First Edition: October 23, 2012
Today's headlines include various reports from the campaign trail as well as the latest news about current meningitis outbreak.
Kaiser Health News: Nursing Home Patients Returning To The Community
Jenni Bergal, reporting for Kaiser Health News in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "After nearly two years in a Baltimore nursing home, Sonia Savage was eager to leave. She was in her late 20s, surrounded by older people and feeling 'it wasn't a place for me.' … Savage is one of 1,336 disabled or elderly low-income Marylanders who as of early July had moved out of nursing homes and other institutional settings as part of a national program called Money Follows the Person. The goal is to return them to the community" (Bergal, 10/22). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Wis. Senate Candidates Spar Over Health Issues
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Richard E. Cohen writes: "The hard-fought campaign for an open Senate seat in Wisconsin—a centrist state that recently has become politically torn—has delved deeply into the politics of health policy and Medicare" (Cohen, 10/22). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Insurers Are Again Selling Child-Only Health Policies After Interventions From States, Study Finds
In her latest consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "One of the first provisions of the Affordable Care Act to take effect prohibited insurers from turning down children younger than 19 on the grounds that they had a preexisting medical condition. The provision was supposed to make coverage more accessible to vulnerable kids whose families were trying to buy coverage on the individual market. Instead, it had the opposite effect: Insurers in many states stopped selling child-only policies" (Andrews, 10/22). Read the column.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Updated: FDA Temporarily Removes List Of Hospitals, Providers That Received Products From Mass. Compounder
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Julie Appleby reports: "Just hours after posting it Monday, the Food and Drug Administration removed from its website a list of hospitals and doctors that had received products from the compounding pharmacy now at the center of the fungal meningitis outbreak, saying data may be incorrect. The agency said it is working to correct the list and will repost once it is completed. ... The original list included more than 1,000 hospitals, clinics and doctors nationwide, including some well-known facilities such as Brigham & Women's, Beth Israel, the Mayo Clinic Health System, Children's Hospital Boston and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute" (Appleby, 10/22). Check out what else is on the blog.
The New York Times: Check Point: Looking Closely At Statements From Candidates On Foreign Policy
Who knew that fact-checking the sole foreign policy debate of the presidential campaign would include the ranking of Massachusetts schools and how best to administer Medicaid? Repeatedly, the two candidates swerved to the economic issues that have dominated the campaign (Shane, Cooper, Gordon, Oppel and LaFraniere, 10/23).
Los Angeles Times: Obama, Romney Aim For Swing Vote In Final Debate In Florida
Republicans remain worried that Obama's extensive get-out-the-vote operation could carry him, and Democrats are concerned that heightened enthusiasm for Romney could give him an edge. As many as 1 in 10 Florida voters may be up for grabs, and Fernando Valladrez is among them. … Valladrez voted for Obama in 2008 but says he agrees with Romney on social issues, such as abortion and whether Catholic hospitals should pay for employee insurance coverage for contraceptives, though he doesn't like Romney's position on immigration (West and Semuels, 10/22).
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Says Scheduled Cuts 'Will Not Happen'
President Barack Obama said Monday that scheduled cuts to spending on the military and other government programs "will not happen," marking perhaps his most definitive comments on the subject. … The scheduled spending cuts are the result of a 2011 deal Mr. Obama reached with Congress to raise the government's borrowing limit. The agreement stipulated that roughly $1.2 trillion in budget cuts would start taking effect in January 2013 unless a congressional "supercommittee" agreed to a deficit-reduction plan of the same size. The cuts were designed to be so objectionable that it would force the committee to reach an agreement. But the committee failed, so the cuts are set to take place next year (Paletta, 10/22).
Los Angeles Times: After 40 Years, California's Rep. Pete Stark Faces Tough Battle
Stark first gained national attention as the "hippie banker" who, during the Vietnam War, put a peace symbol on the headquarters of the bank he founded in the East Bay. He was an architect of landmark legislation that allowed workers to extend health coverage for a time after leaving their jobs and required emergency rooms to screen and stabilize anyone who showed up at their doors, regardless of their ability to pay. He also played an important role in developing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, President Obama's healthcare law (Simon, 10/23).
The Washington Post: In Pennsylvania, Sen. Robert Casey Gets Unexpected Republican Challenge
Casey finally began running an ad that links Smith to the Senate conservatives who would overhaul Medicare and Social Security, a key issue for a state that has one of the nation's oldest populations. "This isn't just a one-liner. They are deadly serious," Casey warned supporters. The aim is to define Smith as a fringe member of the tea party movement (Kane, 10/22).
Politico: Issa Subpoenas Documents On Medicare Demo
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed the Obama administration Monday for documents he believes will expose Medicare malfeasance by Department of Health and Human Services officials. The move, confirmed by an aide to the California Republican, makes good on a threat Issa issued last week, when he demanded reams of data from HHS by 5 p.m. on Thursday. Although the agency dumped 1,300 pages at his doorstep just before the deadline, he contended that the information was garbled and unresponsive to his request (Cheney, 10/22).
USA Today: Healthgrades: Which States Have The Safest Hospitals
Arizona, California, Illinois and Ohio scored the best marks for hospital care in a new report that says quality varies "significantly" from state to state in key health areas linked to mortality rates (Lloyd, 10/23).
The New York Times: Settlement Eases Rules For Some Medicare Patients
Tens of thousands of people with chronic conditions and disabilities may find it easier to qualify for Medicare coverage of potentially costly home health care, skilled nursing home stays and outpatient therapy under policy changes planned by the Obama administration (Pear, 10/22).
The New York Times: U.S. Concern Over Compounders Predates Outbreak Of Meningitis
A year before people began dying of meningitis caused by a tainted drug from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, the Food and Drug Administration worried that compounders across the country might be selling another substandard drug, one possibly made with unapproved Chinese ingredients (Bogdanich and Tavernise, 10/22).
The New York Times: Documents In Meningitis Case Show Complaints In 1999
The Massachusetts Department of Health released hundreds of pages of documents on Monday detailing a history of violations at the New England Compounding Center, whose tainted medicine has caused a nationwide meningitis outbreak. The documents include dozens of complaints from as early as April 1999, less than a year after the company began as a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Mass (Tavernise and Pollack, 10/22).
The New York Times: 2 Women In Queens And Many Others Find A Sick Day Could Mean They're Fired
There is now a Dickensian feel to New York City. You walk below the El on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona and find so many hard-fought-for laws — against overcrowded tenements, and wage violations and sanitary conditions — winked at. In this Upstairs, Downstairs city, those at the bottom of the pile learn the virtues of silence. Of late, however, a coalition of community groups has taken up the cudgel in support of paid sick days. This is a luxury denied to 700,000 to 1.2 million New Yorkers (Powell, 10/22).
The Washington Post: Health Plan Takeover In D.C. Eases Concerns But Doesn't Erase Them
The District government's takeover of its largest health contractor has eased concerns among care providers, but anxieties remain about the effects on the city's half-billion-dollar system of providing health care to the needy (DeBonis, 10/22).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Wis. Judge Rejects Request To Reinstate Union Bargaining Rights Law While Appeal Is Pending
A Wisconsin judge refused Monday to put on hold his earlier decision repealing major parts of Gov. Scott Walker’s law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers. … The ruling last month overturned the law as it pertained to school and local government workers. The law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 applied to all public employees except police, firefighters, local transit workers and emergency medical service employees. It limits collective bargaining on wage increases to the rate of inflation. Other issues, such as workplace safety, vacation and health benefits, were excluded from collective bargaining (10/22).
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