them on health care if opponents attack, part of an organized effort to arm Democrats as they head out of town for the August break.

At a closed-door meeting Thursday with senators, White House senior adviser David Axelrod presented polling data that he said showed the administration's new message focused on consumer protections was effective, particularly with swing voters. (more)

States expand children's health insurance coverage despite budget crisis

Thursday 06 August 2009 at 1:34 pm Cash-strapped states making deep cuts to health care
by Pauline Vu - Fianance and Commerce

Although states are facing their worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, 14 found the dollars this year to increase health coverage for about 250,000 children.

That’s one of the few bright spots for health within state budgets in a year in which all but a handful of states faced shortfalls and were forced to shrink taxpayer-financed programs. (more)

Senators are looking for bipartisan agreement in healthcare reform battle

Thursday 06 August 2009 at 1:07 pm Senators Closer To Health Package
Bipartisan Talks On Reform Move Toward Center
By Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery - Washington Post Staff Writers

Senate negotiators are inching toward bipartisan agreement on a health-care plan that seeks middle ground on some of the thorniest issues facing Congress, offering the fragile outlines of a legislative consensus even as the political battle over reform intensifies outside Washington.

The emerging Finance Committee bill would shave about $100 billion off the projected trillion-dollar cost of the legislation over the next decade and eventually provide coverage to 94 percent of Americans, according to participants in the talks. It would expand Medicaid, crack down on insurers, abandon the government insurance option that President Obama is seeking and, for the first time, tax health-care benefits under the most generous plans. Backers say the bill would also offer the only concrete plan before Congress for reining in the skyrocketing cost of federal health programs over the long term. (more)

Healthcare reform - Concern or opportunity for insurance agents?

Wednesday 05 August 2009 at 6:27 pm Insurance Agents Look Into The Future, See Uncertainty And "Opportunity"
By Jaclyn Schiff - Kaiser Health News

For the tens of thousands of individual insurance agents nationwide, the idea of a health system overhaul hits close to home – and work. The changes currently under consideration could radically alter how they do business. For example, there could be requirements that all individuals have coverage, that employers provide insurance for their workers and that insurers cover anyone - regardless of preexisting conditions. In addition, there could be a government-run public plan that might compete with insurance companies.

KHN reporter Jaclyn Schiff spoke to two agents to find out how they are bracing themselves for the post-reform environment. We edited their remarks. (more)

There is a generational divide on Obama's healthcare reform, per CNN poll

Wednesday 05 August 2009 at 6:10 pm CNN Poll: Americans split on Obama's health care proposals
From CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Americans appear split over President Barack Obama's health care reform proposals, according to a new national poll.

Fifty percent of those questioned in CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning say they support the president's plans, with 45 percent opposed.

The results indicate a generational divide. (more)

Democrats are planning to bypass Republicans on healthcare reform

Tuesday 04 August 2009 at 11:57 am Democrats May Bypass Republicans on Health Plan, Schumer Says
By James Rowley - Bloomberg

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats may decide to pass a U.S. health-care overhaul without Republican support if some opposition lawmakers don’t agree to a plan by mid-September, Senator Charles Schumer said.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus set a Sept. 15 deadline for getting a bipartisan agreement among six senators on the panel who are negotiating a deal. (more)

California's budget deal could double the number of uninsured children

Monday 03 August 2009 at 12:13 pm California Deal Leaves More Kids Uninsured
By RYAN KNUTSON - The Wall Street Journal

California's budget deal is expected to nearly double the state's number of uninsured children and puts a spotlight on a key provision in the health-care bills in Congress.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week signed a revised annual budget to close California's $24 billion shortfall, including a $1.4 billion cut to Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid. In addition, California slashed $178.6 million from Healthy Families, its version of the Children's Health Insurance Program. (more)

Lessons to be learned from failed California Health Insurance Exchanges

Monday 03 August 2009 at 12:00 pm California Offers Lessons on Insurance Exchanges
By MICHAEL SANSERINO - The Wall Street Journal

As Congress debates creating insurance "exchanges" as part of a health-care overhaul, the failure of a similar effort in California may offer important insights, former participants in the program say.

From 1993 to 2006, small businesses in California could buy health insurance through an exchange run initially by the government, and later by a nonprofit group. (more)

National electronic medical records - easier said than done

Friday 31 July 2009 at 11:53 am Digital health: Struggle or a pipedream?
The target date for the stimulus plan's electronic health record program is just 5 years off, but three health care providers' stories show a difficult road ahead.
By David Goldman, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Creating an electronic health record for every American by 2014 is a big part of Obama's agenda but it may be easier said than done.

For one, the cost can be prohibitive - easily running into the tens of millions of dollars. Getting physicians on board can be challenging. And the sheer magnitude of implementing the technology can be overwhelmingly cumbersome - translation: try creating a system for a hospital that serves 600,000 patients. (more)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of establishing government-run health insurance plan

Friday 31 July 2009 at 11:37 am House Health Care Bill Criticized as Panel Votes for Public Plan

WASHINGTON — The House Energy and Commerce Committee resumed work Thursday on major health care legislation, voting to establish a government-run health insurance plan, as top Republicans stepped up their criticism of the ambitious legislation.

By a vote of 35 to 24, Democrats defeated a Republican effort to eliminate a section of the bill that would create the public health insurance option.

“Our constituents should have the choice of a public plan,” said Representative Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut. “There is nothing to be scared of here. No one will be forced into the public plan.” (more)

Public support for Obama's health reform is vanishing

Thursday 30 July 2009 at 2:08 pm Support Slips for Health Plan
Obama Push Faces Growing Doubts in Poll; Overhaul Advances in House, Senate
By LAURA MECKLER - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Support for President Barack Obama's health-care effort has declined over the past five weeks, particularly among those who already have insurance, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found, amid prolonged debate over costs and quality of care.

In mid-June, respondents were evenly divided when asked whether they thought Mr. Obama's health plan was a good or bad idea. In the new poll, conducted July 24-27, 42% called it a bad idea while 36% said it was a good idea. (more)



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