First Edition: January 17, 2012
In today's headines, reports look forward to what's on tap as Congress returns to work as well as the the House GOP's emerging election-year strategy and President Obama's plans for the state-of-the-union address.
Kaiser Health News: New Group To Set Priorities For Medical Effectiveness Research
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Congress and the Obama administration are betting more than $3 billion over the next decade that 'comparative effectiveness' research can transform medical care by helping determine the best approach to a particular illness. On Wednesday, an independent, non-governmental board established by the health care law -- called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) -- will release national priorities for spending that money" (Appleby, 1/16).
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Peeking In On Your Doctor's Notes
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "If you saw that your doctor had written 'SOB' in the notes he took during your latest office visit, you might be offended and wonder what you'd done to give him such a negative impression. But 'SOB,' in physicians' shorthand, simply means 'shortness of breath'" (Andrews, 1/17).
Kaiser Health News: The High Cost Of A Good Night's Sleep
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold, working in collaboration with NPR, reports: "Snoring was once considered a simple annoyance for bed partners, but there is a growing awareness in the medical community that the grunts and snorts of noisy sleepers can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition shown to increase the risk of numerous serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and dementia. Critics, however, worry that overnight tests to diagnose apnea, particularly those done in sleep labs, may be overprescribed at great cost to the health care system" (Gold, 1/16).
The Washington Post: Obama Hopes To Strike Balance In State Of Union Address
The president has been using the refrain "Change is . . . " to catalogue a list of actions — including rescuing the auto industry, enacting health-care reform and ending the war in Iraq — he hopes will increase his reelection chances (Nakamura, 1/16).
The Washington Post: 84% Of Americans Disapprove Of The Job Congress Is Doing, Poll Finds
Lawmakers will return to Washington on Tuesday to begin an election-year work session with low expectations for any significant legislative action, while also receiving low approval ratings for themselves (Kane and Cohen, 1/16).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Republicans Map Election-Year Strategy In Wake Of Political Debacle Over Payroll Tax Cut
In the coming year, House Republicans remain doubtful about accomplishing anything more than the must-do spending bills and a year-long extension of the Social Security tax cuts, unemployment benefits and a reprieve in the cuts to doctors for Medicare payments. Congress faces a Feb. 29 deadline to agree on a new extension, no easy task after last year's deep divisions but politically inevitable as lawmakers would be loath to raise taxes in an election year (1/16).
Politico: Payroll Tax Cut Deal May Come Faster Than Expected
The one-year payroll tax deal that eluded Congress last month — and set off a nasty brawl that bloodied Republicans who opposed Democrats' short-term fix — could get wrapped up surprisingly quickly in the new session. … Congress must pass a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and Medicare payments for doctors before they expire at the end of February (Wong, 1/16).
The New York Times: Learning To Be Lean
As one of the many outgrowths of the sweeping federal health care law, health insurers and employers must now pay the cost of screening children for obesity and providing them with appropriate counseling (Abelson, 1/16).
The New York Times: U.S. To Force Drug Firms To Report Money Paid To Doctors
Many researchers have found evidence that such payments can influence doctors' treatment decisions and contribute to higher costs by encouraging the use of more expensive drugs and medical devices (Pear, 1/16).
The New York Times: Study Of Retail Workers Finds $9.50 Median Pay
Retail workers in New York City earn a median of $9.50 an hour, most are part-time or temporary, and just 3 in 10 receive health insurance through their jobs, according to a new study of the city's larger retailers (Greenhouse, 1/16).
Politico: Scott Walker's Health Care Dilemma
It's a political game of chicken Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hopes he can win. Walker – a tea party favorite who has changed his state's bright blue health policy trajectory — is the lone Republican governor keeping an Early Innovator grant awarded early last year under the health reform law. He isn't using the $37 million federal grant. He isn’t giving it up. And it may stay that way (Nocera and Millman, 1/16).
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