Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Themes

Wow -- what a week! I don't think I've ever been more exhausted in my life. And still, there's news.

The Obama Administration has asked the Supreme Court to decide the health reform cases, making it likely that the Court will issue a decision by next June, the end of next year's term, and right in the middle of the Presidential campaign. WaPo predicts the Justices will uphold the law.

Senator Coburn and Senator Lieberman (we in CT apologize) press for $500 billion in cuts to Medicare as part of the super-committee's deficit reduction. They would raise premiums for those earning more than $150,000 per year.

Medicare launched an initiative yesterday to pay primary care physicians a bonus for engaging in care coordination. These are the kinds of innovations that ultimately will reduce health care costs, so this is great to see. Here's more on how the comprehensive primary care initiative would work.

Vouchers instead of Medicare isn't enough for Paul Ryan. Now, he wants vouchers instead of health reform. Of course, vouchers don't help anybody if you can't buy insurance because you have a pre-existing condition. And you can't force insurers to take on the most expensive patients without raising rates dramatically unless you also bring healthy people into the market. And that requires an individual mandate so young, healthy people carry insurance. And now we're back to the Supreme Court.

The Connecticut Insurance Department denied a request by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to increase their rates by 12.9%, instead reducing the increase to 3.9%. We suspect part of the motivation was to avoid another legislative move towards requiring rate hearings, but whatever the reason, this is good news for consumers. More states should follow.

Here's the story of one hospital that reduced its readmission rates by making sure the discharge and transition back to the community is smooth. However, another study shows that hospitals across the country are failing at discharge planning.

You probably know that there has been an outbreak of listeria, carried in cantaloupe melon, but now spreading to other produce. Be careful.

Reebok claimed its sneakers could tone the body -- a false claim that is costing them a $25 million settlement.

Even slightly high blood pressure can lead to strokes.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day. Jennifer

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