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.

Children's Advocates Voice Anxiety About SCHIP Renewal

Congress is not proceeding on a renewal of children's health insurance as quickly as some advocates would like, causing worries that the program might expire.

CMS: Seven Private Fee-for-Service Plans to Suspend Marketing

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that seven insurers with the lion's share of the Medicare private fee-for-service plan market have agreed to suspend marketing of the plans. The announcement follows hundreds of complaints by Medicare beneficiaries that they were duped or strong-armed by sales agents into joining the plans without understanding how they worked or the restrictions involved. CMS said the plans will be able to resume marketing when the agency certifies they have controls in place to prevent deceptive marketing.

Consensus Emerging on Need for New Board to Determine 'What Works' in Medicine

Lawmakers and witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing agreed on the need for a public–private entity that would oversee research to determine which treatment approach works best for a particular medical condition.

'Make More Money Act' Might Need Renaming

Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike could find that the views of Wall Street analysts have much to offer as they consider Medicare payment revisions in coming weeks. Democrats with an eye on cutting payments to private health plans in Medicare will be interested to learn that from "the Street's" point of view, the plans are making lots of money. Republicans, on the other hand, could be chagrined to learn that the sales growth of Health Savings Accounts, a type of plan they view as key to braking the nation's rising health costs, appears to be tapering off.

MedPAC Report Proposes Efficiency Measures

Establishing an independent entity that would sponsor research on comparative effectiveness of health care services, equalizing payment rates between Medicare Advantage and Medicare's traditional fee-for-service plan, and making changes to other Medicare payment systems are among the recommendations the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) included in its June report sent to Congress.

Study Shows Wide State Variance in Health Care

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System indicates states vary widely in health care quality, cost, and access. If all states could perform as well as the top-rated ones, 90,000 lives could be saved annually, 22 million additional adults and children would have health insurance, and millions of older adults, diabetics, and young children would receive essential preventative care, the study found.