First Edition: January 19, 2012
Today's headlines include news about a health exchange progress report from the White House and the latest activity on the GOP presidential primary campaign trail.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Washington State Bill Would Require Abortion Coverage; Vermont Moving Forward With Own Flavor Of Health Reform; A Health Exchange Progress Report, Sort Of…
Now on the Kaiser Health News' blog, Christian Torres reports on a bill in Washington state that would require abortion coverage: "'Personhood' has dominated the abortion debate in recent months, highlighted by the failure of a high-profile constitutional amendment in Mississippi. And while abortion rights advocates in several states continue to defend against other bills that would define an embryo or fetus as a person, advocates in Washington state are taking the offensive" (Torres, 1/19).
In addition, KHN's Jessica Marcy reports that Vermont is moving forward with its own health reforms: "Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration this week offered a bill to the legislature that lays out a plan for building the exchange, a type of marketplace for individuals and small groups to buy health insurance. The proposal would combine the small group and individual health insurance markets, would bar the sale of health insurance to individuals and small employers outside of the exchange and would define a small employer to be 100 employees or fewer instead of 50, which had been under consideration. The bill also seeks to clarify how the state should integrate Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor and disabled, into the exchange" (Marcy, 1/19).
Also on the blog, Julie Appleby reports on an Obama administration report on health exchanges: "They're making progress! Well, at least 28 of them and the District of Columbia are. That was the main talking point from the White House this morning during a press briefing revolving around a report stating that 28 states are 'on their way' to establishing new marketplaces, called exchanges, where consumers can begin to shop for health insurance starting in late 2013. The report outlines some of the actions taken in those states — run by Democrats and Republicans — to get started on the exchanges” (Appleby, 1/19). Check out what else is on the blog.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: White House Says Health Overhaul On Track In Many States, But Prepares Federal Backstop Anyway
President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is on track in many states, the White House asserted Wednesday. But officials said the administration is preparing a federal backstop anyway for states in which opposition to the new law has blocked planning (1/18).
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: White House Touts GOP Governors' Support Of Health Insurance Exchanges
A White House report Wednesday highlights positive remarks made by several Republican governors and state legislators about setting up health insurance exchanges in their states, a key element of the health care overhaul law. While 26 states controlled by Republicans are suing the administration to overturn the health care law — and all of the GOP presidential candidates have said they would scrap it — some governors have been working on setting up exchanges in their state, arguing that they're better off working with the federal government if the 2010 law stands (Radnofsky, 1/18).
The New York Times: Poll Shows Obama's Vulnerability With Swing Voters
As Mr. Obama moves toward a full-throated campaign, … a majority of independent voters have soured on his presidency, disapprove of how he has dealt with the economy and do not have a clear idea of what he hopes to accomplish if re-elected. … When asked whom they trust, the poll found that Mr. Obama has an advantage over Congressional Republicans in making the right decisions about creating jobs, health care, Medicare and Social Security. Yet the gap narrows on the economy ... with 44 percent of Americans saying they trust Mr. Obama and 40 percent saying they trust Republicans in Congress. The public is evenly split on who they trust to deal with the budget deficit (Zeleny and Sussman, 1/18).
The New York Times: Osteoporosis Patients Advised To Delay Bone Density Retests
Bone loss and osteoporosis develop so slowly in most women whose bones test normal at age 65 that many can safely wait as long as 15 years before having a second bone density test, researchers report in a new study. … Medicare pays for a bone density test every two years and many doctors have assumed that is the ideal interval, although national guidelines recommend them only at "regular intervals." "I think this will change the way doctors think about screening," Dr. Gourlay said (Kolata, 1/18).
Los Angeles Times: U.S. Asks Court To Reconsider Ruling On Bone Marrow Donations
The Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling that most bone marrow donors can be compensated for providing life-saving marrow cells harvested from their bloodstreams. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Dec. 1 that bone marrow filtered from a donor's blood was a blood part, not an organ part, and could be legally sold. But in a petition for rehearing by a full 11-judge panel of the court, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder, Jr., said the three-judge panel had ignored the clear intent of Congress to prevent money from influencing donation decisions (Williams, 1/19).
Los Angeles Times: Mitt Romney Surrogates Target Newt Gingrich
Former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri and ex-Rep. Susan Molinari of New York, both Romney backers who served with Gingrich in the House, blasted him as a wobbly conservative and a bomb-throwing leader more interested in promoting himself than the party. … Talent said Gingrich says things "that undermine the conservative movement," citing Gingrich's criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan, his opposition to the troop surge in Iraq, and his now-notorious couch klatch with Nancy Pelosi (Oliphant, 1/18).
Los Angeles Times: Rick Santorum Focuses On Gingrich With Time Running Out In S.C.
With attention turning toward Newt Gingrich as the conservative Republican with the best chance of catching front-runner Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum cranked up his assault on the former speaker of the House, questioning his steadiness and convictions. Santorum attacked Gingrich for his supporting the Wall Street bailout, a mandate to require individuals to have health insurance and the theory of global warming (Hoeffel, 1/18).
The New York Times: Cuomo Limits State Money For Salaries Of Contractors
Looking to rein in the use of public money to pay what he called excessive salaries, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday placing a $199,000 limit on the amount of state funds that contractors can use to pay executives. Organizations that contract with the state to provide services like health care may still pay their executives higher amounts, but the state will reimburse the provider only up to the stated amount, barring extraordinary circumstances, according to the order (Eligon, 1/18).
The Washington Post: Virginia Aging Association Introduces Medicare Anti-Fraud Website
The Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol Program website provides information and education to older Virginians and caregivers, including how to prevent, identify and report health care fraud and abuse. Some examples of fraud include medical identity theft, billing for services that aren’t provided or using improper codes for higher reimbursements (1/19).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Calif. Hopes For End To Court Oversight Of Prisons, Which Has Led To Billions In Higher Costs
Most of the prison system's core functions, from the care of mentally ill inmates to housing juvenile offenders, have been under the authority of federal and state courts for years. But the state appears to be emerging from more than a decade of lawsuits after a federal judge said Tuesday he is preparing to end court oversight of inmate medical care (1/18).
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