Study Finds Health Care Spending Will Rebound When Economy Picks Up

Responses to the question: "For future pr...

Responses to the question: “For future presidential elections, would you support or oppose changing to a system in which the president is elected by direct popular vote, instead of by the electoral college?” Data from Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University Survey of Political Independents, conducted May-June 2007, available at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The analysis by The Kaiser Family Foundation says the slowdown in
health spending over the past several years was largely driven by the
economic malaise.

Los Angeles Times: Study: Growth In Health Spending, Curbed By Recession, To Rebound

A new study attributes a slowdown in U.S. healthcare spending to the
recent recession and predicts more rapid growth as the economy
strengthens. The report issued Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation
seeks to shed light on the reasons behind the recent drop-off. The
analysis found that economic factors related to the recession accounted
for 77% of the reduced growth in national healthcare spending, which
totaled an estimated $2.8 trillion in 2012 (Terhune, 4/22).

The Washington Post’s WonkBlog: Here’s Why Health-Care Costs Are Slowing

The answer has huge implications for the federal budget, which now faces
threats of really fast growth in Medicare, Medicaid and other health
programs. If those programs grow like they have for the past few years —
at the same rate as the rest of the economy — then that frees up lots
of funds for whatever other investments the federal government wants to
make (Kliff, 4/22).

The Hill: Study Predicts Rise In Healthcare Cost Growth By 2019

A stronger U.S. economy will contribute to a rise in the growth of
healthcare costs over the next six years, ending the current
record-breaking slowdown, according to a new study. The Kaiser Family
Foundation (KFF) predicted that by 2019, annual healthcare cost growth
will be closer to historic averages — over 7 percent compared to 3.9
percent between 2009 and 2011 (Viebeck,4/22).

CQ HealthBeat: Nation’s Health Spending Problem Remains Unsolved, Kaiser Analysts Say

Speculation that the nation’s health spending problem has somehow been
solved or cut down to size is unrealistic, says a new Kaiser Family
Foundation study that concludes 77 percent of the slowdown stems from
the weak economy. … But the analysts had a bit of good news. They said
the chilling effect on individual health spending due to the weak
economy will continue for a few more years (Reichard, 4/22).

(KHN is an editorially independent project of The Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Meanwhile, a different analysis is released on health issues–

Reuters: S&P Sees Pension Funding Burden Of Nonprofit Healthcare

Pension liabilities, expenses and contributions remain a burden on U.S.
not-for-profit hospitals despite improvements in the investments used to
fund the retirement systems, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services
said on Monday. Large pension funding demands will likely “be a drag on
the sector for several years,” it added (Lambert and Trokie, 4/22).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary
of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The
full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


Health Stocks Embraced Amid Market Uncertainty

English: A screengrab from President Barack Ob...

English: A screengrab from President Barack Obama’s first White House news conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid

Dec 05, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reports that following President Barack Obama’s re-election, health stocks are viewed as a port in the storm. Other news outlets explore how the markets have remained stable during the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations as investors count on an eleventh-hour deal.

The Wall Street Journal: Health Stocks A Port In Market Storm
Some investors believe they have found a remedy for the volatile market: health-care stocks. Money managers are embracing the group following the Nov. 6 U.S. presidential election, which ensured that the health-care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama will survive. While the overhaul of the U.S. health-care system creates winners and losers within the industry, investors say the newfound certainty heightens health care’s overall allure (Jarzemsky and Kiernan, 12/4).

The Associated Press/New York Times: As Budget Talks Continue, Markets Change Little
Stocks closed little changed Tuesday on Wall Street as budget talks continued in Washington. … Investors are waiting for developments on the budget talks, which are aimed at avoiding the government spending cuts and tax increases that would begin to arrive Jan. 1 and could eventually cause a recession. … Republicans, led by Mr. Boehner, have balked at Mr. Obama’s proposal of $1.6 trillion in additional taxes over a decade, and called on Monday for increasing the Medicare eligibility age and lowering cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits (12/4).

The Washington Post: ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Warnings Yet To Faze Wall Street
The markets’ sense of confidence — or, arguably, complacency — is rooted in two strains of thought. One is that all the tough talk from the negotiators is mere posturing, nothing more than a signal to their allies that they are taking a stand in advance of real dealmaking closer to the deadline. Investors and executives have repeatedly seen brinkmanship out of Washington — including over raising the cap on government borrowing in the summer of 2011 — conclude with an agreement at the last possible moment (Irwin, 12/4).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Study Finds Weight Loss Doesn’t Lower Heart Risks For Diabetics

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (Photo credit: Community Eye Health)

Topics: Public Health

Oct 20, 2012

The New York Times: Diabetes Study Ends Early With A Surprising Result
A large federal study of whether diet and weight loss can prevent heart attacks and strokes in overweight and obese people with Type 2 diabetes has ended two years ahead of schedule because the intensive program did not help (Kolata, 10/19).

The Washington Post: Moderate Weight Loss Alone Doesn’t Lower Heart Disease Risk In Diabetics, Study Shows
Losing a small amount of weight doesn’t appear to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people with diabetes who are already getting good medical care, according to a long and expensive clinical experiment whose results were announced Friday. While modest weight loss has benefits in how overweight diabetics feel, sleep and move, whatever benefit it may confer in preventing cardiovascular disease — which is what most diabetics die from — is too small to measure, the study found (Brown, 10/19).

Ulcus bei Diabetes mellitus

Ulcus bei Diabetes mellitus (Photo credit: rosmary)

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Obama, Romney Spar Over Medicare, Health Reform Policies

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Health Reform, States, Politics

Sep 28, 2012

News outlets offer a variety of coverage on these issues – including how Medicare is playing in the polls and what motivates senior voters. And a new Families USA study offers a critical assessment of Mitt Romney‘s health policies.

The Washington Post: Medicare Working To Boost Obama In Swing States, Poll Finds
Voters in three critical swing states broadly oppose the far-reaching changes to Medicare -associated with the Republican presidential ticket and, by big margins, prefer President Obama to handle the issue, according to new state polls by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. For seniors in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Medicare rivals the economy as a top voting issue (Aizenman, Cohen and Craighill, 9/27).

The Associated Press/ABC News: Older Voters Look Beyond Medicare, Social Security
Who wins the trust of seniors … will be a deciding factor in the presidential election. That should be good news for Mitt Romney, because those 65 and older have backed the Republican candidate in both of the last two presidential elections. But President Barack Obama has been pounding Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, on their plan for Medicare. Those attacks are starting to bear fruit for Obama, who is gaining ground among seniors in two key battlegrounds: Florida and Ohio. Still, Romney has the edge nationally among seniors — in no small part thanks to seniors’ concerns about Obama’s handling of the economy (Lederman, 9/27).

The New York Times: Obama Fills In Blanks Of Romney’s Plans, And GOP Sees Falsehoods
The Obama campaign has run advertisements charging that Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan “could raise seniors’ costs up to $6,400 a year” … The outdated charge that future Medicare beneficiaries could face $6,400 in higher costs comes from an analysis of an old proposal by Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, that has since been revised (Cooper, 9/27).

Politico: What Obama Isn’t Saying About Medicare
As Woodward explains in “The Price of Politics,” Obama was willing to make significant changes to the cherished federal health care plan for seniors last year as part of a grand bargain with congressional Republicans. And 2011 was hardly the first time Obama considered confronting the costly and popular program; it’s also highly likely it won’t be the last if he’s reelected (Martin, 9/27).

Los Angeles Times: Obama And Romney Campaigns Take Battle To Virginia
Both candidates are heavily targeting women in Virginia, particularly in the northern suburbs of Washington, where Romney campaigned Thursday. Democrats are accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women” by targeting reproductive rights. They point to a measure that failed in the Virginia Legislature this year that would have required trans-vaginal ultrasounds before a woman could have an abortion. … Outside groups are also weighing in, airing ads that feature Romney’s vow this year to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood (Mehta, Reston and Memoli, 9/27).

CQ HealthBeat: Families USA Report Says Americans Would Pay More, Be Less Likely To Have Coverage Under Romney
Tens of millions more people would be uninsured and Americans would pay thousands of dollars more each year for their coverage under Mitt Romney’s health proposals than under President Obama’s health care law, according to a report released Thursday by Families USA, the left-leaning group that strongly backs the overhaul. Entitled “ObamaCare versus RomneyCare versus RomneyCandidateCare,” the report compares the health care law with the Massachusetts overhaul passed when Romney was the state’s governor and to proposals he has laid out as the Republican candidate for president (Bunis, 9/27).

The Hill: Study: Families Would Pay More For Health Care Under Romney
Families would pay nearly twice as much for non-group health insurance under a President Romney than under President Obama, according to a new report from the liberal advocacy group Families USA. The study found that Mitt Romney’s pledges to repeal the 2010 healthcare law, create a health insurance tax deduction and block-grant Medicaid would result in higher coverage costs and more uninsured Americans (Viebeck, 9/27).

Health News Florida: Economists Prefer Former Romney
In Florida, the number of uninsured would grow by 500,000 by the end of Romney’s first term, instead of dropping by 2.5 million if President Barack Obama is re-elected and the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, they said. The [Families USA] report was written by economists who helped design or implement the Massachusetts Health Insurance Law, signed by then-Gov. Romney in 2006 (Gentry, 9/27).

Also in the news –

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Does Not Need To Be Unmuzzled, Paul Ryan Says
[T]he Wisconsin congressman pointed out that he has concentrated his efforts on interviews with regional reporters … But Ryan has not avoided places where he is likely to encounter hostile crowds. Last week, he gave a speech to the national AARP convention in New Orleans, where he was booed for advocating the repeal of the president’s healthcare law and the restructuring of Medicare for future retirees (Abcarian, 9/27).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Broker Bill Gets House Energy And Commerce Committee OK

English: Harry Reid speaking at the State Chil...

English: Harry Reid speaking at the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Art Exhibit Press Conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Barrow, U.S. Congressman.

John Barrow, U.S. Congressman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Politics, Health Reform

Sep 21, 2012

The House panel approved legislation that would modify the health law’s medical loss ratio provision to protect the earnings of insurance brokers and agents.

CQ HealthBeat: Health Insurance Broker, Secondary Payer Bills Advance In House
A House panel signed off on controversial legislation Thursday that would modify a consumer protection provision in the 2010 health care overhaul. The measure, which the Energy and Commerce Committee approved 26-14, would amend the law’s provision on medical loss ratios (MLR) in an effort to protect the earnings of insurance brokers and agents. John Barrow of Georgia was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of the bill, while all of the panel’s Republicans supported it (Khatami, 9/20).

Politico Pro: Energy And Commerce OKs Broker Bill
In the end, Rep. John Barrow found himself all out on his own. Barrow (D-Ga.), the co-sponsor of a bill shielding agent and broker commissions from the health care law’s medical loss ratio requirement, was the only Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who voted to advance the bill Thursday. The committee approved the bill on a 26-14 vote. But it’s likely to have much more Democratic support if it gets to the full House floor. The agent and broker groups say their livelihoods are threatened by the ACA’s limits on what insurers can spend using premium dollars, besides the actual cost of medical care. By lumping in broker commissions with insurers’ administrative spending, the groups say their members have seen their revenue cut between 20 and 50 percent and have suffered job losses as a direct result (Millman, 9/20).

Also, a House oversight committee takes a long look at alleged Medicaid overpayments to the state of New York —

The Wall Street Journal: State Accused Of $15 Billion Fraud Scheme
A congressional oversight committee on Thursday accused New York of overbilling Medicaid by billions of dollars by inflating reimbursement payments to its state-run institutions for the mentally disabled. In a scathing report, the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said New York overcharged taxpayers by $15 billion since 1990 (Gershman, 9/20).

CQ HealthBeat: Medicaid Official Defends Work To Limit Overpayments In New York
Republicans who called a hearing planning to grill an Obama administration official about Medicaid overpayments to New York State instead ended up praising the Democratic administration’s work. Medicaid has grossly overpaid New York to house developmentally disabled beneficiaries, and that money has not yet been recouped. However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem satisfied at the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing that Obama’s Medicaid officials are dealing with the issue, which predated this administration (Adams, 9/20).

In other news, National Journal reports that health lobbyists are working hard to persuade lawmakers to delay the automatic $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts generated by last year’s debt ceiling deal. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports on a delay in the Senate regarding a vote on the short-term spending bill to keep government operating.

National Journal: Health Lobbyists Swarming On The Hill
The impending sequestration cuts are not lost on health care lobbyists, who are undertaking an intense effort to persuade Congress to stop them, National Journal Daily reports today. … Although most of Washington expects that Congress will delay the automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts to government spending before the end of this year, health lobbying groups from myriad industries are taking the threat seriously. And they are letting lawmakers and their staff know about the consequences of letting the automatic cuts hit–making their case directly to politicians, rather than to the voters who will decide whether to keep them in office. One point that bolsters the lobbyists’ argument? Jobs (McCarthy and Catalini, 9/20).

The Washington Post: Senate Delays Votes On Short-Term Spending Bill
There appears to be no doubt on the final passage of a bill to provide funding for government agencies when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Federal spending would be capped at $1.047 trillion, a limit agreed to last summer as part of the bipartisan debt ceiling negotiations. The bill cleared a key procedural vote Wednesday. But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) began threatening to hold votes on final passage this weekend after Republicans objected to his plans to hold a vote on Paul’s proposal (O’Keefe, 9/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Presidential Campaigns Vie For Specific Voting Blocs

English: Official portrait of US Senator Marco...

English: Official portrait of US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Politics, Women’s Health, Medicare, Health Reform, States

Sep 20, 2012

The New York Times reports that young adults  are up for grabs in several key states. Meanwhile, both candidates are courting Hispanics. The Washington Post reports that President Barack Obama is hoping women voters give him the edge in Virginia.

The New York Times: Struggling Young Adults Pose Challenge For Campaigns
Millions of struggling working-class young adults, many in battleground states like Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin, are up for grabs in this election, making up what experts call one of the most potentially powerful but often overlooked voting blocs (Saulny, 9/19).

The Washington Post: To Claim Virginia, Obama’s Hopes Rest On Women
This year, however, ginning up female support has become an imperative for Obama in his reelection bid. Across the electoral map, the Obama campaign is banking on women to offset an expected loss to Romney among men. In few places, if any, does that effort appear to be succeeding as well as it is in the Old Dominion. That is in part a reaction to heavy-handed Republican moves on reproductive issues, but it also reflects an apparent affinity that women feel with Obama on economic concerns (Tumulty and Clement, 9/19).

Politico: Emily’s List Super PAC Raises $2 Million
Schriock said the quality of women candidates this year combined with the Republican agenda to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion in all cases has the group’s energies up this year (Parti, 9/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hispanics The Focus Thursday As Obama Pushes To Keep Romney On Defensive
Battling the perception that he’s not working hard enough, Romney on Thursday announced plans to launch a three-day bus tour across Ohio next week. His campaign also released a new ad featuring Florida Sen. Marco Rubio … promoting Romney’s plans to overhaul Medicare. The candidates’ personal attention to Hispanic voters, backed by millions of dollars in targeted advertising, is designed to influence a group likely to play a critical role this fall — and for years to come (9/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Joe Biden und Barack Obama in Springfield, Ill...

Joe Biden und Barack Obama in Springfield, Illinois, right after Biden was formerly introduced by Obama as his running mate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As GOP Convention Picks Up, Health Issues Draw Attention

Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2008

Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a GOP p...

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a GOP presidential hopeful, campaigns May 9 in Ames. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Medicaid, Politics, Health Reform, States

Aug 28, 2012

News outlets report on how the most conservative Republicans are uniting around Mitt Romney, even as he appears more open to embracing the Massachusetts health law he signed while that state’s governor.

The Wall Street Journal: The Right Unites Behind Romney
Conservatives have cheered the official Republican Party platform, but Democrats are trying to use it to paint Mr. Romney as out-of-step with the rest of the country. The Romney campaign has given conservatives occasional reasons to panic. A senior adviser told CNN during the primaries that Mr. Romney would “hit the reset button” once he locked up the nomination, famously comparing the general-election fight to an Etch a Sketch. … This past weekend, Mr. Romney cited the health-care law he signed as Massachusetts governor as an example of his support for women’s health-care issues. Conservatives dislike the law because it requires individuals to secure health insurance, like the federal law that Mr. Obama signed in 2010. … Yet there’s plenty for conservatives to like in the platform Republicans are expected to release this week, a kind of formal mission statement for the party (O’Connor, 8/27).

The Hill: Romney Book Distributed At GOP Convention Contains Pro-Health Care Reform Content
Copies of Mitt Romney’s book, distributed at the GOP convention, retain a sentiment anathema to the GOP base — that the Massachusetts healthcare reform law could be a model for the nation. The sentence that makes this case was changed for No Apology’s paperback version, but reporters in Tampa received copies with the original wording along with other swag. On page 177 of those copies, Romney writes that “portable, affordable health insurance” can be achieved “for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over healthcare” (Viebeck, 8/27).

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: The Republican Plan To Overhaul Health Care
The 2008 Republican party platform on Medicare and Medicaid was pretty vanilla. It called for minor tweaks to the program that just about any health wonk could get behind, things like better coordination between doctors and more vigilance against fraud. The whole section came in at about 200 words. Politico has obtained a draft of the 2012 proposal and, for health care, four years has meant a sea change. The Republican party now throws its weight behind a complete restructuring of both entitlement programs (Kliff, 8/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan ‘Roadmap’ Blazed Rocky Trail To Prominence
The initial version of (Paul Ryan’s) “Roadmap for America’s Future,” in summer 2008, was treated as an afterthought by party leaders, and some were openly hostile. Fearful of political backlash, just eight Republicans signed up for his conservative wish list: rewrite the tax code, scrap employer-based health care, rework Medicare and Social Security. Today, many of Mr. Ryan’s ideas have become the de facto Republican Party platform (O’Connor, 8/27).

Looking ahead to a possible Romney administration, who would get key staff jobs? Politico offers insights.

Politico: Who’s On The Inside Track For A Romney Cabinet
Mitt Romney said his Cabinet and White House staff will be stacked with men and women from the business world, but his top advisers sketched out for POLITICO a team comprised of many familiar faces in Washington. Already on the inside track: several veterans of George W. Bush’s administration and a number of women — but not necessarily a single Democrat, … And one name advisers return to time and again is a person little-known to most Americans: Mike Leavitt, a fellow Mormon who is creating a government-in-waiting plan for Romney. Leavitt is the prototypical Romney Cabinet pick — loyal, low-key and diligent, just the kind of person Romney likes to surround himself with. Leavitt did two jobs for Bush: ran the Environmental Protection Agency and the Health and Human Services Department and is a lock for one of the most important jobs if he wants it — White House chief of staff or Treasury secretary, the advisers said (Allen and Vandehei, 8/28).

Meanwhile, during convention speeches, television ads will offer counterpoints and arguments —

The Associated Press: Between Convention Speeches Come The Campaign Ads
President Barack Obama is “taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers.” Mitt Romney would bring “an end to the Medicare promise.” … Outside the halls for the two national party conventions, the candidates and their deep-pocketed allied groups are airing millions of dollars of television commercials — regardless of whether they are factual or not — to reinforce the messages sure to be delivered within (Bakst, 8/28).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.