Medicare Advantage Rates Coming
THIS WEEK IN ONE PARAGRAPH: This week, we'll likely see the official proposed payment rates for Medicare Advantage. Insurers have already spent the past several weeks lobbying hard, reprising the campaign that successfully turned last year's proposed cut into a payment bump. Did it preemptively work? We'll find out soon. Meanwhile, the National Governors Association holds its winter meeting in Washington, with the biggest health care items set for next weekend.
Top Health Care News
IT'S THE MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR ONE STATE'S GRAND OBAMACARE BARGAIN: Arkansas struck a major Medicaid expansion compromise in 2013, but the political coalition behind it is showing signs of fraying. The House will vote today on whether to renew funding for the state's "private option" past June 30. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)
Arkansans Like Obamacare, Except When You Call It Obamacare. (Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo)
SOME HEALTHCARE.GOV SIGNUPS FACE WEEKEND DELAY: An annual systems maintenance planned by the Social Securities Administration kept consumers from signing up on Feb. 15, the deadline to get coverage beginning March 1. (Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal)
MEDICAID'S DEATH BILL LEAVES HOMES, ASSETS AT RISK: States can force families to repay benefits as part of Medicaid estate recovery. (Shannon Mullen, USA Today)
ON HEALTH ACT, DEMOCRATS RUN ON FIX-IT MODE: As Democrats approach the 2014 midterm elections, they are grappling with an awkward reality: the Affordable Care Act remains a political liability in many states, threatening their ability to hold onto seats in the House and Senate. (Ashley Parker, New York Times)
DEMS' NEW 2014 PLAN: NEUTRALIZE OBAMACARE: According to a party memo, Democrats plan to tell voters that Republicans would only make the problem worse by raising prescription drug prices, empowering insurance companies and even endangering domestic violence victims. (James Hohmann, Politico)
'DOC-FIX' TO HEAL MEDICARE PAYMENT FLAW MAY NOW BE IN CONGRESSIONAL HOMESTRETCH: Congress needs to act by March 31 to avoid drastic cuts to physicians payment for services given to Medicare beneficiaries. (Bruce Japsen, Forbes)
D.C. LOVES THE DOCTORS THAT AMERICA HATES: A new study finds that D.C. gives its highest doctor approval ratings to psychiatrists--the doctors the rest of the nation ranked at the bottom. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)
THE DOCTOR'S TEAM WILL SEE YOU NOW: Why visit one doctor when some offices offer a medical entourage? (Laura Landro, Wall Street Journal)
OLDER AMERICANS ARE EARLY WINNERS UNDER THE HEALTH LAW: Americans ages 55 to 64 make up 31 percent of the new enrollees in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces, the largest segment by any age group, according to government data. (Associated Press)
IN THE DEBATE OVER HEALTH CARE, REAL PEOPLE BECOME HUMAN VOLLEYBALLS: Democrats say constituent service has yielded to something like constituent exploitation. (Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)
TIPS FOR NEW OBAMACARE COVERAGE: STAY IN NETWORK, AVOID OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS: Going to a doctor that is within your insurance plan network means avoiding unnecessary expense. (Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News)
NURSING HOMES ARE EXPOSED TO HACKER ATTACKS: Cybersecurity experts find trove of information on file-sharing web site. (Rachael King, Wall Street Journal)
MORE U.S. COMPANIES SWITCH TO HIGH DEDUCTIBLE HEALTH PLANS: Overall health care cost increases have slowed dramatically, but consumers may not notice it. (John Ydstie, National Public Radio)
COVER OREGON PUSHES PARTIAL LAUNCH TO FEB. 18: Insurance agents and consumer assistance workers will get their first look at the site, state officials say. (Nick Budnick, The Oregonian)
GENERIC DRUG MAKERS FIGHT RULE ON HEALTH RISK WARNINGS: The proposed FDA regulation would close a legal loophole and allow patients to sue. (David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times)
TREATING TUBERCULOSIS AND AIDS TOGETHER SAVES LIVES: Patients who have multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and AIDS are more likely to live if they get simultaneous treatment for both diseases rather than waiting weeks to start the AIDS treatment, a new study finds. (Donald G. McNeil, Jr., New York Times)
CHINA REPORTS ANOTHER NEW CASE OF BIRD FLU STRAIN: H10N8 has infected three people, killing two. (Edward Wong, New York Times)
TEST COULD PREDICT WHICH TEEN BOYS GET DEPRESSION: A saliva test for boys with mild depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says. (Associated Press)
Happening This Week
ARKANSAS HOUSE VOTES ON 'PRIVATE OPTION': The House will vote on whether to renew funding for the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
BRIEFING ON CALIFORNIA'S IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: The Kaiser Family Foundation is holding a noon press briefing with California officials and insurance representatives to discuss the state's health law rollout.
BRIEFING ON INVOLVING CLINICIANS IN PAYMENT AND DELIVERY REFORM: The Brookings Institution holds a meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. about including doctors in the policy-making process.
MACPAC PUBLIC MEETING ON MEDICAID ENROLLMENT: Congress's advisory board on all things Medicaid and CHIP will meet beginning at 8:30 a.m. to discuss beneficiaries' enrollment figures, emergency room use, express lane eligibility and population health.
BRIEFING FROM STATE MEDICAID DIRECTORS ON ENROLLMENT: Families USA holds a noon conference call with officials from Arkansas, Oregon and West Virginia to discuss enrollment in Medicaid.
HOUSE VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HEALTH SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING: A 10 a.m. PST, 1 p.m. EST meeting in California to discuss veteran access to mental health therapy.
CMS EXPECTED TO RELEASE 2015 MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PAYMENT RATES: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is expected to release the much-anticipated 2015 payment rates for Medicare Advantage by the close of business.
NATIONAL GOVERNOR'S ASSOCIATION WINTER MEETING: State leaders gather in the nation's capital through Monday, with a portion of the Sunday agenda devoted to health care and drug abuse in the states.