First Edition: September 2, 2010

Today’s headlines include reports about a new study examining the impact of the health overhaul on the small business workforce.

KHN Column: Debunking Medicare Myths
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, James Capretta writes: “Here’s a puzzle: Critics say Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance options offered to beneficiaries — are inefficient and costly. But those same critics oppose vouchers for Medicare — even though that would set up a direct competition between the private plans and the traditional fee-for-service program. What are they afraid of?” (Kaiser Health News).

Health Insurance Tax Credit Likely To Affect Small Part Of Small-Business Workforce
About 16.6 million workers are employed by small businesses that are eligible for health insurance tax credits under the new health-care law, according to estimates that were to be released by a nonpartisan research foundation Thursday (The Washington Post).

More Workers At Small Businesses Will Get Medical Insurance Thanks to Healthcare Reform, Study Predicts
It’s been nearly six months since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law, and it’s still pretty unpopular. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll for August found that 45% of Americans surveyed said they have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of the law, compared with 43% who like it. A consensus of recent polls compiled by shows even more negativity – 48% of Americans oppose the law, compared with only 42% who favor it (Los Angeles Times).

Hospital Profits Raise Eyebrows As Medical Costs Continue To Soar
Forbes magazine this week released its first-ever survey of America’s most profitable hospitals, revealing that 24 hospitals with more than 200 beds make 25 cents or more for every dollar of patient revenue they take in. The report is being widely disseminated by the health insurance industry, which is pushing back against claims that health insurance profits — rather than rising medical costs — are to blame for rising premiums (The Hill’s Healthwatch). 

Desperate For A Treatment, One Physician Heals Himself
In late May this year, Dr. Stephane Huberty inserted a needle into his upper arm and injected himself with a cloudy white vaccine previously tested only on rats and dogs. The reason for this desperate measure: Dr. Huberty suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare neurological condition. It is one of more than 5,000 “orphan” diseases, so called because there are so few sufferers that most pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to invest in cures (The Wall Street Journal).

Stem-Cell Plaintiffs Cite Ethical Motivation
The two scientists behind the lawsuit that has temporarily blocked federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research said Wednesday they were motivated by ethical objections to destroying human embryos for medical research (The Wall Street Journal).

Botox Maker To Pay $600 Million To Resolve Investigation
Allergan Inc., the maker of wrinkle-smoothing Botox, has agreed to pay $600 million to settle a yearslong federal investigation into its marketing of the top-selling, botulin-based drug (The Associated Press).

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