Weekend update / Miscellany

  • Sen. Joe Lieberman (I Conn.), proponent of domestic partner coverage in the FEHBP, has been allowed by the Democratic leadership to retain his chairmanship of the Senate committee with responsibility for FEHBP oversight, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The House committee with FEHBP oversight responsibility, Oversight and Government Reform, lost its chairman Henry Waxman (D Calif) to the more powerful Energy and Commerce Committee chair. Rep. Ed Towns (D NY) will become the new Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman.
  • AHIP, the managed care trade association, expressed support for a health care reform based on an individual mandate which is found both in the Obama and Baucus reform plans.
  • Summary of AHIP’s Proposal to Guarantee Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions and Promote Affordability in the Individual Insurance Market:
  • Guarantee-issue coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusions;

  • Establish an individual coverage requirement with an insurance coverage verification system, an automatic enrollment process and effective enforcement of the requirement that all individuals purchase and maintain coverage;

  • Promote affordability by: providing refundable, advanceable tax credits for moderate-income individuals and working families; and promoting tax equity whether coverage is obtained through an employer or the individual market; and

  • Ensure premium stability for those with existing coverage through a broadly funded reimbursement mechanism that spreads costs for the highest-risk individuals.
  • The Boston Globe reported last week that “Leaders of some large academic medical centers and community hospitals [in Massachusetts] called for [Massachusetts] Governor Deval Patrick to examine how Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and a few other institutions are able to obtain higher prices from health insurers even though there is, especially for the most common procedures, often no demonstrated difference in the quality of the care delivered by those hospitals.” [Hint — It’s called leverage.]
  • CMS created a new Dialysis Facility Compare website for consumers. There is a special category of Medicare coverage for persons with end stage renal disease (regardless of age). Suprisingly, only 6% of Kaiser Family Foundation survey participants had heard of CMS’s very useful Hospital Compare website, according to a survey conducted in August 2008. Avery Comarow, of U.S. News and World Report, which publishes its own hospital rankings, thoughfully comments on the KFF study here.