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.

Democrats Dig in Against Health Care Outcry

The outspoken, sometimes rowdy opposition at town hall meetings this month so far isn't causing many congressional Democrats to back away from plans to pass sweeping health care overhaul legislation this year. Interviews with about a dozen Democratic House members reveal they think a lot of the loud criticism they have encountered over the August recess has been ginned up by Republicans, conservative commentators, or groups spending large sums of money to try to derail President Obama's top legislative priority.

Bolder Action Needed to Bend Cost Curve, Coalition Says

The language is polite, but a new report by a coalition pushing for better preventive care says the congressional health overhaul effort is missing the mark when it comes to managing chronic disease and isn't doing enough to bend the health spending curve as a result.

Poll: Americans Favor Strongest Possible, Low-Cost Children's Health Coverage

A three-to-one majority of Americans would oppose the elimination of the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) if a health insurance exchange, an alternative to CHIP proposed in overhaul legislation, is more costly for families and provides children with fewer benefits, according to a poll released by bipartisan children's advocacy group First Focus.

Obama Town Hall Meeting Spotlights Medicare Role in Overhaul

President Obama's town hall meeting on health care in Portsmouth, N.H., last week failed to draw the heckling, shouting, and even effigy-hanging that have occurred at town hall meetings with members of Congress in other U.S. cities in recent days. But Obama did purposefully focus attention on Medicare issues that are worrying seniors, who polls have found are the most skeptical about the president and congressional Democrats' plans to overhaul the health care system.

AHIP Study Discovers 'Runaway' Out-of-Network Doctor Charges
Some physicians are billing "runaway charges" for out-of-network care that exceed 1,000 percent of the allowable Medicare reimbursement for the same service, the health insurance industry said in a study issued last week. The report throws light on an issue that's been little discussed in the many hours of chatter over the health care overhaul moving through Congress—how much it sometimes costs insured consumers who for various reasons use services outside their health insurance networks. The study by Dyckman & Associates, prepared for America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), found that in some cases, the fees are very high.
Specter Tells Grassley to 'Stop Spreading Myths' on Overhaul
Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania engaged in a dispute via Twitter over Grassley's remarks about end-of-life provisions in the House health overhaul bill. While at a Netroots Nation meeting in Philadelphia, Specter tweeted to Grassley: "Called Senator Grassley to tell him to stop spreading myths about health care reform and imaginary 'death panels.'"