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Kennedy's Dream Came True, But Healthcare Cost Troubles Remain
Joe Cantlupe, Senior Editor-Managed Care

For decades before his death last August, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts fought for health reform legislation. If Kennedy were still alive during the Senate debates, I bet he would have taken the occasion to mention what was going on in his home state, where the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy was conducting hearings about exorbitant insurance rate hikes. The session was overshadowed by the goings on at the White House and Congress, but the Massachusetts issue may have been a true compass, in itself, laying the groundwork for what is going on nationally in healthcare. In the meantime, the issue of increased rate hikes will continue. [Read More]
  March 24, 2010

 
Editor's Picks
Healthcare Reform Provisions Kick in Over 10 Years
Many of the provisions included in the healthcare reform legislation would not take place immediately, but along a 10-year timeline. In 2010, adults with pre-existing conditions, who have been uninsured for at least six months, can enroll in a temporary, high-risk health insurance pool and receive subsidized premiums beginning three months after the bill's passage. All health insurance plans must also offer coverage to dependent children through 26. Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs in Medicare in 2011, and in 2014 new state health insurance exchanges would be created. [Read More]
Reform Brings New Customers, Concerns for Health Insurers
Health reform could help the insurance industry more than any specific aspect in healthcare by drawing in tens of millions of new customers and billions of dollars of more revenues. For many insurers, they are definitely keen on the idea of an individual mandate which, estimates suggest, will bring 32 million to insurance. The figures have certainly mooted criticism insurers voiced about the health bill in recent months. Insurers say upcoming changes—such as covering pre-existing conditions—are long overdue, but experts say insurers are concerned about unfolding regulations surrounding the legislation, and customers may face massive confusion as they try to sort out the specifics. [Read More]
13 AGs File Suit to Block Health Reform Mandates
Attorneys general in 13 states didn't wait for President Obama's signature to dry on the healthcare reform bill before they filed a joint lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new laws. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said at a press conference that the healthcare law "is unconstitutional and invades the sovereignty of the states." Joining the suit were attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, and South Dakota—all Republicans—and Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell, a Democrat. [Read More]
Will Latest Medicare Advantage Cuts Kill the Program?
President Obama has described Medicare Advantage as a "waste," and Congress has agreed, proposing $132 billion worth of cuts to the program over 10 years in the health reform package. While some senior citizens are worried about the cuts, experts say that payment reductions to private insurers involved in the program may pave the way for seniors to move into traditional Medicare or commercial individual plans. Under the Medicare Advantage cuts planned in reform, the first payment reductions would occur in 2011. Health insurer CEOs are advised to begin now to "absorb reduced payments," according to one health plan expert. [Read More]
House Decides Against Sending Billions in Medicare Payments to Low-Cost States
In the 11th hour of health reform negotiations last week, one strategic plan would have redirected about $3 billion of Medicare funds budgeted for California's hospital patients to states with historically lower Medicare reimbursement rates. The idea was that greater levels of reimbursement to those states might persuade any recalcitrant lawmakers to vote for the bill. But that approach is no longer in play. "It was a part of the discussions that took place over the weekend," acknowledged Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association. [Read More]
Managed Care Headlines
This Year's Hospital Mass Layoffs are Consistent with 2009 Record Levels
John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 23, 2010
Insurance Commissioners: Health Reform Will Not Limit State Oversight
John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 23, 2010
Industry groups say premiums will rise with new healthcare bill
Hartford Courant, March 23, 2010
Strict abortion rules mean fewer insurers may offer coverage
Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2010
In reform, boons for hospitals and drug makers
New York Times, March 22, 2010
Group seeks documents from Anthem Blue Cross inquiry
Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2010
Arizona drops children's health program
New York Times, March 19, 2010
Massachusetts hospital executive says network trying to become less pricey
Boston Globe, March 19, 2010
Strong Medicare Advantage Returns Help NY Health Plans, Says Report
Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 18, 2010

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