First Edition: May 6,2011
Today's headlines indicate that the GOP may be rethinking its plans to revamp Medicare -- especially as a new round of debt accord talks begin between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders.
Kaiser Health News: New Labels Will Soon Help Consumers Choose Health Plans
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Susan Jaffe writes: "For the first time, consumers shopping for a health policy will be able to get a good idea of how much of the costs different plans will cover for three medical conditions: maternity care, treatment for diabetes and breast cancer. And because buying insurance is more complicated than buying a can of soup, the proposed insurance labels are two pages long" (Jaffe, 5/5).
Kaiser Health News Video: Key Republicans Signal Flexibility On Ryan Plan For Medicare
In today's Health On The Hill, KHN's Mary Agnes Carey talks with Jackie Judd about Rep. Dave Camp's comments Thursday that signaled flexibility on Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to change Medicare. Camp said he's open to pursuing other approaches to reduce federal Medicare spending to lower the debt, and he called on Democrats to present specifics on how they would cut federal spending (5/5). Read the transcript.
Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: Yes, Cut Medicaid It Won't Be As Painful As You Think
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Michael Cannon writes: "The president and the Republicans agree that balancing the federal budget is impossible without restraining Medicaid spending. That will be much easier if we could stop pretending that every single Medicaid enrollee needs to be there" (5/5).
Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: The Real Impact Of Cutting Medicaid Just When We Need It The Most
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Harold Pollack writes: "Ryan's proposals won't become law anytime soon. Still, they exemplify this political moment's misguided mood and priorities. During the worst recession in decades, we are cutting needed services precisely when the need for them has grown" (5/5).
The New York Times: GOP Rethinking Bid To Overhaul Medicare Rules
House Republicans signaled Thursday that they were backing away from the centerpiece of their budget plan - a proposal to overhaul Medicare - in a decision that underscored both the difficulties and political perils of addressing the nation's long-term fiscal problems (Hulse and Calmes, 5/5).
Los Angeles Times: Seeking Debt Accord, GOP Backs Off Medicare Revamp
As talks begin between Biden and congressional leaders over how to shrink the federal deficit, Republican leaders acknowledge that their plan to privatize Medicare isn't moving forward any time soon (Mascaro and Parsons, 5/5).
The Washington Post: GOP Leaders Divided On Prospects For Medicare Deal With Democrats
Heading into key debt talks with the White House, congressional Republicans publicly split Thursday over the prospects for their ambitious proposal to transform Medicare. The division came as two senior Republicans, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), entered Blair House Thursday morning for the start of a broad fiscal negotiation with Vice President Biden and Senate Democrats. The talks are designed to reach a deal to allow the Treasury to continue borrowing money to finance the federal government in exchange for budgetary changes that would slash annual deficits (Rucker, Kane and Montgomery, 5/5).
The Washington Post: Budget Talks Focus On Common Ground While Medicare Stance Sparks GOP Split
Lawmakers from both parties opened budget talks with the White House on Thursday with a tacit agreement to focus on areas where they might find common ground that could produce significant savings and to postpone consideration of divisive issues such as higher tax rates and a dramatic overhaul of Medicare (Rucker and Montgomery, 5/5).
The New York Times: GOP Medicare Plan Shakes Up Race For House Seat
Only weeks ago, top Democrats appeared to have all but written off a special election for a Congressional seat in the suburbs of Buffalo. After all, Republican voters vastly outnumber Democrats in the district, and the Republican candidate, Jane L. Corwin, a well-liked state assemblywoman, seemed to be a shoo-in. Then along came Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Ryan, a top House Republican, released a plan calling for the most extensive overhaul of Medicare since it was created. That, it seems, has significantly changed the contest in New York's 26th Congressional District (Hernandez, 5/5).
The Wall Street Journal: Medicare Recedes In Debt Talks
Republicans had hoped changes to Medicare could be part of a sweeping deficit-cutting deal. But just a few weeks after nearly all House Republicans cast politically risky votes for a plan to transform the popular health program, GOP leaders say such a far-reaching proposal isn't likely to advance (Hook and Lee, 5/6).
Politico: Medicare Fight Exposes House GOP's Internal Rifts
The House Republican confusion over the party's Medicare stance Thursday underscores two worries for the GOP - an often insecure, rivalrous leadership and a very bright Budget Committee chairman given to jumping ahead of his troops (Rogers, 5/5).
Politico: Kathleen Sebelius: Seniors May 'Die Sooner' Under Ryan Plan
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the Ryan Medicare proposal will lead to early deaths among seniors. During testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, she said seniors "will run out of money very quickly" (Feder, 5/5).
ProPublica/USA Today: Medical Groups Sell Companies Access To Their Membership
Concerns about the influence of industry money have prompted universities such as Stanford and the University of Colorado-Denver to ban drug sales representatives from the halls of their hospitals and bar doctors from paid promotional speaking. Yet, one area of medicine still welcomes the largesse: societies that represent specialists. It's a relationship largely hidden from public view, said David Rothman, who studies conflicts of interest in medicine as director of the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University (Ornstein and Weber, 5/5).
The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: Medical Societies Weigh In On Permanent Fix To Medicare Reimbursement
At a House subcommittee meeting today, medical societies weighed in on how to fix the much-maligned Medicare physician payment formula. The current formula, which absolutely no one thinks can continue in its present form, is (ironically) called the Sustainable Growth Rate, or SGR. It pegs the growth of Medicare reimbursement to the GDP - problematic, since GDP growth has famously been outpaced by the increase in health-care spending for years. Automatic, across-the-board reimbursement cuts kick in if spending reaches a certain level (Hobson, 5/5).
Los Angeles Times: California Supreme Court Addresses Legal Deadlines For Tobacco Lawsuits
Smokers may sue the tobacco industry once they develop a disease like lung cancer, even if they suffered different smoking-related ailments years earlier, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday (Dolan, 5/6).
NPR: Dozens Of Questionable Deaths Seen In Assisted Care
In Florida, state regulators are failing to protect residents of assisted living facilities, according to an investigation by The Miami Herald and NPR member station WLRN. An analysis of state records revealed dozens of questionable deaths in assisted living facilities (Malone, 5/6).
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