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.

New Payment Rules Promote Accuracy, CMS Says

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials trumpeted new payment rules as helping to ensure the long-term survival of Medicare by increasing the accuracy of payments for inpatient hospital care, rehabilitation treatment, and care in skilled nursing facilities.

Study: Improving Retention in SCHIP and Medicaid Would Lower Number of Uninsured Children

Retaining children enrolled in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program would reduce, by one-third, the number of uninsured children in the United States, according to a new Health Affairs study.

Study: Less than Half of Americans Are Happy with Their Health Care

Less than half of Americans are fully satisfied with their medical care, according to a report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The Champ Act's Tale of the Tape

The latest scoring documents from the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of House provisions expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program at $47.8 billion over five years, and $159.9 billion over 10 years. The other main element of the House measure (HR 3162)—blocking big Medicare payment cuts to doctors—would cost a surprisingly low $20.1 billion over five years to erase payment cuts in 2008 and 2009, and replace them each year with 0.5 percent payment increases. But the 10-year cost of fixing doctor payments in those two years is five times higher—$101 billion.

Thinking Big at Brookings

Trustees of the Brookings Institution aim to make major changes in the U.S. health care system and insist that a new center they've funded for that purpose won't just hatch big ideas, but will oversee bold action to put those changes in practice. The man they've picked to run the show may seem like an odd choice for a think tank more identified with Democrats and the left than Republicans and the right: former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Mark B. McClellan.

Tough Negotiations Ahead on Children's Health Care Expansion, Medicare

The Senate passed a $35 billion expansion of a children's health insurance program, setting up a difficult negotiation with the House and a probable veto by President Bush. The House passed a broad bill Aug. 1 that included a larger expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), plus changes to Medicare—notably a cut in spending for managed care plans that participate in the entitlement, plus a reversal of a scheduled cut to physicians' Medicare reimbursements.