Just when you though Sony was finally consolidating its smartphone strategy, along come rumors of models that seem to contradict the company’s earlier statements. First there was the appearance of what is allegedly the Sony Xperia XZ Compact. And although Sony has not exactly ruled it out, seeing what is claimed to be an Xperia XZ1 at Geekbench seems to prove that Sony still hasn’t changed its ways. Back in May, Sony was reported to have shown investors some slides that described its future smartphone strategy. It admitted that its “premium standard models”, namely the Xperia X and the Xperia X Compact, didn’t perform well in the market as they had hoped. Sony effectively canceled that line, leaving only its Flagship and Mid-Range lines intact.Earlier this month, however, it seemed that Sony still has a Compact model planned. The Sony G8441 appeared at Antutu with a 5-inch HD screen, which designated it as a smaller phone. It’s Snapdragon 835 processor, however, would suggest it isn’t a mid-range model.Now a certain Sony G8341 has also popped up, this time on Geekbench. Unfortunately, aside from the Snapdragon 835 and its test scores, as well as 4 GB of RAM, there is not much else to be gleaned from this benchmark entry. Given how things are going, it is believed to be signs of an Xperia XZ1.The two’s use of the Snapdragon 835 would suggest that Sony intends them to join the Flagship line for 2017. However, it already has an Xperia XZ Performance as well as an Xperia XZs, both of which already trace their roots to last year’s flagships. But since this is Sony, it probably doesn’t mind having more smartphone models than it can sell.VIA: Playfuldroid!
Both Yoga 730 models have similar starting prices, with the 13-inch starting at $879.99 and the 15-inch beginning not much higher at $899.99. Obviously, your final price depends on what kind of configuration you decide on, and with different options for the CPU, display, RAM, and storage, there are quite a few variables at play when determining total cost. We’ll see both of these notebooks launch in April 2018, with both available in iron grey and platinum silver and the 13-inch also sporting a copper color option. Story TimelineLenovo Yoga 920 hands-on: Thunderbolt 3, 8th Gen Core i7, moreLenovo YOGA 720 15″ Review: a sleek but heavy Windows laptopReview: Lenovo YOGA 920 Lenovo has showed up to MWC 2018 with a pair of new Yoga 2-in-1 notebooks in tow. The company today announced the 13-inch and 15-inch Yoga 730, which offer a number of improvements over their predecessors. Perhaps the most interesting thing about these new Yoga notebooks, however, isn’t the hardware on the inside, but how Lenovo approaches AI smart assistants. Obviously, any machine running Windows 10 is going to feature Cortana, as she’s a big focus in Microsoft’s latest operating system. Lenovo has decided that in the case of the Yoga 730, Cortana isn’t enough, pairing her with Amazon’s Alexa as well. It isn’t too often we see notebooks and PCs with Alexa compatibility, so if you’re already part of Amazon’s AI ecosystem, this might be a notebook to consider.The Yoga 730 can be outfitted with up to a UHD IPS display depending on your configuration, and with these releases, we’re seeing Lenovo drop total weight and thickness over previous versions. It isn’t a huge drop, but the 15-inch Yoga 730 clocks in at 4.16 pounds, while the 13-inch is down to just 2.46 pounds. Indeed, the goal here is to create a portable 2-in-1 that doesn’t skimp on power as much as other notebooks and ultrabooks in the space.On the inside, the hardware you’ll find largely depends on the configuration you opt for. You can choose a CPU as powerful as an 8th-gen Core i7 in both machines, and in the 15-inch 730 in particular, you also have the option of discrete NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics. Both notebooks will be compatible with Lenovo’s Active Pen 2, and both have been outfitted with a pair of JBL speakers that should hopefully sound a little better than your standard notebook fare.
Among everything Samsung has to offer with this year’s TVs, Ambient Mode is the most interesting. With this, and as demonstrated in the image above, users can set the TV so that its background mimics the pattern on the wall upon which the TV is mounted. This gives the panel an “invisible” appearance, making it appears like a pane of glass with data on it rather than a big TV screen. As mentioned above, owners can set the TV to display info like traffic data, weather, news, and more throughout the day.Joining Ambient Mode is something called One Invisible Connection, which is a single cable that brings both power and A/V to the television. This cable is available at lengths up to 15m / 50ft, making it possible for owners to have a clean, clutter-free installation while enabling them to mount the TV anywhere (available on the Q7 and greater models with the exception of the Q8F).As mentioned above, this year’s Samsung Smart TV offerings bring Bixby support, though there are some limitations. Samsung says Bixby mobile control will be available to the Galaxy S8 and greater handsets in certain countries; as well, the Smart TV Bixby service only supports English, Mandarin, and Korean. The Smart TV offerings also include Effortless Login for rapidly signing into TV apps, plus a Universal Guide for finding content across multiple services and channels in a single place.Finally, as far as TVs go, Samsung’s Q8F and Q9F models in particular boast Direct Full Array tech, which is comprised of a series of panel zones that adjust and control backlighting automatically, the end result being purer whites and deeper blacks. All QLED models will offer HDR10+ support, enhanced contrast and color, Smart TV with Bixby Voice enhancements, Ambient Mode, One Invisible Connection support, and One Remote Control. Sizes depend on model, but span 49-inches to 88-inches. The Premium UHD models, meanwhile, will offer HDR10+, dynamic crystal color, Smart TV with Bixby Voice, One Remote Control, and “clean cable solutions.” Finally, the UHD lineup will support Smart TV features, 4K resolution, HDR, and the same clean cable solutions. Samsung has taken the wraps off its 2018 television lineup, introducing consumers to its flagship QLED TV offerings, as well as its new Ultra HD, Premium Ultra HD, and Ultra-Large Screen televisions. Samsung has packed a bunch of features into this year’s lineup, including things like an Ambient Mode for displaying useful info during the day, Smart TV features with Bixby integration, and more.
Story TimelineIntel details Meltdown and Spectre-proof processorsIntel drops older chips from Spectre patch plansVariant 4 vulnerability: Spectre continues to haunt Intel, AMD, ARM Over on the Google Security Blog, the company details a new feature called Site Isolation that will be rolling out in Chrome 67. Site Isolation has actually been in small-scale testing since Chrome 63, but now Google is confident enough to roll it out to 99% of users on Windows, Mac, Linux, and ChromeOS. Google says it’s holding back that final 1% so it can continue monitoring performance.So, what is Site Isolation? Put simply, it’s a change to Chrome’s architecture that keeps each render process limited to a single site. This, in turn, can potentially keep a malicious website from executing a Spectre attack and stealing data loaded from other sites, since they’ll now be separated into different processes. Google says that while this is a significant change to the way Chrome operates under the hood, there shouldn’t be any major changes for developers and end-users outside of a few known issues that it’s working to fix. The tradeoff, of course, comes in overall RAM consumption. “Site Isolation does cause Chrome to create more renderer processes, which comes with performance tradeoffs: on the plus side, each renderer process is smaller, shorter-lived, and has less contention internally, but there is about a 10-13% total memory overhead in real workloads due to the larger number of processes,” writes Google’s Charlie Reis. “Our team continues to work hard to optimize this behavior to keep Chrome both fast and secure.”So, it sounds like Google will be working to decrease the RAM impact Site Isolation has on Chrome, but there are some things you can do to make sure that the impact isn’t so great. You can, of course, increase the amount of RAM in your PC, but barring that, a good way to ensure that RAM usage stays low is to keep a limited number of tabs open. That’s good advice for using Chrome in general, but it’s also easier said than done when you’ve got the entirely of the internet at your fingertips. While Chrome is a pretty solid browser, it’s known for its tendency to be a bit of a resource hog. Its well-known appetite for all the RAM you’ve got is about to get worse, and we’ve all got Spectre to thank for it. The good news, however, is that this increase in RAM usage comes along with a new feature that should help keep Chrome users safe from Spectre’s rather scary threats while browsing the web.
They may not be completely open (they still require some very proprietary blobs) but the best thing about Google’s now-defunct Nexus line was how their lives could be extended almost indefinitely through custom ROMs. That character has once again been put to the test with the latest Android release, version 9 Pie, which is now available on the Motorola-made Nexus 6 and the LG-made Nexus 5X. And, surprisingly, both ports are in almost perfectly working conditions. The Nexus phones were long hailed for being relatively more open than their OEM counterparts and has, therefore, made them easier targets for custom ROM development. It’s not always perfect, especially as the device ages. The Nexus 6, for example, was launched in 2014 and its support ended with Android 7 Nougat. The Nexus 5X launched the year after and got Android 8 Oreo as its last official version.Most ports of latest Android versions usually start off rough, with this or that missing critical feature, with cellular modems and cameras being the worst culprits. So it’s a testament to how far the custom ROM community and developers have come to see these Android Pie ports have a release that’s working almost perfectly right from the start.The Nexus 5X “PieX” ROM comes via XDA Senior Member argraur and reports only two broken features that may or may not be critical to users. One is incoming calls for VoLTE and the other is SafetyNet, which is often used to detect compromised or tampered hardware and apps. The Pie-based Carbon ROM for the Nexus 6 is in a similarly finished state. Only encryption and an occasionally breaking mobile connection on reboots remain.AdChoices广告Whether or not these older devices can handle more recent versions of Android, especially those with more taxing graphical needs, is the bigger question. For now, at least, owners of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5X won’t feel too left out.
This morning Sphero revealed a project called Sphero RVR, a do-it-yourself robot. This robot works with simple-to-use software and 3rd-party hardware, and is part of a Kickstarter right out the gate. In less than 12 hours, the project reached $145k of its $150k goal (with 30 days left to go). Inside the robot are a color sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, ir-sensor, and light sensor. The folks that built this machine created a ready-to-use library of code samples for 3rd-party ad-on systems like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and micro:bit – with room for expansion in excess. Sphero RVR Features:• Removable, rechargeable high-capacity battery• USB-C charging• Included battery key• 4-Pin UART port (RX, TX, GND, 5V, with 3.3V signals)• 5V 2.1A USB-A onboard power + data• Removable cover plate with quick-release button• Removable protective roll cage• Interchangeable tops• Neutral design adaptable to a multitude of use cases• Ambient light sensor• RGB sensor w/ normalizing LED and focus lens• Full 9-axis IMU – accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer• 10 individually addressable RGB LEDs• IR sensors• High-resolution 20-pole magnetic encoders• Hypergrip all-terrain treads• High 20mm clearance• 22.5:1 gear ratio w/ incredible speed to accuracy ratio• High-power, compact motors with enough torque to climb a wallThis project starts its life as a Kickstarter campaign. In said campaign, the first, lowest price for a Sphero RVR unit is approximately $199. In this project, Sphero suggests that MSRP for the Sphero RVR is $249 – with estimated delivery date of October of 2019.This new Sphero RVR project will host its own live stream on its crowdfunding page over at Kickstarter on February 20th at noon, CST. That live stream was listed as “RVR: Tech and Team,” and it promised to bring on an introduction to RVR, and the tech, and the team behind the tech. Coding for this robot works with as-simple-as-possible software in the Sphero Edu app. You might remember this piece of software from the Sphero Bolt robot – in its latest edition released in September of 2018. Story TimelineSphero R2-Q5 brings R2-D2’s Imperial rival to lifeSphero BOLT robot returns the focus to educationSphero says goodbye to BB-8, Spider-man, Disney-licensed toys [Update] This robot can be driven right out the box if you don’t want to do anything beyond the basics – with the Sphero Edu app on your smartphone or tablet. The motors in this machine are high-torque and the tracks are rubbery and ready to hold fast up steep hills. This remote-controlled robot is powered with a removable, rechargeable battery that’s super simple – like the power pack battery you might have in your backpack or purse right now.AdChoices广告This robot comes fully assembled, but can be fully taken apart, piece by piece. This is a very user-friendly teardown-friendly piece of equipment. This is RVR, an extension of the Sphero Edu app into a fabulous do-it-all robotic creature. The base of the robot is a car-like machine, what with its four wheels and a rectangular (nearly square) body. On its top is a connection platform, on which a “universal expansion port” works with onboard power to work with a wide variety of already-made bits of hardware, like Arduino, BBC micro-bit, and Raspberry Pi.
Jaguar teamed up with a former Olympic skier called Graham Bell to set a new world record for the Fastest towed speed on skis. Jag used its sexy wagon called the XF Sportbrake to set the world record. Bell was towed along behind the Jag at an average top speed of 117 mph to set the break the former world record. The world record was set at the Jaguar Land Rover Revi Test Centre in the Arctic Circle. Temperatures during the feat were -28C. Jag and Bell smashed the previous world record by 47 mph with its average top speed of 117 mph. The XF Sportbrake used to set the record used AWD and Adaptive Surface Response and All Surface Progress Control feature for the car to control grip on the ice and snow.Power for the XF Sportbrake is from a 3.0L 380PS supercharged gas V6 able to push the car from naught to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. I can’t even imagine how cold it would be being towed outside a car, at 117 mph when it’s -28C just standing around wearing nothing but spandex.This is the same test center where Jag holds the Jaguar Experience Ice Academy. Jaguar Land Rover had been big on breaking Guinness World Records of late. The last record went to the company in September.AdChoices广告In that world record setting stunt a Land Rover Discovery towed a 110-ton Aussie road train across the outback. The vehicle used in that record was a Land Rover Discovery Td6 with a maximum certified towing capacity of 3,500 kg. I think Land Rover might have voided a warranty with that record. SOURCE: Jaguar
Automakers are beginning to learn that just because they roll out a new body style of a vehicle that doesn’t mean demand for the old-style wanes. Nissan did that with the Rogue when it rolled out its new body style years back selling the old and new together. Jeep has done it with the Wrangler selling the Wrangler JK (the old body style) alongside the new Wrangler JL this year. Now Ram Trucks is doing this with the Ram 1500 Classic. Truck fans will recognize the 1500 Classic as the old body style truck that was popular before the rollout of the new 2019 Ram truck. The Classic will be sold right alongside the new truck and presumably will be cheaper making trucks more affordable for the masses looking to buy. Ram says that the 1500 Classic is known internally as the DS model while the 2019 Ram 1500 is known as the DT.Ram specifically says that the 1500 Classic is targeted directly at entry level and commercial buyers and that it is keeping the old truck on to not “walk away” from those two buyer categories. Along with the old body style, the trucks will also feature a new “Classic” badge on the fenders. There will be four trims available with Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star, and special services vehicles.There are three packages for those trucks including Chrome Plus on the Tradesman with chrome bumpers, body-color upper front fascia, 17-inch wheels, remote keyless entry, and carpet. Tradesman SXT will be offered on the Tradesman trim adding chrome bumpers, body-color front fascia, 5-inch radio, fog lamps, dual exhaust for V8 models, and 20-inch chrome wheels. An Express Black Accent package is available on all Express trim colors and has black wheels, black headlamp bezels, and black badges. 1500 Classic buyers can choose bed and cabs including Regular Cab with 8-ft. bed or 6-ft., 4-in. bed, Quad Cab with 6-ft., 4-in. bed, Crew Cab short bed (5-ft., 7-in.) or Crew Cab with optional 6-ft., 4-in. bed.. Both 4×4 and 4×2 models will be offered with 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine or a 5.7L Hemi V8. A 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel will be offered later. Ram 1500 Classic will launch in Q4 2018 with pricing unannounced for now.AdChoices广告SOURCE: FCA
AdChoices广告 Chevrolet has a new big gun from Ford to fight at the road course and drag strip, that car is the 2020 Shelby GT500. The GT500 is offered only with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Camaro ZL1 1LE, by contrast, has always been offered with only a manual transmission. That will change in late February when Chevy will cram a 10-speed automatic inside the 2019 ZL1 1LE Camaro. That will put the Camaro on par with the GT500 letting those not wanting to row their own gears to profit. Chevy says that the new paddle-shift 10-speed will be good for gains of several seconds for lap times on longer courses compared to the manual ZL1.Chevy also notes that the 10-speed gives customers more performance options. For ZL1 1LE duty, the transmission has unique calibration, electronically limited slip diff, and a performance traction management system. Chevrolet also tuned the front and rear Multimatic DSSV dameps to accommodate faster shifts in weight transfer. The transmission also has a new transmission oil pan and an additional cooling duct for the steering gear. Other than the 10-speed automatic transmission, the ZL1 1LE carries on unchanged. It has additional aero bits for downforce, adjustable suspension, unique wheels and tires, and a supercharged 650hp LT4 V8 engine.The car has Brembo brakes all around, dual automatic climate control, Bose audio, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The ZL1 1LE package has a $7,500 MSRP with the 10-speed automatic costing another $1,595.
In fact, the Honda E – the production name for the Honda E Prototype – is expected to do more than 125 miles on aa full charge. It’ll support fast charging, too, with a 30 minute charge at a compatible station being good for up to 80-percent. Along with the reservations process, Honda has also confirmed the color options that the Honda E will be offered in. There’s the Platinum White Metallic that we saw the show car debut in, which almost looks like white ceramic in person. Honda will also have a Modern Steel Metallic, which gives the EV a very different feel.Crystal Black Pearl should appeal to the traditionalists, meanwhile, and Crystal Blue Metallic contrasts nicely with the black A-pillar and roof. Most unusual of the five finishes on offer is Charge Yellow. That statement color might be too punchy on most cars, but considering the scale of the Honda E it could in fact be just right. Right now, Honda isn’t taking any other option details, so the final trim levels of the car won’t be confirmed until closer to release. Even the color selection isn’t binding. Honda says that reservation holders will be able to change their mind later on, if they wish.Reservations are priced at £800 in the UK, or just over $1,000. Actual orders, however, aren’t expected to be taken until toward the end of 2019. Honda says it will be contacting reservation holders when it’s their turn to buy the car, with that process being carried out through a local dealer of their choice. Alternatively, the reservation is fully refundable, though it can’t be transferred to someone else. That’s likely being done to avoid early placeholders selling their spot in line to someone later on. Now, the terrible news. Honda still isn’t planning on bringing the Honda E to the US, in no small part because it believes the car’s range just isn’t sufficient to satisfy the sort of needs American drivers typically have. That remains a huge disappointment for anybody who was hoping for more EV options with personality, but hopefully the Honda E’s stylish dashboard – and brand new Honda infotainment system – will eventually make it across the Atlantic to a US-spec model. Honda has thrown open reservations for its adorable Honda E electric city car, though there’s still bad news if you were hoping for some green motoring in the US. Revealed at the Geneva Motor Show 2019 back in March, the retro-styled hatchback won over hearts with its cutesy aesthetic, even if its range doesn’t live up to other EVs. Story TimelineHonda just teased this adorable EV concept with some excellent newsHonda’s Geneva-bound EV concept has a dash we’re obsessed withAdorable Honda e Prototype EV heads to production
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Today’s headlines include reports that compare and contrast how the two budget blueprints released this week — one by House Republicans, the other from Senate Democrats — would treat Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs. Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Democrats, Republicans Clash Over Health Care Savings (Audio)KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey talks with Jackie Judd about the competing budget proposals offered by leaders from each chamber of Congress this week that seek savings in health spending and what’s next for the proposals and what President Obama could offer (3/13). Listen to the audio or read the transcript.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Colorado Sets Its Exchange Fee; Dick And Jane Sign Up For The ExchangeNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Colorado Public Radio’s Eric Whitney, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on developments regarding how Colorado will pay for its health exchange operations: “The price of policies in Colorado’s health insurance exchange will include a 1.4 percent fee to help fund exchange operations. The state’s exchange board voted to enact the fee Monday. Board Chairwoman Gretchen Hammer characterized it as lean compared with the 3.5 percent fee the federal government is expected to tack on to policies sold in states that are not setting up their own exchanges” (Whitney, 3/13).Also on the blog, Jenny Gold reports on federal government efforts to make signing up for health insurance more palatable: “Signing up for health insurance is intimidating — even if you know you might get some help paying for it. The federal government is trying hard to come up with a way to make the process a bit more palatable — about as simple as, say, doing your taxes online” (Gold, 3/13). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times: U.S. Budget Deal In Doubt; Obama’s Trip To Hill Reveals SplitPresident Obama’s meeting with a restive and resistant House Republican majority on Wednesday underscored their deep divisions over fiscal policy as both sides acknowledged that an overarching budget compromise was in doubt despite a new push by the White House. Under their budget, Senate Democrats would have the government running a deficit of nearly $600 billion in 10 years. In another sign of just how different the parties’ priorities are, just before Mr. Obama arrived to meet with House Republicans, the Senate rejected a Republican effort to cut off financing for the president’s signature health care overhaul in a party-line vote (Peters and Parker, 3/13).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Obama Visit Leaves GOP House Members SkepticalPresident Barack Obama visited the U.S. Capitol for a second day, this time meeting with House Republicans on their own turf to say he was sincere about trying to find compromise on the budget, immigration, and other policies. Mr. Obama, who is on a campaign to find common ground with Republicans, pointed to his willingness to change entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, specifically mentioning that he was open to controlling costs by changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated, according to lawmakers who attended the closed-door meeting (Hughes and Boles, 3/13).USA Today: Obama: Differences With GOP May Be Too WideObama is seeking a new debt reduction agreement that includes both budget cuts and higher taxes, the latter by eliminating loopholes that benefit the wealthy. Republicans oppose higher taxes in a new debt deal, saying they would slow economic growth; they are also seeking changes to rapidly growing entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (Jackson, 3/13).Los Angeles Times: Stark Choice In Dueling Budget PlansUnder the 10-year budget plan released by House Republicans this week, tax rates would fall for high-income Americans and corporations, defense spending would be bolstered, and more than 30 million uninsured people would lose access to government-backed healthcare. Food stamps, student loans and free school lunches for children would be cut. The Senate Democrats’ plan, released Wednesday, would increase taxes on the wealthy and some corporations, cut the Pentagon budget and add $100 billion in highway and school construction spending. Their plan would make modest reductions in healthcare and other domestic programs (Mascaro, 3/13).USA Today: Senate Democrats Release First Budget In Four YearsThe budget — the first one Senate Democrats have produced since 2009 — stands in sharp contrast to the House Republicans’ plan released Tuesday that calls for cuts in corporate and individual taxes and aims to balance the budget in 10 years, fundamentally overhaul Medicare and eliminate President Obama’s health care law (Davis, 3/13).Politico: Patty Murray Plan Doesn’t Balance Budget In the committee, the 12 Democrats appeared united when they delivered their opening statements Wednesday. Assuming Murray succeeds in keeping her caucus largely in line and ushering the measure through the Senate, she will have an enormously challenging task of reconciling the plan with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s approach, who proposes no tax increases and calls for a dramatic overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as a repeal of the president’s health care law (Raju and Gibson, 3/13).The Washington Post: Democrats Challenge Obama On Medicare And Social Security CutsOn one side of the Capitol, President Obama sought to convince House Republicans on Wednesday that he is serious about reining in the rising cost of federal health and retirement programs. But on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats rolled out a 10-year spending plan that sent a different message: Not so fast (Montgomery, 3/13).Politico: Senate Dems Block Tea Party Bid To Cut ObamacareA stopgap spending bill advanced in the Senate Wednesday with Democrats keeping to a middle path in hopes of improving their chances for a strong bipartisan showing — and greater leverage with the Republican-controlled House. On a 52-45 vote, the majority quickly dispatched a tea-party-led bid to cut off funding for President Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms (Rogers, 3/13).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Democratic-Led Senate Panel To Approve Budget To Raise Taxes, Spare Benefit Programs From CutsActing on the Senate’s first budget since President Barack Obama took office, a Democratic-led panel is moving toward party-line approval of a fiscal blueprint that would trim the budget deficit while protecting safety net programs from slashing cuts proposed by Republicans. The expected vote Thursday in the Senate Budget Committee comes as Obama heads to the Capitol for a third consecutive day, carrying his charm offensive with Congress to Senate Republicans and his Democratic allies in the House (3/13).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Democratic-Controlled Senate Rejects New Republican Effort To Repeal Obama’s Health Care LawThe Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected a Republican effort to attach the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law to a government spending bill. The 45-52 vote defeated the effort, which was led by conservatives. They say that when the law is fully in effect, it will jeopardize the nation’s fragile economic recovery. But Obama’s allies say national health care could help strengthen the economy in part by encouraging health maintenance and prevention. The law has been upheld by the Supreme Court (3/13).The Washington Post’s WonkBlog: ‘We’re In An Analytical Mode’: Ohio Weighs The Obamacare Medicaid ExpansionYou probably haven’t heard of Ron Amstutz. He was raised on a dairy farm in Ohio and now lives in the city of Wooster (Population: 26,139). He is on the board of the Orrville Area Boys’ and Girls’ Club and a member of the Wooster Rotary Club. Turns out, though, that Ron Amstutz has one of the most important roles right now in implementing the Affordable Care Act: He leads a small committee that will get the first say on whether Ohio expands Medicaid to 684,000 residents (Kliff, 3/13).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Insurers Warn Of Sticker Shock Due To Health Care Law’s New Taxes, Requirements As It ExpandsSome Americans could see their insurance bills double next year as the health care overhaul law expands coverage to millions of people. The nation’s big health insurers say they expect premiums — or the cost for insurance coverage — to rise from 20 to 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January 2014 (3/13).The New York Times: Obama Rallies Supporters And Donors To Keep His Campaign Agenda AlivePresident Obama joined former campaign staff members and some of his most ardent supporters on Wednesday night, headlining a two-day meeting of an independent group, Organizing for Action, that is intended to bolster his agenda in Congress. The new group hopes to cut through Washington’s legislative logjams by harnessing the millions of volunteers and donors who helped elect Mr. Obama to a second term last fall, turning their enthusiasm and money to grass-roots lobbying on issues like immigration, climate change and the expansion of Medicaid (Confessore and Shear, 3/13).The New York Times: Clamor To Be Spared The Pain As Budget Cuts DescendAnne Kauffman Nolon, the president of Hudson River HealthCare, which operates 22 community health centers in New York, is urging Congress to provide money to offset the cuts. If that is not possible, she said, it would be better to delay opening new clinics so she and her colleagues did not have to cut back care for patients they already served. Ms. Nolon said her clinics were losing $1 million of the $10.8 million they expected from the federal government this year to care for 87,000 patients. Nationwide, the number of clinics increased sharply under President George W. Bush, and Congress provided more money for clinics to serve people expected to gain insurance under Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul. The pace of lobbying has picked up because of a widespread belief that this year’s cuts are locked in and may be a prelude to further cuts in the same programs in each of the next eight years (Pear, 3/13).Politico: Experts Debate All-Payer Setups Vs. Medicare For AllHealth care prices are too damn high. That’s the punch line to the provocative Time magazine piece “Bitter Pill” by Steven Brill, who laid out his diagnosis of the problem Wednesday at a Center for American Progress panel (Norman, 3/14).Los Angeles Times: Illegal Immigrants Should Have Health Coverage, Foundation SaysThe California Endowment is launching a campaign to extend medical coverage to all uninsured state residents, including undocumented immigrants. An estimated 3 million to 4 million Californians, or about 10% of the state’s population, could remain uninsured even after the national healthcare overhaul takes full effect in January (Chang, 3/13).Los Angeles Times: Republicans Push Audit On Guns And Mental Health State lawmakers Wednesday morning will discuss a Republican request for an audit of databases on mentally ill residents and gun ownership. Severe mental health cases are supposed to be reported to law enforcement so disturbed people can be barred from owning guns. However, some GOP lawmakers are concerned that the information may not be relayed consistently (Megerian, 3/13).The New York Times: ‘Anti-Bloomberg Bill’ In Mississippi Bars Local Restrictions On Food And DrinkTo that end, the people who govern the state with the highest rate of obesity in the nation have passed a bill saying that any law that might restrict what Mississippians eat or drink has to go through them — barring federal regulations (Severson, 3/13).The Washington Post: Small-Business Health Exchange Mandate Will Go To D.C. CouncilA District board is moving full steam ahead with a controversial plan to require small businesses in the city to purchase their employee health insurance through a government exchange (DeBonis, 3/13).Los Angeles Times: Lawmaker Wants To Expand Roles Of Medical ProfessionalsCiting a doctor shortage in California, a state lawmaker wants to expand the roles of nurse practitioners, pharmacists and optometrists to help treat what is expected to be a crush of newly insured Californians seeking care next year under the federal healthcare law. At a news conference at a community clinic here, state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) announced plans Wednesday to introduce a series of bills that would redefine professional boundaries for certain mid-level health workers, allowing them to provide more services than currently allowed under state law (Mishak, 3/13). Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. First Edition: March 14, 2013
Some Drug Makers Cut Payments, Meals Provided To Doctors The Wall Street Journal: Some Drug Makers Cut Payments, Meals Provided To DoctorsTwo pharmaceutical companies that are among the biggest payers of fees to doctors reduced such spending last year by double-digit percentages, as greater transparency sheds light on the hundreds of millions of dollars the industry pays physicians for marketing and research efforts (Loftus, 4/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Group Offers Budget Plan With $560 Billion In Health Care Savings The Bipartisan Policy Center released a new fiscal blueprint on Thursday that includes — among its 40 recommendations — significant trims to Medicare and changes that would scrap the current Medicare physician payment formula while also improving the program’s coordination of care. Another approach is being advanced by former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who headed President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Bipartisan Center Offers Plan To Reduce Health SpendingMedicare beneficiaries would have access to better coordinated medical care and the current Medicare physician payment formula would be scrapped as part of a health care cost containment plan the Bipartisan Policy Center unveiled Thursday. The plan offers more than 50 recommendations that would cut the federal deficit by about $560 billion over the next decade. About $300 billion of those savings would come from Medicare (Carey, 4/19).The Fiscal Times: New Plan Targets $560 Billion Of Health Care SavingsJust in time for Washington’s latest debate over spending, taxes and entitlement reform, the Bipartisan Policy Center on Thursday unveiled a series of proposals aimed at lowering the government’s health care costs and improving the quality and value of medical services (Pianin, 4/19).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Fiscal Commission Leaders Alan Simpson And Erskine Bowles Introduce Modified Budget PlanThe plan released Thursday by and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles would lop more than $5 trillion from deficits over the upcoming decade when combined with the deficit-cutting steps enacted in fits and starts since his 2010 proposal. … The revised Simpson-Bowles plan proposes about $600 billion in increased taxes over the coming 10 years on top of the $600 billion-plus signed by Obama in January, another $600 billion or so in cuts to Medicare, and deeper cuts to domestic agencies and the Pentagon than proposed by the president (4/19).Also in the news, a new poll gauges public opinion about changes to Medicare – The Associated Press/Washington Post: AP-GfK Poll: Public Lacks Faith In Government, Opposes Changes To Medicare, Social SecurityMost adults disapprove of Obama’s handling of the federal deficit, a festering national problem. But they also dislike key proposals to reduce deficit spending, including a slower growth in Social Security benefits and changes to Medicare (4/18).
Speaking in Texas, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said it was up to state leaders to propose alternative ways to expand health coverage to the poor. Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott raised privacy concerns related to so-called navigators, who will be trained to walk people through their insurance options under the health law.The Associated Press: Texas Gets Call To Talk Health CareIf Texas wants to tailor its own expansion of health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, then it’s now up to state leaders to reach out to the federal government to have a dialogue, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday (Lozano, 8/19).The Associated Press: Scott Raises Obamacare Privacy ConcernsGov. Rick Scott is joining other Republicans lawmakers around the country in questioning privacy issues surrounding the navigators hired to walk people through their health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act…Scott said there are many serious, unanswered questions and he plans to discuss the issue with his cabinet at a meeting Tuesday in Miami (Kennedy, 8/20).And, a new poll shows California support for the health law remains strong, while Politifact assesses Sen. Marco Rubio’s claim that Obamacare will harm his elderly mother – The Sacramento Bee: Field Poll Shows Continued Support For Health Care Overhaul In CaliforniaA majority of California voters remain unflinching in their support of the federal health care overhaul, though nearly half of the electorate predicts it won’t affect them much, according to a new Field Poll. Forty-six percent of California voters – a plurality – say they do not expect to be much better or worse off when the law is fully enacted, according to the poll. Of those who do expect their families to be affected, 23 percent predict they’ll fare better, 26 percent worse (Siders, 8/20).Tampa Bay Times/Politifact: Will Obamacare Hurt Medicare Advantage? U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has vigorously opposed Obamacare for many reasons. Lately, he’s been invoking his mother, suggesting she’ll be harmed by the president’s health care plan. Mrs. Rubio is one of the millions who choose to receive Medicare benefits through privately run Medicare Advantage plans. … We won’t rate Rubio’s statement on our Truth-O-Meter, since it’s essentially a prediction. But as we’ll see, experts told us Rubio’s remarks oversimplify matters and put too much blame on the health care law for a situation that predates Obamacare (Sutton, 8/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Sebelius Urges Texas Leaders To Pitch Plan To Cover Poor
The Washington Post: Is Health Care Spending A Stealth Jobs Program? Here is the most interesting fact about the economy that you’ve never heard: Without health-care spending, the rest of the economy is barely producing more than it did in late 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. We’ve spent 5½ years struggling to get back where we were, and many industries are hardly making it. … Health spending accounts for almost half the economy’s meager overall gain (Robert J. Samuelson, 8/21). The Washington Post: The GOP’s Obamacare Youth Hoax It’s rare for a political party to trumpet a position that unintentionally reveals its myopia, incoherence and expediency. Yet such is the trifecta with the Republican campaign to call attention to Obamacare’s young “victims.” Republicans are obsessed with the supposed injustice being done to some healthy young people who will effectively subsidize their sicker elders when Obamacare’s individual mandate takes effect (Matt Miller, 8/21). The Wall Street Journal: The Man Who Was Treated For $17,000 Less Let consumers and providers interact through market forces to drive down prices and drive up quality, like we do when we buy groceries, clothing, cars, computers, etc. Drop the focus on prepaid health plans and return to the days of real health insurance—that covers major, unforeseen events, leaving the everyday expenses to the consumer—just like auto and homeowners’ insurance. Sadly, we are heading in the exact opposite direction. ObamaCare expands the role of the third party and practically eliminates the role—and the say—of the patient in the delivery of health care (Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, 8/21). The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Do Have Ideas For Health Care Many congressional Republicans, such as Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn and Wyoming’s Sen. Mike Enzi, have long advocated making health insurance completely portable so workers can take their plans with them from job to job. This means giving individuals who buy coverage for themselves a tax advantage similar to the one that employers enjoy when they cover employees. That change also could make coverage more affordable for the self-employed and even universal for all workers (Karl Rove, 8/21). JAMA: Health Care Safety-Net AmbivalenceI’m conflicted about the health care safety net. I say this as someone who has worked as a primary care physician in a public hospital for more than 25 years. … There’s something truly inspiring about working shoulder to shoulder with those who attempt to combat social injustice by helping patients who seek care in the safety net. But the inconvenient truth is that the safety net often lets these patients down. The safety net does not achieve a level of performance found in non–safety-net institutions (Dr. Andrew Bindman, 8/21).The Fiscal Times: How Obamacare Signals The End Of Government InsuranceIn four months, Americans will have to prove to the IRS that they have health insurance—the kind that qualifies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). … The White House tried that strategy to limit the political damage from Barack Obama’s signature legislation during the 2014 elections, but even with the delays, the reaction to Obamacare’s perverse incentives look damning to Democrats in the mid-terms (Edward Morrissey, 8/22).Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Insurance Rates In And Out Of Exchange Reflect Competitive MarketThe number of plans and participating insurance companies show that Colorado has a very competitive insurance market, unlike other states where one or two insurance companies control the market. That makes it difficult to compare Colorado’s rates with other states. But rates alone aren’t the whole story. Coverage will be guaranteed regardless of health status, many old restrictions have been eliminated and benefits will be much more comprehensive across the board (Bob Serno, 8/21). Viewpoints: Health Spending Driving U.S. Recovery; Time To Get Rid Of The Insurance Middle Man This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Today’s headlines include reports detailing the contents of the health law’s “war room” notes as well as scene-setters for today’s Senate hearing testimony about healthcare.gov by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Kaiser Health News: Labor Unions May Get Health Law Tax ReliefKaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock reports: “Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health-law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes. Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting ‘certain self-insured, self-administered plans’ from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016” (Hancock, 11/6). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Obama Administration Hoping 800K Enroll By End Of NovemberNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Phil Galewitz reports: “About 800,000 people are expected to enroll in the new online health insurance marketplaces by the end of November, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said Tuesday at a congressional hearing. A CMS official said later that estimate includes people signing up for Medicaid as well as private insurance” (Galewitz, 11/5). Check out what else is on the blog.The Wall Street Journal: Obama Recalibrates ‘Keep Your Insurance’ PledgePresident Barack Obama has continued to recalibrate his promise that “you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan” under the Affordable Care Act, adding new language to those oft-repeated words and arguing that those who are losing their insurance will end up with better coverage. The altered phrasing comes amid criticism that Mr. Obama didn’t properly characterize the law since thousands of Americans are receiving notices that their health insurance has been canceled. The administration has worked to explain how events on the ground match Mr. Obama’s assurances that the new federal law wouldn’t force people out of their health plans (Nelson and Nicholas, 11/5).Los Angeles Times: Obama Adjusts Pitch For Healthcare LawWhile a team of techies tries to reboot the broken federal insurance website, President Obama is trying to retool efforts to promote the flailing healthcare law. The flawed launch of the new online marketplaces has forced Obama to spend time defending the insurance exchanges rather than selling them to a skeptical public, as he had planned. More than a month into the rollout, he has few bright spots to highlight and one big gaping hole to avoid: The website he planned to sell with the zeal of a late-night infomercial pitchman does not work properly (Hennessey and Mascaro, 11/6).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama To Pitch Health Care Law In Texas, Drawing Attention To High Rate Of UninsuredBeset by hard-to-keep promises and a massive website failure, President Barack Obama is promoting his embattled health care law in the state with the highest rate of uninsured Americans in the nation, but also the state that has been among the most politically hostile to the signature initiative of his presidency (11/6).USA Today: Obama Heads To Dallas For Health Care PR BlitzPresident Obama heads to Dallas on Wednesday to make his case for uninsured Americans to enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act — heading to a city in a “red state” that the administration believes is prime to hear the president’s pitch. Obama will be visiting an area that has one of the highest concentrations of uninsured people in the USA — with more than 670,000, or 28% of Dallas County’s population, uninsured (Madhani, 11/5).Politico: Obama To Pressure Perry On Health Care During Texas VisitPresident Barack Obama plans to call on Texas Gov. Rick Perry – one of the most prominent Obamacare foes in the country – to follow the lead of a handful of other Republican governors and agree to the expansion of Medicaid in the state as he visits Dallas on Wednesday. “This isn’t a political issue. This is about making sure people where they live have access to good quality, affordable health care,” White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy David Simas said Tuesday as he previewed the president’s trip (Epstein, 11/5).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama’s Chief Of Staff Asks Largest Health Insurers To Help Explain Cancellations To AmericansThe White House is asking insurance companies to explain to Americans the cancellation letters they’re receiving in the mail. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, met Tuesday with CEOs from some of the largest health insurers. The White House says McDonough updated the CEOs on fixes to healthcare.gov and problems with enrollment data sent electronically to insurers. McDonough also solicited input on whether the system is getting better (11/5).The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Urged To Extend Policies Beyond Year-EndFederal lawmakers and state officials are stepping up pressure on insurers to allow consumers whose coverage has been canceled in response to the health overhaul to keep their policies beyond the end of the year. On Tuesday, one of the largest regional health plans in the nation, Blue Shield of California, said it would relax its stance on terminated policies for about 115,000 people after state regulators demanded it do so. Customers now will have until March to decide which plan to choose for 2014, a three-month extension. Because the newer plans generally cost more, the extension could save residents as much as $28.6 million on premiums, said Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner (Martin and Radnofsky, 11/5).The New York Times: Notes Reveal Chaotic White House Talks On Health Care SiteMore than 100 pages of “war room notes” released by congressional investigators on Tuesday offer a window into the chaos that overwhelmed the Obama administration as the federal health insurance marketplace started up last month and officials realized that its problems could not be fixed quickly (Pear, 11/5).Politico: Darrell Issa Releases 175 Pages Of Obamacare ‘War Room’ NotesA slew of newly released notes documenting Obamacare’s first month fill in more of the blanks of how the troubled launch unfolded but don’t reveal any enrollment numbers. During the first few days following the federal exchange site’s Oct. 1 launch, the Obama administration publicly blamed the HealthCare.gov glitches on high website traffic. But the 175 pages of notes from the Obamacare “war room” — released Tuesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — contain little to no mention of higher-than-expected volume (Cunningham, 11/5).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Questions Mount Over Incomplete Testing Of Healthcare.gov WebsiteObama administration officials are facing mounting questions about whether they cut corners on security testing while rushing to meet a self-imposed deadline to launch online health insurance markets. Documents show that the part of HealthCare.gov that consumers interact with directly received only a temporary six-month security certification because it had not been fully tested before Oct. 1, when the website went live. It’s also the part of the system that stores personal information (11/6).The Wall Street Journal: Health-Site Security Concerns RaisedThe Obama administration official overseeing the troubled federal health-insurance website acknowledged Tuesday that a North Carolina man accidentally received another applicant’s personal information, raising concerns among lawmakers about the site’s security (Schatz, 11/5).Politico: Security Experts Fear ACA VulnerabilitiesEarly stumbles on the hobbled Obamacare website — password glitches, incomplete testing and fractured development — underscore considerable safety risks and hint at deeper vulnerabilities, data security experts warn. Lawmakers seized on those concerns Tuesday and will most likely do so again Wednesday, reverting attention to a process that has astounded IT specialists (Meyers, 11/5).Politico: Obamacare Could Increase Food Stamp RollsRepublicans have another reason to hate Obamacare: It could grow the number of people on food stamps. The Obama administration has ordered a study to determine whether the Affordable Care Act, by increasing the number of people eligible for Medicaid, will also increase the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program based on how states enroll people (Parti, 11/5).Los Angeles Times: State Insurance Chief Faults Health Exchange For CancellationsStepping into the national backlash over health policy cancellations, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones faulted the state’s health exchange for requiring insurers to terminate coverage Dec. 31, but acknowledged that he has little power to stop it. Jones reiterated his support for President Obama’s healthcare law Tuesday, but he said these cancellation notices and the resulting avalanche of consumer complaints were an unnecessary blunder (Terhune, 11/5).NPR: In Colorado, A Couple Finds Relief In ObamacareThere’s plenty of criticism of the Affordable Care Act and how it’s being implemented. But let’s introduce you to someone who is quite pleased with her Obamacare experience: Lela Petersen of Flagler, Colo. She’s a small business owner with a very big health insurance bill (Brady, 11/6).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Sebelius Back To Capitol Hill For Fresh Grilling On Health Care As lawmakers’ Worries GrowHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is returning to Capitol Hill for a fresh interrogation on the health care law, this time from senators with growing concerns about President Barack Obama’s crowning legislative achievement. Sebelius was due to face questions Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., was a chief author of the 2010 law and remains a vocal defender. Yet in a measure of its troubled rollout, even he has concerns about the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov website and the potential security risks it poses for consumers’ private information (11/6).Los Angeles Times: Senators Grill Obamacare Administrator Over Healthcare.govThe top Obamacare administrator told a Senate committee that setbacks will not hamper overall enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, which she said was expected to start slowly and then grow before the 2014 deadline to carry insurance coverage. Democrats joined Republicans on Tuesday grilling Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is overseeing the website for the Health and Human Services Department (Mascaro, 11/5).The Washington Post: Medicare Chief Marilyn Tavenner Testifies Before Senate On Healthcare.gov TroublesAn administration official overseeing the federal online health insurance marketplace encouraged Americans to log on to the Web site despite its well-publicized technical problems and try to shop for coverage. Testifying Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Marilyn Tavenner said her agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), plans to release information next week about who enrolled through the state and federal exchanges. She said the target for the end of November is 800,000 enrollments (Somashekhar and Goldstein, 11/5).The Wall Street Journal: HCA 3rd-Quarter Profit Up 1.4% Amid Modest Growth in Admissions, RevenueThe company said it now expects adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the year near the upper end of its previously guidance for $6.25 billion to $6.5 billion (Stynes, 11/5).The Associated Press/Washington Post: McAuliffe Elected Governor, Defeats Cuccinelli After Pledging To Expand State’s Medicaid RollsIn his emotional concession speech, Cuccinelli also noted the lopsided spending and vowed he would not give up on his fight against Democrats’ national health care law. … From the outset, the campaign shaped up as a barometer of voters’ moods and a test of whether a swing-voting state like Virginia would elect a tea party-style governor. Republicans bet a deeply conservative candidate would be their best shot at holding onto the governor’s office, passing over a lieutenant governor for Cuccinelli, a crusader against the federal health care law (11/6).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. First Edition: November 6, 2013
Modern Healthcare reports that some legal experts say it will be tough to convince judges to overturn the controversial rule on classifying Medicare in-patients. Modern Healthcare: AHA Lawsuit Over ‘Two-Midnight’ Rule Called Uphill BattleThe CMS’ so-called “two-midnight” rule was intended to clarify which patients are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital by requiring doctors to certify they have good reason to expect patients to need two nights in the hospital. Only then will Medicare pay inpatient hospital rates for the patients’ care. … Monday, the American Hospital Association and a coalition of members filed two federal lawsuits challenging the rule and its reduction in payments to hospitals. … Medicare’s recovery auditors have been banned from auditing hospitals under the two-midnight policy until March 2015 (Carlson, 4/15). Meanwhile — Pioneer Press: Medicare Data: Minnesota Providers Collect Less On Average Than PeersThe federal Medicare health insurance program winds up paying the fare for many of the ambulance rides provided by the city of St. Paul. That’s why the city in 2012 was one of the largest single recipients of the program’s payments among nonhospital health care providers in Minnesota, according to data released this month by the federal government. Of more than 19,000 providers who in 2012 cared for Medicare patients in Minnesota, St. Paul’s take of more than $2 million was the ninth-largest individual sum (Snowbeck, 4/15). A Heavy Lift? Legal Challenge To Medicare’s ‘Two Midnight’ Rule This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Today’s headlines include reports about emerging political strategies related to the health law and the upcoming congressional elections. Kaiser Health News: VA, California Panels Urge Costly Hepatitis C Drugs For Sickest PatientsKaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: “Doctors should consider expensive new hepatitis C drugs for patients with advanced liver disease, including those awaiting transplants, but ask most others to wait for drugs in development, the Department of Veterans said Wednesday” (Appleby, 4/17). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Hospitals Get Into Doctor Rating Business; Hospital Visits Fell When Seniors Got Drug CoverageNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Phil Galewitz reports about hospitals and patient ratings: “After some doctors at University of Utah Health Care noticed scathing online reviews about themselves in 2012, the hospital system decided the best way to respond was by posting its patients’ ratings of physicians on the hospital’s own website. The hospital was already randomly surveying patients about their experiences with physicians” (Galewitz, 4/17). Also on Capsules, Jay Hancock reports on new research regarding Medicare Part D: “Researchers at the University of Illinois and the Johns Hopkins University have made the broadest test yet of Medicare Part D prescription drug program’s promise — that covering drugs would keep seniors out of the hospital. Comparing national records from before and after 2006, when Part D kicked in, they found that drug coverage was associated with an 8 percent drop in hospital admissions and nearly as much in hospital-cost savings — an amount they calculate to be $1.5 billion a year” (Hancock, 4/16). Check out what else is on the blog.Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Effects Are Bigger Than Expected, Poll FindsPresident Obama’s health law has led to an even greater increase in health coverage than previously estimated, according to new Gallup survey data, which suggests that about 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage since last fall. That is millions more than Gallup found in March and suggests that as many as 4 million people have signed up for some kind of insurance in the last several weeks as the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act drew to a close (Levey, 4/16).The Associated Press: Defend ‘Obamacare’ Unabashedly, Some Democrats SayWith enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it’s time to stop hiding from the president’s health care overhaul, even in this year’s toughest Senate elections. Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace “Obamacare,” the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread (4/17).The Wall Street Journal: GOP Fall Strategy: Slam Health LawRepublican leaders are telling the party’s House members that persistent criticism of the federal health-care law is the best path to victory this fall regardless of how the law’s implementation evolves ahead of the November elections. Leaders of the congressional wing of the party say opposition to the Affordable Care Act will resonate with the voters most likely to go to the polls, and they are encouraging House members, currently at home for a two-week recess, to keep up their attack (Crittenden, 4/16).The Washington Post: Census Bureau: Question Changes Make It Easier To Assess Health Insurance LawConcerns, first reported in the New York Times, have arisen that changes in the phrasing of one survey’s questions may make future comparisons more difficult. Critics of the health-care law have accused the Census Bureau of working to fudge the numbers so the White House can claim more success than is merited. Thompson said that Census Bureau demographers had been preparing for many years to modify the questions and that the changes should make it easier to measure the law’s impact, not harder (Morello, 4/16).The Associated Press: DC Extends Deadline To Enroll In Health PlansMore than 2,000 District of Columbia residents either enrolled in a health insurance plan or were found to be eligible for Medicaid after the official end of open enrollment on March 31, but a spike in call volume this week led to another extension of the deadline, officials said Wednesday. The district was one of a handful of states that joined President Barack Obama’s administration in offering a grace period into April for people who started applications but didn’t finish them by the end of March (4/16).The Associated Press: New York Says 960,000 Enrolled In Health Exchange More than 960,000 New Yorkers signed up for health insurance through the state exchange, officials said Wednesday. About 94,000 of those finished applying in the two weeks after the original March 31 deadline, according to figures released by the exchange’s executive director, Donna Frescatore. That leaves the program about 140,000 shy of a goal of 1.1 million enrollees by 2016, a sign of the public’s “tremendous interest” in it, Frescatore said (4/16).The Associated Press: Va. Small Business Owners Advocate For MedicaidA group of small business owners want Virginia House Republicans to drop their opposition to expanding publicly funded health care to low-income residents. Lee Russell, a butcher from Fredericksburg is scheduled to deliver a letter Wednesday signed by more than 400 current and former small business owners to House Speaker William J. Howell (4/16).USA Today: New Data Signal Smaller Jump In Health Care CostsStatisticians working with insurers to project next year’s insurance premium rates say they expect to see an average increase of about 7%, well below the feared double-digit increases making recent headlines. “The double-rate increases we’ve been hearing are probably exaggerated,” says Dave Axene, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries. … Axene says that as insurers dig through the new health exchange enrollees to figure out their ages and health conditions to determine next year’s premiums, he expects an overall increase of 6% to 8.5%. He bases that on work he and others within the society have done with insurance clients. Before the Affordable Care Act, premiums rose an average of 7-10% a year (Kennedy, 4/16).The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: Price Transparency Stinks In Health Care. Here’s How The Industry Wants To Change That.There’s been much written in the past year about just how hard it is to get a simple price for a basic health-care procedure. The industry has heard the rumblings, and now it’s responding. About two dozen industry stakeholders, including main lobbying groups for hospitals and health insurers, this morning are issuing new recommendations for how they can provide the cost of health-care services to patients (Millman, 4/16).ProPublica/NPR: Medicare Kept Paying Indicted, Sanctioned DoctorsIn August 2011, federal agents swept across the Detroit area, arresting doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals accused of running a massive scheme to defraud Medicare (Ornstein, 4/17).The New York Times: For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall SharplyFederal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades (Tavernise and Grady, 4/16).The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth’s Profit DeclinesUnitedHealth is the first major health insurer to report its results for the latest quarter, the first period to reflect the Affordable Care Act. Planned reductions in government funding for Medicare Advantage and other provisions of the health law are expected to affect the managed-care provider’s performance this year. UnitedHealth has improved its results recently through membership growth. At the end of the latest period, the number of people who had health coverage through the UnitedHealthcare insurance business reached 44.7 million, compared with 42 million a year earlier and 45.4 million people at the end 2013 (Stynes, 4/17).The Associated Press: UnitedHealth’s 1Q Profit Tumbles 8 PercentUnitedHealth Group says its first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as fees and funding cuts from the health care overhaul helped dent the performance of the nation’s largest health insurer. UnitedHealth says it earned $1.1 billion, or $1.10 per share, in the three months that ended March 31. That’s down from $1.19 billion, or $1.16 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $31.71 billion (4/17).NPR: Free Drug Samples Prompt Skin Doctors To Prescribe Costlier MedsEvery “free” sample comes with a price. Dermatologists who accept free tubes and bottles of brand-name drugs are likelier to prescribe expensive medications for acne than doctors who are prohibited from taking samples, a study reports Wednesday (Doucleff, 4/16).The Washington Post: Gansler Calls Health Care ‘A Right’ In His Latest TV Ad For Maryland GovernorMaryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler is keeping the focus on health care in his latest television ad. In the 15-second spot, Gansler, Maryland’s attorney general, tells viewers that “health care is a right” (Wagner, 4/16).The New York Times: Sebelius Said to Weigh Run for Kansas Senate SeatIn her darkest hour last fall, Kathleen Sebelius suffered one of the deepest cuts from an old family friend who accused her of “gross incompetence” over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and demanded that she resign as secretary of health and human services. Now she is weighing revenge. Ms. Sebelius is considering entreaties from Democrats who want her to run against that old friend, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas (Peteres, 4/16).The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: New York Court Guts A Groundbreaking Health-Care Fun That Would Have Changed Taxi Drivers’ LivesUntil late last week, help seemed close. In 2012, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission had voted to take six cents on every fare for a fund that would help with exactly these kinds of situations, providing upwards of $300 per week in assistance as soon as a driver could produce a doctor’s note. The money started flowing in February, and Singh was just waiting for newly installed Mayor Bill DeBlasio to greenlight a contract for the fund’s administrator, who could then begin doling out cash. And then, on Friday, Singh’s hopes fizzled: A New York State Supreme Court judge struck down the TLC’s rule, in a decision that may limit how independent workers — who are exposed to the most economic risk and enjoy the fewest legal protections — can collectively organize for benefits that are otherwise beyond their reach (DePillis, 4/16).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. First Edition: April 17, 2014 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
TD Bank beats estimates with $3.17 billion profit Provisions for credit losses in the quarter totalled $633 million, up from $556 million a year ago Twitter Sponsored By: TORONTO — TD Bank Group earned a second-quarter profit $3.17 billion, up from $2.92 billion in the same quarter last year.The Toronto-based lender says the profit amounted to $1.70 per diluted share for the quarter ended April 30, up from $1.54 per share per share a year ago.Provisions for credit losses in the quarter totalled $633 million, up from $556 million a year ago.On an adjusted basis, TD says it earned $1.75 per share in the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $1.62 per share in its second quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.67 per share, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.TD reported its Canadian retail business earned $1.85 billion, up from $1.83 billion a year ago, while its U.S. retail business earned $1.26 billion, up from $979 million. Profit at its wholesale banking business fell to $221 million, compared with $267 million a year ago.Related Stories:Kinder Morgan Declares $0.25 Per Share Dividend and Announces Results for Second Quarter of 2019Walgreens third-quarter profit falls 23.6%European shares fall as BASF profit warning hits German stocks Facebook TD Bank Group earned a second-quarter profit of $3.17 billion.Peter J. Thompson/National Post files The Canadian Press advertisement Comment More Share this storyTD Bank beats estimates with $3.17 billion profit Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Featured Stories Reddit Join the conversation → Email ← Previous Next → What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Recommended For YouU.S. FDA approves Karyopharm Therapeutics’ blood cancer drugOntario Cannabis Store pulls affected CannTrust products amid Health Canada probeUPDATE 2-FDA approves expanded label for Regeneron/Sanofi’s DupixentTrump pick for Fed seat says doesn’t want to pull rug from under market -CNBCAP Explains: US sanctions on Huawei bite, but who gets hurt? May 23, 20196:55 AM EDTLast UpdatedMay 23, 20197:02 AM EDT Filed under News FP Street 0 Comments