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Political Cartoon: 'Snowed In'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh perspective on health policy developments with "Snowed In" by Mike Keefe. This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Pay-For-Performance In Healthcare

Although the idea of pay-for-performance (P4P) is popular among healthcare policy makers and private insurers, the results do not necessarily translate to the patient. A new study from the RAND Journal of Economics analyzes performance reports from medical groups who worked with a large network HMO which has been compiling quality data since 1993, pre-P4P. Lead researcher Kathleen J. Mullen says, "In the end, we failed to find evidence that a large P4P initiative either resulted in major improvement in quality or notable disruption in care.". So how did policy makers and medical providers arrive at this miscalculation? A 2003 RAND study by Elizabeth McGlynn and colleagues found that on average American patients receive only fifty-five percent of recommended care.

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Today's OpEds: Questioning Transparency, The Bipartisan Summit And Starting Anew

Claims Of Backroom Deals A Distraction Politico Hours of health care debate were broadcast on C-SPAN for the dozen or so Americans who were watching. Some of the negotiations were not broadcast, but why demand of the health reform bill a level of transparency not required of any other legislation? Does anyone know what is in the most recent farm bill, which costs two-thirds as much as the health reform legislation will? (Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, 2/9). The Summit Gambit The Wall Street Journal The true White House purpose is to create a Republican foil. ObamaCare has sunk under its own weight, so the idea is to revive it by suggesting that the choice is between it and GOP ideas.

Budget Issues: Kansas To Downsize Hospitals For Disabled; Nevada May Cut Enrollment In Programs For Mentally Ill And Seniors

Kansas Health Institute reports on downsizing at hospitals for the developmentally disabled: "Admissions to Kansas Neurological Institute will be halted this summer and restricted at Parsons State Hospital, the state's top welfare agency official said today. Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, announced those decisions Monday before the House Social Services Budget Committee. Last year, the state's two hospitals for people with developmental disabilities recorded 20 admissions - two at KNI; 18 at Parsons. ... Jordan said he expects the moves to take about three years. A committee made up of hospital officials and advocates for the developmentally disabled will spend the summer developing new admission standards for the hospitals.

Nurses Blast 39 Anthem Blue Cross Rate Hike Stronger Medicine Needed To End Insurance Abuses

The nation's largest union and professional organization of registered nurses, National Nurses United, joined the national condemnation of Anthem Blue Cross for imposing rate hikes of up to 39 percent for Californians with individual policies, but said the outrage must "go beyond words to action to end insurance abuses once and for all." "Anthem's disgraceful behavior may be particularly offensive, but it is not out of character for an industry engages systemically in price gouging and denial of care, " said NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN. "Condemnation is well deserved, but not enough. We need stronger medicine to cure what ails our healthcare system by removing the ability of insurance companies to indiscriminately price people out of access to care, and routinely deny claims they don't want to pay.

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Insurer To Take New Role In Assessing Cancer Treatments

UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation's biggest insurance companies, has decided to take a more active role in the care of its policy holders who are being treated for several types of cancer, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company "has started sending doctors individualized reports assessing their treatment of breast, lung and colorectal cancer patients. The reports show that while breast-cancer patients generally receive care that conforms to professional protocols, treatments given for colorectal and lung cancer tend to fail to meet expert recommendations more often." Cancer patients cost the firm $2.5 billion a year, a number surpassed only by the costs of cardiovascular disease treatment and orthopedic surgeries.

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