Morning CheckUp: August 4, 2011

Health providers in cross hairs of deficit ceiling cuts: “This is a very serious problem for us,’’ said Dr. Lynda Young, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “Obviously we recognize the need for cost cutting, but the depth of the projected cuts is really going to have a serious impact on access. Physicians are going to say, ‘We can’t take any new Medicare patients because we just can’t survive.’ [Boston Globe]

Trigger better than super committee: “For starters, Medicaid is insulated from the trigger mechanism. So groups that are focused more on Medicaid than Medicare have more to lose from the supercommittee. And the same could be true for some sectors mostly concerned with Medicare.” [Sam Baker]

Or maybe not: “Many of the pots of money in the law — one of the Democrats’ most prized pieces of legislation — could get trimmed by the debt deal’s sequestration, or triggered cuts. The funds for prevention programs and community health centers, grants to help states set up insurance exchanges and co-ops, and money to help states review insurance rates could be slashed across the board if the panel can’t find enough cuts this fall.” [Jen Haberkorn]

And then there is this: “The Partnership for America called on Congress’ newly created “Super Committee” today to repeal and replace the President’s health care law as a first step towards achieving its task of making large reductions in government spending.” [Partnership For America]


Another health reform challenge tossed out: “The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s decision to toss out a healthcare reform challenge from a New Jersey doctor and one of his patients.” [Julian Pecquet]

Anti-choice voter fraud: A Milwaukee County prosecutor is examining allegations that the anti-choice group Wisconsin Right to Life and Family Action offered gift cards valued at $25 to $75 to volunteers who hit targets for persuading voters to fill out absentee ballot applications in the recall primary elections held last month. [Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel]

New HIV/AIDS data: “While the number of people infected with HIV each year is relatively steady — approximately 50,000 new infections each year — there was a 48 percent increase in the number of young HIV-infected African American men who have sex with men from 2006 to 2009.” The government says “the current level of HIV incidence in the United States is likely not sustainable,” since the large and growing number of people living with HIV infections means more people can transmit the virus. [NPR]

Hospitals cost Medicare more than they save: A new study comparing outcomes for patients cared for by primary care physicians and hospitals finds that “while the hospitalists’ patients indeed had shorter hospital stays, they were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, or to visit an emergency room within that first month.” [Julie Rovner]

Massachusetts hospitals to profit from ACA: “Hospitals in Massachusetts will reap an annual windfall of $275 million due to a loophole enshrined in the new health care law. Hospitals in most other states will get less money as a result.” [AP]


Essential benefits should include consumer protections: “HHS’ essential health benefits package should contain strong patient protections that will safeguard those navigating and enrolling in qualified health plans, recommend stakeholders who represent patients with chronic conditions and disabilities.” [Inside Health Policy]

Chubbier boomers will cost Medicare: “The first of the baby boomers are turning 65 this year and enrolling in Medicare. One-third are obese. An additional 36 percent are overweight. With obesity comes other related health issues, such as diabetes and hypertension.” [Tampa Tribune]