HEALTH REFORM: HILL PUBLICATION REVIEWS CONGRESS’ EFFORTS
Today's edition of Roll Call contains a special 28-pageThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
"Policy Briefing" devoted to health care reform efforts underway
in Congress. The section contains 15 articles by members of
Congress on various elements of health care reform. Sen. Orrin
Hatch (R-UT) discusses the importance of increasing the tobacco
tax to fund children's health insurance programs. Rep. Tom
Bliley (R-VA) writes about children's health, saying that the
House Commerce Committee's "KidCare" proposal, which would expand
Medicaid eligibility, "reaches out to more than one million
presently uninsured children and provides them with medical
insurance and direct health care services." Rep. Nancy Johnson
(R-CT) discusses her Child Health Insurance and Lower Deficit
Act, which would give states flexibility in designing children's
health programs and would be funded by a tobacco tax increase.
Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) and House Ways and Means health
subcommittee Chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-
OH) discuss Medicare reform. Kerrey argues that the Medicare
reform debate should be used to revisit the larger issue of
health care reform. Thomas argues for competition-based reforms
to the system and Brown warns about some problems with Medicare
managed care. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Connie Mack (R-FL) and
Reps. John Porter (R-IL) and Ernest Istook (R-OK) discuss funding
for medical research and the National Institutes of Health.
Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Charlie Norwood
(R-GA) discuss managed care mandates. In a joint article, Rep.
Harris Fawell (R-IL) and Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) discuss the
formation of co-ops for small businesses to purchase health
insurance. And Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH) discusses minority
health issues (7/14 issue).
CALIFORNIA: Taking The Lead In Managed Care Reforms
"Leading a national surge of second thoughts about managed
health care, California, long a pacesetter in the field, has
plunged into a wholesale review of its managed care system," New
York Times reports. The state Legislature is considering an
"avalanche of proposals for tighter government regulation,"
following an onslaught of more than 2,000 consumer complaints
against HMOs last year. Just this week, the state Senate is
scheduled to hold hearings on 50 health care bills that have
already passed the Assembly. In addition, the Assembly will
consider 30 bills approved by the Senate. Times reports that the
"growing skepticism about managed care" is being fueled by
stories about HMOs that have denied needed care to patients, as
in a case settled last week which resulted in a $1.1 million
payment to a patient who was denied care recommended by her
doctor (see AHL 7/10).
Managed care proponents say California, as well as the rest
of the nation, "is legislating by anecdote, exaggerating the
importance" of cases of managed care mishaps. Alain Enthoven, a
Stanford University professor and chairman of Gov. Pete Wilson's
(R) Managed Health Care Improvement Task Force, said that "the
backlash in California against HMOs had been encouraged by a
sharp rise in enrollment." He said, "It has been worsened by the
fact that a lot of the media are dealing with it quite
irresponsibly. They take one episode and blow that up into a
huge story" (Freudenheim, 7/14).