Morning CheckUp: December 20, 2011

Ryan/Wyden avoid health reform: “The highly controversial Medicare reform plan unveiled by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) last week would give seniors the choice of staying in traditional fee-for-service or choosing a plan from a newly created Medicare exchange, but the duo deflected questions about how the plan would build on the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, indicating that the controversial law that the senator supports and the congressman wants to repeal stayed off the table during their deliberations on the proposal.” [Inside Health Policy]

CMS rejects Michigan’s MLR request: “Michigan will not receive an adjustment to the healthcare reform law’s medical-loss-ratio standard that requires health plans to spend 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care, a CMS official announced Monday.” [Modern Healthcare]

Medicare cuts could hit poorest hospitals hardest: “Medicare is preparing to penalize hospitals with frequent potentially avoidable readmissions, which by one estimate cost the government $12 billion a year. Medicare’s aim is to prod hospitals to make sure patients get the care they need after discharge. But this new policy is likely to disproportionately affect hospitals that treat the most low-income patients, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.” [Kaiser Health News]

CMS advances accountable care organizations: “The Department of Health and Human Services designated 32 health systems part of a partnership with Medicare to encourage the formation of networks known as ‘accountable care organizations.’ Participating hospitals earn bonus payments if they save Medicare as much as $1.1 billion over five years by streamlining care without reducing quality, for example by reducing admissions of chronically ill people.” [Businessweek]

Nevada judge allows ‘personhood’ amendment to proceed: “Abortion-rights supporters cheered a Nevada judge’s determination Monday that controversial ‘personhood’ proposals would limit women’s access to basic healthcare services. Critics of the personhood approach argue that it goes far beyond abortion, and some social conservatives agree. A judge lent further support to that argument Monday by rewriting a proposed ballot initiative in Nevada.” [Sam Baker]