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HCR Update: Controlling Costs and Other Updates

Jun 15, 2010

Health Care Reform Update

June 11, 2010

Recent study reveals medical technology is costly - and may be dangerous

Anywhere from one-fifth to nearly one-third of the tests and treatments we get are estimated to be unnecessary, and avoidable. This unnecessary care is costly in more ways than the bill: It may lead to dangerous side effects, according to a news report from the Associated Press. The Associated Press combed hundreds of pages of studies and quizzed dozens of specialists to examine the nation's most overused practices. For more details see the article. 

What we're doing to help control costs

To address the underlying costs of health care, we're maintaining a focus on improving access to quality health care, which can help manage costs. Here are some of the things we're doing now:

·         Promoting quality through clinical performance measurement, pay-for-performance incentives and Quality Hospital Insights Programs

·         Expanding programs that identify high-quality providers in certain areas to cover more treatment categories

·         Helping members make more informed decisions through tools that compare cost and quality, allowing members to share physician-patient experiences, and more

·         Helping providers by offering clinical and administrative information electronically

·         Monitoring and measuring members' health improvement though the member health index

·         Participating in the "patient charter" initiative that establishes guiding principles for physician performance measurement and focusing on nationally recognized quality metrics

This Week in Health Care Reform: June 11, 2010     

Primary elections were held in 11 states this week as lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C., to face a growing list of unfinished legislative business including a jobs bill and environmental issues stemming from the Gulf crisis. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama launched a public relations campaign to combat skepticism around his new health care reform legislation and to promote the early implementation of certain provisions of the law.  

As the health care reform debate continues to take shape this year, we encourage you and others to engage members of Congress by visiting the Health Action Network 

Health Care Reform 

Health Care Reform Debate Alive and Well: Democrats continue to sell their plan for health care reform to Americans in the face of mixed public opinion, simultaneously battling Republicans pushing for its repeal.  

Congressional lawmakers address concerns about the new health care reform legislation, particularly among senior citizens , who make up a disproportionate share of voters in midterm elections. Democrats and the administration are eager to publicize certain provisions of the bill, like retaining young adults on their parents' plans until age 26, as a way to gain support and to turn voters away from Republicans who called for its repeal.  

On Tuesday, President Obama held a nationally televised town hall meeting at a senior center in Maryland to highlight the distribution of $250 rebate checks for senior citizens who hit the so-called "doughnut hole " in Medicare's prescription drug coverage. The first round of checks was mailed yesterday and serves as the law's first monetary benefit.  

State Battle Against Health Care Reform Law Continues: On Monday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli disputed the administration's claim that the state lacks standing to challenge the new federal health care reform law. The lawsuit filed by Cuccinelli in the Eastern District Court cites a Virginia law that exempts state residents from being required to have health care coverage. Sebelius argued that states cannot simply pass a statute that would nullify a federal law. A hearing to determine next steps is set for July 1.  

Public Opinion 

Americans Want Repeal of Health Care Reform: A recently released Rasmussen report suggests that Americans are strongly in favor of repealing President Obama's health care reform law. Fifty-eight percent of those polled favor repeal, while 62 percent believe the new legislation will increase the budget deficit. In addition, 57 percent predict health care costs will increase, while 51 percent feel the quality of care will decrease as a result of the new health care reform law. 

Looking Ahead 

Democrat lawmakers are expecting to pass the jobs bill next week but will need Republican support in order to get the 60 votes needed for passage. One provision of the bill, a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors, is being delayed as the bill moves through Congress and would ultimately be blocked if the legislation passes.  

This content is provided solely for informational purposes: it is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisors.

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