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Morning CheckUp: November 23, 2011

Democrats seek to extend SGR fix: “The Democratic Party leadership in the House of Representatives is calling for an extension of the sustainable growth-rate Medicare payment formula “fix” in order to delay a scheduled 27.4% slash in provider reimbursement that will take effect in January unless Congress acts.” [Modern Healthcare]

NAIC asks Congress to reduce MLR rebates: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has passed a measure calling on Congress to “consider bills that would exempt insurance agents’ commissions from insurers’ medical loss ratios (MLR).” [Sam Baker]

Herman Cain finally signs anti-abortion pledge: “Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has signed an anti-abortion pledge penned by a major conservative group….Cain signed the pledge Tuesday, about a month after he appeared to contradict his own abortion position during a televised interview. “ [NewsCore]

Gingrich would pay for Social Security privatization with Medicaid cuts: “Former House speaker Newt Gingrich laid out a plan yesterday that would give Americans the option of having a personal Social Security account … To pay for the transition period, Gingrich would transform 185 federal programs that help the poor, including Medicaid, into block grants to the states.” [Boston Globe]

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Employers increasingly relying on high-deductible plans: “U.S. employers, struggling to contain rising healthcare costs, are expanding their use of high-deductible insurance plans, which help reduce monthly insurance premiums by shifting a greater share of medical expenses to workers, a new survey shows.” [LA Times]

Emergency room doctors and payment reform: “In a new editorial in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, several emergency physicians warn of the challenges of incorporating what ER docs do into new models that move away from the current fee-for-service payment to an episode-of-care approach that reimburses providers for caring for a population of patients over time.” [WSJ]