First Edition: May 26, 2011
In today's headlines, reports about the political repercussions -- specifically for Medicare -- that could result from the outcome of the NY-26 special election as well as details of the Senate's rejection of the House-passed GOP budget plan.
Kaiser Health News: Conservative Senior Group Comes Up Short In NY Race
Reporting for Kaiser health News, Marilyn Werber Serafini and Bara Vaida write about the conservative advocacy group, 60 Plus: "If 60 Plus' goal was to inoculate Corwin from attacks on the Medicare issue, the effort failed badly. Corwin was beaten soundly by Democratic opponent Kathy Hochul, partly because of voter fears about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's proposal to sharply transform Medicare" (Serafini and Vaida, 5/25).
Kaiser Health News: Md. Health Secretary Sharfstein: Health Law Brings 'Fast And Furious' Opportunity The KHN Interview
Kaiser Health News staff writer Christopher Weaver writes: "When the health law moved from the corridors of Congress last year to state capitals, where officials continue putting it into action, much of the controversy followed it." He spoke to Sharfstein about Maryland's plans and challenges, as well as his return to state government (Weaver, 5/25).
Kaiser Health News: Not All Medicare Cuts Are Created Equal (Guest Opinion)
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Jonathan Cohn writes that an issue for voters -- both in this week's New York special election and in the run up to 2012 -- has to do with the differences in the two parties' visions for Medicare's future. After all, Medicare cuts come in all different shapes and sizes (5/26).
The New York Times: Democrats Put GOP On Spot As Medicare Plan Fails
Less than 24 hours after their surprising victory in the race for a vacant House seat, Democrats forced Senate Republicans on Wednesday to vote yes or no on a bill that would reshape Medicare, signaling their intent to use the issue as a blunt instrument against Republicans through the 2012 election (Steinhauer, 5/25).
Los Angeles Times: Democrats See Hope For 2012 In Medicare
After months on the political defensive, Democrats are convinced their fortunes have turned, and the reason can be summed up in a single word: Medicare. By swiping a reliably Republican congressional seat in upstate New York - after making Medicare the central issue in the campaign - Democrats underscored, again, a truism of American politics: Voters are all in favor of spending cuts and hard choices, so long as someone else is swallowing the bitter pill (Barabak and Hennessey, 5/25).
The Associated Press: Dems Rejoice Over NY; Will Medicare Redo 2012?
Jubilant Democrats demanded Republicans abandon their sweeping plans to remake Medicare on Wednesday after casting a House race in upstate New York as a referendum on the popular program and emerging victorious. House Republicans made little if any attempt to demonstrate widespread support for their controversial proposal during the day. And the National Republican Congressional Committee offered no explanation for having let hundreds of thousands of dollars in Democratic-funded attacks on the proposed Medicare overhaul go unchallenged in its own television advertising (Espo, 5/25).
Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Blames Democrats For Distorting Medicare Plan In NY Election Loss
Reeling from a loss in what was considered a safe congressional district, Republicans insisted Wednesday that Democrat Kathy Hochul's victory in western New York was a fluke and not a sign that voters are restless over the party's aggressive stance on Medicare (Oliphant and Hennessey, 5/25).
Politico: Rep. Ryan Keeps Up Offensive
House GOP budget star Paul Ryan is keeping up his offensive against Democrats who claim their victory in a New York special election Tuesday night was a rebuke of his budget plan that overhauls Medicare. Democrats "are shamelessly demagoguing and distorting" Medicare, "trying to scare seniors and using this as a political weapon," Ryan said Tuesday morning at the Peterson Foundation Summit in Washington (Shiner, 5/25).
Los Angeles Times: House Republicans' Budget Plan Defeated In The Senate
The Senate roundly rejected the House GOP budget on Wednesday, with five Republicans joining most Democrats in shooting down the proposal to dramatically alter Medicare that has rattled the Republican Party (Mascaro, 5/25).
The Washington Post: Senate Republicans Stand By Plan to Overhaul Medicare
Senate Republicans on Wednesday stood by a GOP plan to transform Medicare, one day after the party lost a conservative House district in Upstate New York amid a strong effort by Democrats to make that proposal the central issue. The measure was defeated in the Democratic-run Senate on Wednesday (Kane, Goldstein and Wallstein, 5/25).
The Wall Street Journal: No Retreat On Medicare
Republican lawmakers reaffirmed Wednesday their embrace of a controversial Medicare overhaul despite an electoral setback, ensuring the federal health program will remain a divisive issue through the 2012 election. Republicans responded to Democrat Kathy Hochul's Tuesday victory in a traditionally Republican New York Congressional district by saying they needed to attack the Democrats' Medicare position more forcefully, rather than back off their own plan (Bendavid and Hook, 5/26).
Politico: Is Any Medicare Reform Plan Political Suicide?
The New York special election raises a new question for lawmakers: Will any plan that tries to produce Medicare savings automatically become a potent political weapon? Republicans recaptured the House last year running on a platform that accused Democrats of slashing Medicare in their health reform law. Then Tuesday's win by Democrat Kathy Hochul in a solidly Republican district was seen as a strong rebuke of the GOP budget that changes the basic structure of Medicare (Millman, 5/26).
NPR: Medicare, Debt Ceiling Votes Put Lawmakers On Spot
Senate Democrats forced their GOP colleagues Wednesday to vote on a House Republican budget, getting most of those Republicans on record as backing that budget's unpopular plan to privatize Medicare. Next week in the GOP-run House, a similar show vote is planned, asking lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling - with no strings attached - a move that could put Democrats in a tight spot (Welna, 5/26).
The Washington Post: Defense, VA To Share Health Record System For Service Members And Vets
Members of a Senate committee expressed concern Wednesday that reforms taken by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have done little to cut the maze of bureaucracy experienced by many service members and veterans trying to navigate the military health-care system (Vogel, 5/25).
Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield CEO Bruce Bodaken Earned $4.6 Million Last Year
For the first time, California's largest nonprofit health insurer has released the salaries of its 10 highest-paid executives in response to a new state law intended to keep healthcare insurance costs under control (Helfand, 5/26).
The Associated Press: Rates Rise, Health Insurance Execs Bank Big Bucks
Top executives at health insurance companies banked large salaries in recent years while rates rose dramatically on individual policyholders in California, according to filings with the state insurance commissioner last month. In documents posted to the state's website, Blue Shield of California reported that its chief executive officer, Bruce Bokaden, was paid more than $4.6 million in 2010. The San Francisco-based insurer raised rates on some policyholders by about 38 percent over 2010 and 2011 (Mohajer, 5/25).
USA Today: State Lawmakers Work To Defund Planned Parenthood
Legislators in several states are trying to do what social conservatives in Congress failed to do last month: cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The effort in Congress to end the flow of federal dollars to the organization brought the federal government to the brink of a shutdown. Now state legislatures - last year's elections gave Republicans control of both chambers in 26 states - are taking aim at Planned Parenthood (Keen, 5/26).
The Wall Street Journal: Pawlenty Breaks With Ryan On Medicare
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who formally entered the presidential race this week, broke gingerly with House Republicans on Wednesday and said his plan to secure Medicare's finances will allow seniors to choose between the current fee-for-service program or other options (Weisman, 5/25).
The Washington Post: Gingrich Takes Few Questions, Avoids Press At NH Town Hall
In the lobby of Derry Medical Center here, the former speaker of the House vowed to repeal President Obama's health-care law and replace it with a state-based, free-market approach (Henderson, 5/25).
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