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Will Emphasis On Prevention Bring Health Costs Down?

Kaiser Health News reports that "If there is one thing that both parties can agree on in the health overhaul debate, it's the need to build a health system that promotes prevention rather than just manages disease." Proposals currently being debated in Congress would require "Medicare and private health insurers to fully cover preventive services such as checkups and screening tests for cancer without any patient co-payments or deductibles." President Obama maintains that "prevention measures can save lives and limit health spending, " and such a provision is "one of the eight consumer protections he wants in any health overhaul legislation.

Plans To Control Doctors' Pay Big Issue In Massachusetts

Massachusetts officials are proud of their low rate of uninsured people, but the state also hosts the highest health care costs in the country, a problem that jeopardizes their achievement in expanding coverage, NPR's Morning Edition reports. A commission charged with overseeing the insurance plan for 310, 000 government workers recently voted - unanimously - that doing away with the current, fee-for-service model for paying doctors was the first step to controlling those costs. "Massachusetts policymakers want to replace fee-for-service with 'global payment' - paying groups of health providers a flat yearly fee for each patient they cover, " NPR reports (Knox, 8/5).

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Health Bills Create Tension Over Abortion Coverage

The Associated Press reports: "Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue. Federal funds for abortions are now restricted to cases involving rape, incest or danger to the health of the mother. Abortion opponents say those restrictions should carry over to any health insurance sold through a new marketplace envisioned under the legislation, an exchange where people would choose private coverage or the public plan. Abortion rights supporters say that would have the effect of denying coverage for abortion to millions of women who now have it through workplace insurance and are expected to join the exchange.

Lawmakers Face Angry Constituents In Town Hall Meetings

News organizations continue to cover contentious town hall meetings. NPR : "Many of the events this week appear to have been organized by conservative groups. A new Web site is called 'Operation Embarrass Your Congressman.' A widely circulated memo tells right-wing protesters how to treat their representative: 'Make him uneasy... stand up and shout out, and sit right back down... rattle him.'" The man who wrote the memo belongs to the conservative group Tea Party Patriots. "But the memo makes clear what the protesters are aiming for - press coverage of voter outrage, even as polls continue to show that a majority of Americans support overhauling the health care system.

Abortion Coverage Under Health Reform Creating Tension For Some Catholics

The "tension" between the Roman Catholic Church's commitment to caring for the poor and its opposition to abortion has "resonated" with many Catholics across the U.S., as they consider health reform legislation in Congress and how it fits in with Catholic teachings, the Wall Street Journal reports. Although most Catholic groups that have weighed in on the health-reform debate agree that the U.S. system needs to be changed to provide more health care for the poor, they are conflicted over whether they can support a plan that they believe would expand access to abortion services. There is also concern that reform legislation would result in requirements on Catholic hospitals serving patients who are covered by health insurance purchased through an exchange to offer referrals for abortion services, a situation that occurred in Massachusetts in the spring of 2009.

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In Health Care Debate, Small Businesses Are Key

"As they work to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, President Obama and his congressional allies have pledged to help small-business owners such as Rhonda Ealy and Kelli Glasser, " The Los Angeles Times reports. "Both businesswomen desperately want help. But they have strongly divergent views about what Washington should do, reflecting a broader debate about how to relieve the burden on the nation's roughly 6 million small businesses." Ealy owns a coffee roasting company in Bend, Ore. with 13 employees, she says she "loves a Democratic proposal to create a government-run insurance plan, which she hopes will allow her to get her employees better coverage for less.

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