Morning CheckUp: July 7, 2011

Welcome to Morning CheckUp, ThinkProgress Health’s 7:00 AM round-up of the latest in health policy and politics. Here is what we’re reading, what are you?

Bill Clinton says Dems could have done a better job selling reform: “You’ve got to do more to connect the dots,” Clinton said at yesterday’s Campus Progress conference. Right before the elections, health insurance companies “raised the premiums through the roof. And they said, ‘Oh, we hate to do this … but this Obamacare is so uncertain,” he said. Then they released their financial statements for 2009 — before the passage of the law — “and you know what happened in 2009? The for-profit insurance companies’ profits increased in that horrible year 26 percent,” Clinton said. “You cannot turn truth into power if you don’t have the facts and people don’t connect the dots.” [Politico]

Study finds variation in Medicaid spending: “In the nation’s mid-Atlantic region — identified as New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — a combination of high service volume and, to a lesser degree, high prices, led to the most-expensive regional care, while lower prices and volume in the South Central region of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas produced the least-expensive care.” [Modern Healthcare]

Texas sonogram law questioned: “An abortion rights group on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks to halt enforcement of the state’s new pre-abortion sonogram law, saying it is unconstitutionally vague and an improper intrusion on doctors’ free speech rights.” The judge also described a a provision that allows state regulators to randomly inspect abortion facilities as “a little troubling to me.” [Bellingham Herald]


Santorum has an easy solution for the health crisis: “All we needed was to give people the same tax benefit as employed people,” he explained during a recent stop in Iowa. [WCF Courier]

Orlando Sentinel criticizes Florida for turning down health care funds: “Florida is in no position to be turning down health-care help. More than one in five state residents is without insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And legislators cut funding for Medicaid and other health-care programs by more than $1 billion in the budget they approved in May.” [Orlando Sentinel]

How Obama’s ‘blended rate’ reforms undermine Medicaid expansion: “The biggest change would be to reimburse states at the same rate for all their Medicaid patients, unlike now, where states get a different rate for different populations, such as children or seniors….The blended rate would result in states having to pay a lot more for people who become eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.” [Richard Kirsch]

CA senate committee approves rate review bill: The measure, which requires insurers to receive approval from regulators before imposing a rate increase, now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee because the proposed regulations are estimated to cost at least $30 million per year. [SFgate]

Medicaid does help poor people: “When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid. “ [NYT]


Conrad’s budget doesn’t “savage” health programs: “It has a very small, 10-year effect on Medicare and on Medicaid, it does not savage it,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters after the meeting. “The cuts there — I can’t remember the number — but when you compare it to the Paul Ryan budget, there’s a dramatic difference.” [The Hill]