Washington Health Policy Week in Review

Washington Health Policy Week in Review is a weekly newsletter that offers selected stories from the daily newsletter CQ HealthBeat.

Centers Claim Big Savings from Delivering Primary Care

The lobby that represents community health centers made a pitch for legislation sharply increasing federal funding for those facilities, saying they offer a brand of health care far less costly than what's given in traditional doctors' offices. Primary care services provided by the centers result in per-patient medical expenses 41 percent lower than for patients seen in other settings, said a study released by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

House Lawmakers Introduce Long-Term Care Insurance Bill

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced legislation (HR 3363) that would permit long-term care insurance to be included in employer-sponsored cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts, allowing people to pay long-term care insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars.

Medicare Quality Improvement Stagnating, Senators Complain

Max Baucus, D-Mont., was soothing in his assessment while Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, was gruff, but the Senate Finance Committee leaders agreed on one thing in the marks they handed out to Medicare's Quality Improvement Organizations: "QIOs" need to be shaken up to live up to their names. A bill they introduced last week aims to do that by prescribing a heavy dose of competition and splitting up their functions to improve QIO performance.

Norwalk Weighs in on SCHIP, Potential Medicare Advantage Cuts

The reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) may be less than the five years envisioned by House and Senate legislation, and the reduction in Medicare payments to managed care plans lower than those proposed in the House package, former acting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Leslie V. Norwalk said.

Paper Urges Presidential Candidates to Make Tough Choices on Health Care

Candidates for the 2008 presidential election should prepare themselves and voters for the tough choices that must be made to control rising health care costs, urge a panel of political and budget experts in a new paper from the Brookings Institution.

The SCHIP Challenge: Finding Funding

House and Senate Democrats brushed off a veto threat from President Bush and some fierce Republican opposition to pass ambitious expansions of children's health insurance coverage. But Democratic leaders face difficult negotiations ahead over how to pay for the enlarged program.