Morning CheckUp: September 7, 2011

Health advocates concerned about HHS rules: Consumer advocates “point to a long-sought provision in the law that entitles patients to an external review if an insurer won’t pay for a medical service, but charge that recent regulations limit its effectiveness.” [Kaiser Health News]

Why we need comparative effectiveness research: “Medicare could have saved more than $1 billion and Medicare patients $275 million over two years if doctors treated a serious eye disease with Genentech’s Avastin instead of the company’s similar but more expensive drug Lucentis, according to a new government audit.” [WSJ]

Conservatives step-up battle against birth control: “It used to be that opposition to publicly funded birth control was linked to abortion. Either the birth control in question allegedly caused abortion, or the organization providing the birth control also performed abortions. But that’s changing.” [Julie Rovner]

Kansas moving forward with abortion regs: “Kansas health officials moved ahead Tuesday with work designed to preserve new regulations for abortion providers despite a legal challenge in federal court that so far has blocked their enforcement.” [AP]


Pushing for better affordability standards: Health proponents are urging the administration to tweak last months’ regulations, which would preclude families that spend more than 9.5 percent on coverage from accessing federal subsidies. “The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt and Gary Claxton, for example, suggest that regulators look at a family’s size and income and then determine whether employer-sponsored coverage is affordable. Another “hybrid” approach would be to calculate affordability for the worker and his or her family separately.” [Julian Pecquet]

Energy and Commerce releases agenda: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health panel will spend the fall focused on healthcare reform regulations and preparing for a major Food and Drug Administration bill.” [Sam Baker]

Mississippi, Colorado plan for soft launch of exchange: “Some states in the process of developing insurance exchanges are planning on launching them prior to the Jan. 1, 2014, operational deadline set by the health reform law…The official leading the creation of Colorado’s exchange says the state is aiming for a ‘soft launch’ in July 2013, and Mississippi insurance department officials also say they plan to have an exchange operational sometime next year.” [Rachana Dixit]

States are changing the way health care is governed: Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington are revamping the way they administer health care policy in an effort to slow down costs. [Stateline]

Smoking rates down, but still above federal goals: “The number of adult Americans who smoke is on the decline again after several years of little change, and those who smoke are puffing fewer cigarettes a day.” [WSJ]