Morning CheckUp: September 8, 2011

Perry attacks RomneyCare in debate: “I’ll tell you what the people of the state of Texas don’t want, they don’t want a health care plan like Gov. Romney (did) in the state of Massachusetts…We would not have that many people uninsured in the state of Texas if you did not have the federal government (in the way),” Perry said 20 minutes into last night’s debate. {Politico]

Blames federal government for high number of uninsured: “We’ve had a request in for years at Department of Health and Human Services to have that type of flexibility, where we could have menus, where we could have co-pays, and the federal government refuses to give us that flexibility,” Perry said. “We know for a fact that, given that freedom, the states can do a better job at delivering that healthcare and you’d see more people — not just in Texas, but across the country, have access to better healthcare.” [Sam Baker]

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee detail health savings for the super committee: “Instituting a market basket freeze for post-acute providers in fiscal 2012 and 2013, recouping Medicare overpayments to nursing homes from this fiscal year and incorporating value-based purchasing and a readmissions program for skilled-nursing facilities are among the new potential deficit-cutting health care savings that the debt limit “super committee” may consider in the coming month.” [Inside Health Policy] Read the full list here.

Government cracks down on fraud: The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has filed charges “against 91 defendants, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $295 million in false billing.” [HHS]


Medical inflation is eating up income gains: A new study published in the September issue of Health Affairs found that “the annual income of the average American family of four increased to $99,000 in 2009 from $76,000 in 1999. But nearly all that increased income was consumed by higher healthcare costs. [Modern Healthcare]

Fewer seniors are falling into the doughnut hole: “The number of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D drug plans that fall into the “doughnut hole” — a coverage gap that requires enrollees who do not qualify for a low-income subsidy to pay the full cost of their drugs — has decreased from 26% in 2007 to 19% in 2009, according to a study.” [Modern Healthcare]

Study finds increases in number of underinsured: The number of underinsured adults — those with health insurance all year, but also with very high medical expenses relative to their incomes — rose by 80 percent between 2003–2010, from 16 million to 29 million, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study published in the September issue of Health Affairs. Nearly half (44%) of U.S. adults — 81 million people — were either underinsured or uninsured in 2010, up from 75 million in 2007 and 61 million in 2003. [Commonwealth Fund]

Abortion docs suing Kansas over clinic regulations say they may drop suit: An attorney for two doctors who are suing block strict new Kansas regulations for abortion providers said Wednesday that they would consider dropping their case if the state Department of Health and Environment scaled back the requirements. [AP]

Congress opts out of considering Wyden-Brown opt out bill: “The Republican presidential candidates have been pushing for a state-based approach to health reform — but a Senate proposal to allow that to happen through the national health reform law has vanished from the congressional agenda. That’s because the proposal — a bipartisan bill by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — didn’t allow the sweeping Medicaid changes Republicans want and didn’t come along at a time when either party wanted to reopen the health care law.” [Politico]


Woman whose husband joined Army to get health coverage dies from cancer: “In 2009, the Watertown, Wis., family made international news when Bill Caudle, laid off from the plastics company where he’d worked for 20 years, and facing dramatic increases in the cost of health insurance, took the unusual step of signing up for a four-year stint in the Army. His decision meant that in order to get coverage for Michelle, he would have to leave her side for the first time in her then three-year battle with cancer.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Health reform may lead to more jobs in health industry: A new study found that “health-care employment climbed 9.5 percent per capita in Massachusetts from December 2005 to September 2010, outpacing 5.5 percent growth in the rest of the U.S.” “New jobs in administration drove rising health-care employment, wrote Douglas Staiger, an economist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and colleagues.” [Bloomberg]