Healthcare News April 21, 2012

  • Postal bill could bring hike in health premiums for federal workers

    Thousands of federal workers could see a double-digit jump in their premiums under legislation moving through the Senate.

  • Ways and Means wades into controversial Medicare proposals

    The House Ways and Means Committee’s health panel will hold a hearing next week on proposals to at least partially privatize Medicare — proposals that landed with a thud just a year ago.

    Democrats have hammered the Medicare plans championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and his budget outline last year helped bolster Democrats’ hopes of winning back the House majority. Establishment Republicans were also wary of the idea last year, warning against moving forward with Ryan’s plan.

    Lobbyists and political observers noted last year that Ways and Means, which would have to pass the Medicare policies that Ryan’s budget called for, didn’t make any moves last year to advance the plan.

    But Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), who chairs the Ways and Means health subcommittee, offered a strong endorsement Friday for plans like Ryan’s. 

  • Analysis says Ryan plan would have cost states $500 billion over past decade

    States would have lost more than $500 billion over the past decade if Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposed Medicaid cuts had been in place, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Friday.

    While most fiscal estimates look ahead to future cuts, CBPP tried to demonstrate the magnitude of Ryan’s proposal by calculating how much money states would have lost if Ryan’s proposal had taken effect in 2001. The hypothetical provides 10 years of real spending data, rather than estimates.

    Under Ryan’s plan, states would have gotten 31 percent less federal money over the past 10 years, according to CBPP. Arizona would have taken a bigger cut than any other state, at about 61 percent.

    The analysis helps illustrate that Ryan’s plan wouldn’t keep up with the needs of the Medicaid program, CBPP said. The House Budget Committee chairman has proposed converting federal Medicaid funding into a block grant to the states and giving the states more power to drop people from the program and scale back their benefits.

    The federal grants would get bigger each year, but they wouldn’t keep up with the rise in healthcare costs, CBPP said. As a result, millions of people would become uninsured.

  • Walgreens reaches $8 million settlement with Justice Department

    The Walgreens pharmacy chain will pay nearly $8 million to settle charges that it offered illegal promotions to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

    The Justice Department said Friday that the settlement is a clear sign the federal government will crack down on retail pharmacies in its quest to root out healthcare fraud.

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