First Edition: Nov. 11, 2011
In today's health policy headlines, reports about the challenges the super committee continues to confront as the clock ticks toward its deadline, as well as news about the Supreme Court's expected announcement on whether it will hear health law appeals.
Kaiser Health News: Tough Lessons From America's Health Reform History – The KHN Interview With Paul Starr (Video)
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau talks with Paul Starr about "Remedy and Reaction," his new book. Starr, a health policy adviser during the Clinton administration, looks at America's ongoing and bitter struggle with reforming its health care system (11/10).
Kaiser Health News: Florida Politics Creating Bumps On Health Information 'Highway'
WFSU reporter Lynn Hatter, reporting as part of a partnership that includes Kaiser Health News, NPR and WFSU, filed this story: "Florida is one of the first states to help doctors and hospitals adopt a new way of transferring patient information. The idea behind the Health Information Exchange Network, run by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, is 'the exchange is the highway, the electronic record is the car,' according to Heidi Fox, who is directing the effort" (Hatter, 11/10).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Says Nothing About Whether It Will Hear Appeals Over Health Care Overhaul
The Supreme Court is not immediately saying whether it will make an election-year determination on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Justices met in private conference Thursday to consider new cases to hear next year. Appeals surrounding the health care overhaul were on the list to be discussed, but there was no announcement as to whether the hot-button issue had even been discussed (11/10).
The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog: Decision On Health Care Cases Could Come Monday
The Supremes met behind closed doors today for their regular conference. We still don’t know if they decided to grant any of the petitions for review of health-care overhaul cases. But we could know by Monday, according to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog. The Supreme Court will issue its next round of orders on pending cases on Monday at 10 a.m., the court announced this afternoon. There won't be any opinions in argued cases (Palazzolo, 11/10).
Los Angeles Times: Tax Issues Stall Deficit Committee As Deadline Nears
Deadlock. Impasse. Cooling-off period. Call it what you will, but the congressional super committee on deficit reduction has again stalled out after a flurry of proposals this week from Republican and Democratic members as the Thanksgiving deadline approaches. But the stalemate revolves around the issues that have stunted such efforts all year: Republicans are unwilling to agree to the scale of new revenues Democrats insist are needed to get their agreement to cut Medicare and other domestic spending and entitlement programs (Mascaro, 11/10).
Politico: Supercommittee Tries To Salvage $1T Deal
It all adds up to major obstacles ahead of the supercommittee's Nov. 23 deadline to propose $1.2 trillion in budget savings. Failure could shake confidence in world markets and spark automatic cuts across the federal government starting in 2013. Talks about restructuring the so-called trigger of spending cuts has grown more serious in recent days (Sherman and Raju, 11/10).
Politico: Supercommittee Chair 'Not Giving Up Hope'
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the top Republican on the deficit supercommittee, said Thursday the main obstacle to a deal is Democratic insistence that tax increases be coupled with reforming health care programs. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dismissed the latest GOP offer as a "phony deal" and said that he was not encouraged by the progress of the talks (Sherman and Raju, 11/10).
The Wall Street Journal: Activist's Antitax Pledge Looms Large In Debt Talks
Mr. Norquist isn't shy about trying to influence the 12-member supercommittee as it looks for $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over 10 years. When Republicans recently presented a plan that would raise money by capping tax deductions, Mr. Norquist tweeted that it was an "idiot idea." On Thursday, he co-wrote a piece in Politico addressed to the supercommittee that was headlined, "The answer is: spend less. Period." Republicans and Democrats have offered plans in recent days. Each has been dismissed by the other side, but they have some common elements. The GOP proposal would cut spending by $700 billion and raise revenue by $500 billion, including $250 billion from limiting tax breaks. Democrats question whether trimming tax breaks would really generate that much (Bendavid, 11/11).
The New York Times: Senate Approves Two Pieces Of Jobs Bill
But lawmakers saw little evidence of such cooperation in the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is supposed to vote on its final recommendations by Nov. 23. A co-chairman of the committee, Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, broke his silence on the panel’s internal deliberations on Thursday and assailed Democrats as intransigent. Mr. Hensarling said that Republicans had made "a major concession" by proposing tax increases, and he asserted that Democrats had not reciprocated by proposing major cuts in the growth of benefits programs like Medicare and Medicaid (Pear and Steinhauer, 11/10).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Senate Kills GOP Jobs Plan Cutting Tax Rates, Repealing Health Care Law And Other Regulations
A divided Senate has voted to kill a Republican plan that would cut income tax rates, repeal the new health care law and block or overturn dozens of environmental, labor and energy rules. The 56-40 vote was mostly along party lines (11/10).
The Washington Post: Wonk Blog: Should Government Regulate Health Care Prices? Massachusetts Weighs The Option.
After passing universal coverage, Massachusetts is now in the throes of a debate about how to bring down its skyrocketing health care costs. And the state’s new proposal to regulate how much providers charge for health care could mark a very important and controversial chapter in that fight (Kliff, 11/10).
USA Today: Medical Testing Companies' Medicare Deal Scrutinized
The Senate Finance Committee is probing medical testing companies to determine if they offer insurers heavy discounts in exchange for the insurers funneling all of their Medicare tests their way, Senate investigators and a former company employee have told USA TODAY (Kennedy, 11/10).
Chicago Tribune: Illinois Mammogram Providers To Be Paid More If They Submit Quality Breast Cancer Data
Starting next year, health facilities and providers in Illinois that perform screening and diagnostic mammograms will receive higher Medicaid reimbursement for the procedures if they voluntarily submit data showing how well they identify small cancers and track women with abnormal mammograms, among other quality measures (Shelton, 11/11).
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