First Edition: May 27, 2011
In today's headlines, more on Medicare's role in this week's special congressional election in New York as well as interesting state news developments.
Kaiser Health News: Health Law Provides Free Prevention Benefits With Caveats (Video)
Kaiser Health News' Insuring Your Health columnist Michelle Andrews talks with Jackie Judd about the provisions in the health law that provide for free preventive tests. While the law doesn't apply to all insurance plans, it should cut costs for many people (5/26).
Kaiser Health News: Proposals To Reduce Health Care Spending And The Deficit (Document)
Before the May 25 2011 Fiscal Summit, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation sought ideas on solutions for "America's unsustainable long-term fiscal challenges" from six groups that spanned the political spectrum: the American Enterprise Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and the Roosevelt Institute. Ideas included major changes to Medicare and Medicaid, adding a public option to buy insurance or for repealing the health law entirely. The foundation put out a document of all the plans, and included a summary table of the highlights.
Kaiser Health News: Letter To The Editor: Health Insurance Agents Are Not An 'Unnecessary Administrative Expense'
In this letter to Kaiser Health News, Ted Besesparis, senior vice president of communications at the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, writes: "In fact, the opposite is true. Encouraging the de facto removal of licensed agents and brokers from the process by severely restricting their compensation dilutes the ability of consumers to have access to the kind of expert professional advice and counsel they need" (5/26).
The Washington Post: Pawlenty Says That, As President, He Would Sign Ryan Medicare Plan
Pawlenty, who officially kicked off his presidential campaign on Monday and has been touring the nation with stops in Iowa, Florida, Washington and New Hampshire, went further than he has in previous appearances in which he has praised the "courage" and "leadership" of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the author of the Medicare proposal. But he stopped short of supporting the details of the plan (Gardner, 5/26).
NPR: Memo To GOP: Cutting Medicaid Is Unpopular, Too
Not that there was much doubt left, but Tuesday's uphill victory by Democrat Kathy Hochul in a special election in a New York congressional district long dominated by the GOP has made it pretty clear that the budget blueprint approved by House Republicans last month, which would effectively privatize Medicare, isn't so popular with lots of actual voters. But with health care still the No. 1 one issue driving the nation's long-term budget problems, advocates for seniors and the poor are worried that would-be budget balancers will set their sites on the vast Medicaid program for the poor instead (Rovner, 5/26).
The Washington Post: Boehner: Medicare Played 'Small Part' In New York Defeat
As both parties continue to spar over Medicare following Republicans' loss in a New York special election, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood by the his party's budget plan, while conceding that the House GOP's proposal to overhaul Medicare was a "small part" of his party's stinging defeat on Tuesday. House Democrats, meanwhile, kept up their attacks on the plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arguing that the 40 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the budget blueprint on Wednesday were the latest indication that the GOP has "a tin ear" on the issue (Sonmez, 5/26).
Politico: DCCC: Medicare Puts House In Play
Democrats say the House of Representatives has become much more competitive because of their success using Medicare as an issue to win the New York special election earlier this week (Haberkorn, 5/26).
NPR: After Senate's Medicare Vote, Ryan Remains Unbowed
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan was unbowed Thursday after the expected, but nonetheless stinging, rejection of his budget and Medicare proposal by the Senate. Ryan told NPR reporters he would do it all over again. He continued to call for Congress to do something urgent about the public debt - and continued to reject any notion of tax increases to help balance the ledger (Seabrook, 5/26).
The New York Times: Under An Arizona Plan, Smokers And Obese Would Pay Fee For Medicaid
Arizona, like many others states, says it is no longer able to adequately finance its Medicaid program. As part of a plan to cut costs, the state has proposed imposing a $50 fee on childless adults on Medicaid who are either obese or who smoke. In Arizona, almost half of all Medicaid recipients smoke; while the number of obese people is unclear, about one-in-four Arizonans is overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state's plan must ultimately be approved by the federal government. Monica Coury, spokeswoman for Arizona's Medicaid program, discusses (Williams, 5/26).
The New York Times: Vermont Governor Signs Health Care Law
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill on Thursday that sets Vermont on a path to creating the nation's first publicly financed health care (Goodnough, 5/27).
The Associated Press: Senators Ask HHS To Warn States Who Cut Funding
Some Democratic senators are asking a top government health official to warn states that if they try to exclude family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood from Medicaid and Title X funding, they'll face penalties from the federal government (5/27).
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