OVERNIGHT HEALTH: After Supreme Court, 'Plan B is nothing'

The New Yorker story on Obama’s would-be second term is online here.

Stronger than yesterday: Medicare is better than it’s ever been, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told seniors Monday. She said during an online town hall about seniors’ health that the the Affordable Care Act has bolstered Medicare by adding new benefits, including preventive services and cheaper prescription drugs.

"When you add all the savings in the law up, the average Medicare beneficiary will save $4,200 over the next nine years. And those seniors with high drug costs will see even greater benefits."

She added that the law will "maintain all the guaranteed Medicare benefits" seniors now enjoy — "unlike some recent proposals."

Healthwatch has more from the online discussion.

We need a volunteer: Several large insurers will voluntarily keep offering some of the Affordable Care Act’s benefits if the law is struck down later this month. That will hardly fill all the gaps that would arise from a Supreme Court decision striking down the healthcare law, but the voluntary steps would provide some assurances to consumers who have benefited from parts of the law that are already in effect.

UnitedHealth and Humana said they would leave in place policies allowing young people on their parents’ plans through age 26. They also won’t rescind policies they’ve issued except in the case of fraud. Rescission is banned under the healthcare law, and insurers implemented that provision even before they had to. Similarly, Aetna said it would voluntarily stay away from rescissions and would keep covering preventive services without charging a co-pay or deductible.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation praised the insurers, saying in a statement: “We applaud UnitedHealth, Humana and Aetna for their determination to not be held hostage by the political and judicial process and for their leadership in ensuring Americans have access to the health care they need. We encourage others to follow suit.”

Bloomberg has the details on the insurers’ positions.

Easy money: Streamlining administrative procedures in healthcare would save the system some $40 billion per year, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress. The liberal-leaning think tank said major savings could come from three key areas: integrating administrative rules and systems; coordinating similar processes; and creating a new federal office designed to simplify the logistics of healthcare.

Healthwatch has the story.

Tuesday's agenda

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies will meet to consider the FY 2013 appropriations bill. 

Representatives from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians and the North American Neuromodulation Society will be on Capitol Hill for meetings and lawmaker events.

State by state

No out-of-state health plans have applied to market to Georgians under a free-market-inspired law to take effect July 1. The Atlanta Business Chronicle has more.

Childhood cancers are increasing in California, eve as adult cases decrease. California Watch has the story.

Loosening alcohol regulations could harm Pennsylvanians' health, an op-ed argues.

Lobbying registrations

Tristate Strategies / Tri County Respite

Park Strategies / Accurate Diagnostic Labs

Holland & Knight / Tele-Acute and Critical Care Coalition

Holland & Knight / National Association of EMS Physicians

McDermott Will & Emery / athenahealth

Reading list

NPR looks at the clause of the Constitution that will be at the heart of the Supreme Court's decision on the healthcare reform law.

Almost one in 10 cases of gonorrhea in Europe is untreatable, according to health officials. Reuters has the story.

Pregnancy prevention can help Hispanic communities curb high dropout rates, NBC Latino reports.

A new study suggested that it's harder to resist junk food when fatigued. The Atlantic breaks it down.

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9/11 health fund to cover cancer

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Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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