In a 198 to 161 vote, house members passed a bill that would allow for-profit specialty hospitals to avoid going through the certificate of need regulatory process. The bill also exempts these hospitals, most of which do not take Medicaid patients, from paying the state's Medicaid Enhancement Tax.
Opponents say the bill gives an unfair advantage to these for-profit specialty hospitals. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing New Hampshire as a location for a facility in the Northeast.
The sweeping health overhaul law turns 2 years old this Friday. And as it heads toward a constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court next week, the debate over the measure remains almost as heated as the day President Obama signed it into law.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., center, joins other conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill to criticize President Obama's health care law on Oct. 5, 2011. They said the boxes were packed with petitions asking Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010. Data suggest that racial attitudes of ordinary Americans shape both how they feel about the health care overhaul and how intense those feelings are. <em></em>
As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear a case involving the constitutionality of President Obama's health care overhaul, social scientists are asking a disturbing — and controversial — question: Do the intense feelings about the health care overhaul among ordinary Americans stem from their philosophical views about the appropriate role of government, or from their racial attitudes about the signature policy of the country's first black president?
Florida's Gov. Rick Scott, seen here speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last month, says of Medicaid, "It is absolutely not sustainable. If we do nothing, this line will bankrupt our state."
When the Supreme Court hears arguments over President Obama's health care law next week, one item on the table will be a program that has been in place for nearly 50 years.
Medicaid, a joint federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. Under the Affordable Care Act, it will be greatly expanded and provide coverage for millions of uninsured, including low-income adults without children.
The Certificate of Need Board approves new hospitals and expansions of existing medical centers in the state. Wednesday the house voted 166-140 to get rid of the board entirely. The House rejected an amendment which would have overhauled the existing board and phase it out over five years. The idea was to reconfigure the board with non-stakeholders, such as not allowing hospital representatives to serve.
Surgical robots like this one are wildly expensive. Before the economic troubles began, investment in such high-tech medical devices was plentiful. Now, hospitals are looking for comparatively simple solutions to cut costs: streamline medical billing and even investing in $1 catheters that can save upwards of $50,000.
It wasn't that long ago that money flowed steadily to entrepreneurs who dreamt up whiz-bang medical devices.
Hospitals souped up their surgical suites with robots or high-tech radiation machines for cancer treatment. Cost wasn't an issue: They just got passed along to insurance companies, who passed them on to employers and patients.
But after the Great Recession hit and the 2010 health law passed, the financiers behind the medical arms race started to rethink their investment calculus.
April Casanova-Rios (second from right) visits the school health center at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles with her family. Her son, Isaiah Casanova (to her right), is a sophomore at the school.
Under the federal health care law, money is going out around the country to help school campuses boost health services for their students.
At Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles students often visit a modest trailer at the back of the sprawling campus. It's in a neighborhood near downtown L.A. where houses are missing windows and have peeling paint.
The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill allowing not just Cancer Specialty Hospitals but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. All other hospitals in the state must go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.
Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker, Republican of Concord, voted in favor of the bill.
"We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options," she says.
Casaundra Bronner, of Hazelwood, Mo., worked in marketing before being laid off in March 2010. She found a job again in March 2011 but is still uninsured and having trouble getting the health care she needs.
Credit Whitney Curtis for NPR
Randy Howland, of St. Louis, lost his job in September 2009. He has found work again, but he still doesn't have insurance and has had seizures in the past. He pays for medication out of pocket, but doesn't get all the regular testing his doctors recommend.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, every state must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 2014. An exchange is a clearinghouse of sorts where people and small business can go to buy insurance and also find out which tax rebates they may use to help them buy coverage.
New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing a law that would do away with the Certificate of Need process. This is a state requirement for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that want to expand or establish new medical facilities. The aim of CON is to keep redundant healthcare out of the system.