First Edition: July 27, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about a new effort launched by the Obama administration and insurers to fight health care fraud.   

Kaiser Health News: Olympians Face Unique Health Insurance Options
Kaiser Health News staff writer Christian Torres reports: "You might not have the physique of an Olympic athlete, but you could have health insurance like one. That's the point of a series of ads this year from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the official supplier of health insurance for Team USA. … The Olympic hopefuls often have other policies, too, especially given their high risk for injury and EAHI's very high deductible. Still, the plan provides what the USOC describes as "a level of base support ... in order to minimize the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by insured athletes for costs of medical care" (Torres, 7/26). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Tiffany West: The Role Of Local Health Departments (Video)
In this Kaiser Health News video, Tiffany West, the chief of strategic information on HIV/AIDS for the D.C. Department of Health, tells Joanne Silberner that innovative tools and strategic spending can cut into DC's epidemic. Read the transcript or watch the video.

Kaiser Health News: From Zambia To Kansas City: One Woman's AIDS Odyssey
KCUR's Elana Gordon, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Diagnosed here by chance, Seemani received life-saving care, asylum and eventually U.S. citizenship. If her HIV status had been documented when she applied to come to this country on a work-study visa, she likely would have been denied entry. Up until two years ago, the U.S. banned anyone with HIV from traveling to the country. The change in that policy is what led to the International AIDS Conference taking place in D.C." (Gordon, 7/26). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Former Obama Adviser Chosen As Commonwealth Fund President
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jordan Rau reports: "The Commonwealth Fund, one of the nation's largest health care philanthropies, has named Dr. David Blumenthal as its new president" (Rau, 7/26). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: Hospitals Are Worried About Cut In Fund For The Uninsured
President Obama's health care law is putting new strains on some of the nation's most hard-pressed hospitals, by cutting aid they use to pay for emergency care for illegal immigrants, which they have long been required to provide (Bernstein, 7/26).

The New York Times: For Big Drug Companies, A Headache Looms
It would seem a business executive's dream: legally pay a competitor to keep its product off the market for years. Congress has failed to stop it, and for more than a decade generic drug makers and big-name pharmaceutical companies have been winning court rulings that allowed it. Until this month (Wyatt, 7/26).

Los Angeles Times: How Will Social And Religious Issues Factor Into 2012 Election?
Will Mitt Romney's Mormon faith hurt him among evangelical (or other) voters? Will President Obama lose support among Catholics, a key voting bloc, because of his positions on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage? In short, will social and religious issues play a significant role in this election, as they have in the past? Two polls released Thursday suggest an answer: Not so much (Landsberg, 7/26).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Fight Far From Over For NFIB
No one fought harder against the health-care reform law than the National Federation of Independent Business, which led the legal charge against the divisive legislation all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, with the law upheld and the political spotlight turning back to tax relief and spending cuts, we wondered where the small business group would shift its attention and resources. Turns out, right back to health care (Harrison, 7/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: In New Effort On Health Care Fraud, Government And Insurers To Share Data On Suspect Billings
Stepping up their game against health care fraud, the Obama administration and major insurers announced Thursday they will share raw data and investigative know-how on a scale not previously seen to try to shut off billions of dollars in questionable payments (7/26).

NPR: Feds And Health Insurers Partner To Fight Fraud
The Obama administration is enlisting new allies to fight health care fraud: insurers. Today the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice announced a partnership with more than a dozen health insurers and industry groups to nip fraudulent schemes in the bud, instead of tracking down bad guys after the fact (Rovner, 7/26).

USA Today: Companies, Government To Share Health Info
Insurance companies, local governments and the federal government will trade health care billing information to help spot fraud trends, the Obama administration announced Thursday (Kennedy, 7/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Panetta, Shinseki Acknowledge Frustration In Streamlining Military Health Care
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki acknowledged Wednesday that they have been frustrated by departmental bureaucracy in their attempts to streamline military health care for severely wounded service members (7/26).

The New York Times' City Room: Con Ed And Union Reach Contract Agreement
The terms of the four-year accord were not announced. Con Ed had angered the union by demanding changes in pension and health care benefits and by cutting off union workers' health insurance at the beginning of the lockout, which was a defensive measure against the threat of a strike. The company reinstated health coverage after workers had been off the job for two weeks (Barron and Newcomer, 7/26).

The Washington Post: Growing Old With HIV
The challenges of managing as well as preventing HIV among older Americans were a major theme at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington this week, which closes Friday with a speech by former president Bill Clinton (Sun, 7/26).

The Washington Post: AIDS Research Renews Hope For A 'Functional Cure'
Two studies presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference and one published this week in a journal have given researchers renewed hope that a cure for AIDS may be possible. None of the strategies are easy, proved or ready for prime time. But all involve procedures or drugs that are already in use and are able to be deployed widely if further research bears out the early findings (Brown and Botelho, 7/26).

NPR: Two More Nearing AIDS 'Cure' After Bone Marrow Transplants, Doctors Say
The so-called Berlin patient is famously the only person in the world who has been cured of HIV. But he may soon have company. Harvard researchers got an enthusiastic response from an overflow crowd when they presented the first report on the patients at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Knox, 7/26).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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