KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 11, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about the scheduled House vote on repealing the health law as well as how stakeholders -- whether it be certain governors or wall street investors -- are responding to the Supreme Court's decision on the Medicaid expansion.  

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Court Ruling Triggers Tax Debate On Capitol Hill
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks to Jackie Judd about Tuesday's House Ways and Means Committee session on the individual mandate and congressional taxing authority. They also preview Wednesday’s House vote to repeal the health law. Listen to the audio or read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Report: Nation Isn't Ready For Seniors' Mental Health Needs
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Christian Torres reports: "A continued lack of specialists and other trained providers including primary care physicians and nurses will likely make it difficult for aging patients to receive treatment for depression, dementia and other conditions" (Torres, 7/10). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Republicans Focus On Repealing, Not Replacing, 'Obamacare'
And as the House prepares to take its 33rd vote to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act, senior Republicans say they will not try to move a replacement plan until 2013 at the earliest. "There might be a chance for us to do this next year," House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-San Dimas) said Tuesday (Levey, 7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Casts Repeal Of Obama's Health Care Law As A Chance To Stop A Tax
House Republicans, stung by the Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, are seizing on one wrinkle to bolster their election-year case for repeal — the court's judgment that the penalty for failing to get insurance is a tax (7/11).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: New Name, Old Campaign As Republicans Wage War On 'Obamacare'
On Tuesday they began debate on the 31st, the "Repeal of the Obamacare Act," which is certain to win passage when the House votes on Wednesday and just as certain to go no further, since the Senate and White House are both in Democratic hands. It will be the second time the House has voted an outright repeal of the Obama administration's healthcare law. The first came just after Republicans won control of the chamber in the 2010 election. The main change between then and now was the Supreme Court's ruling on June 28 upholding the law as a valid exercise of Congress' taxing power (Ferraro and Smith, 7/10).

The Wall Street Journal: House Set To Vote On Health-Law Repeal
The House is expected to vote Wednesday to repeal President Barack Obama's health-care law, as Republicans continue their furious response to the Supreme Court decision to uphold the law. … GOP leaders want to reaffirm their opposition to it in advance of November's elections. The arguments on the House floor Tuesday ahead of the vote weren't new, but the urgency was greater (Bendavid and Radnofsky, 7/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Feds To Waive Insurance Mandate For Low-Income People In States That Don't Expand Medicaid
In a letter to governors Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said low-income residents in those states who would have been eligible for the coverage will not face the individual insurance mandate (7/10).

NPR: Will Medicaid Bring The Uninsured Out Of The Woodwork?
Ever since the Supreme Court decided last month that an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act should be optional, quite a few Republican governors have been vowing to take a pass (Rovner, 7/11).

Politico: Southern Governors Secede From Medicaid
House Republicans are lining up to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, but GOP governors in the South have a real plan to gut the law. Govs. Rick Perry in Texas and Rick Scott in Florida have both said they won't expand Medicaid to more of the working poor in their states — rejecting a central part of the law designed to cover 15 million more Americans (Allen and Smith, 7/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Governors Doubt Feds Can Deliver Health Care To Uninsured On Schedule
In a letter Tuesday to Obama, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said GOP governors think it's unlikely the federal government will meet deadlines for new health insurance markets in each state by 2014. If that's the case, the governors said Obama should acknowledge it now (7/10).

The Washington Post: McDonnell Considers Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter to legislators Tuesday saying that he is considering whether Virginia should opt out of the federal health law's Medicaid expansion, but needs more information (Kumar, 7/10).

Politico: Experts On Medicaid: Go Slow
Three former administrators of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services who served Republican presidents have a bit of advice for Democrats trying to get conservative governors to go ahead with Medicaid expansion: Be flexible. Don’t make it a political litmus test. And try not to pour fuel on what's already a hot-burning fire. The unexpected Medicaid ruling by the Supreme Court left the states with unexpected options and dozens of questions — and the three former CMS chiefs doubt they will be answered quickly, maybe not until after the elections (Norman, 7/10).

Politico: Medicaid Expansion Could Pay Off For Investors
For all the Republican governors saying they’ll block President Barack Obama's plan to expand Medicaid in their states — now at least five — the market seems to think they're bluffing. There are clear signs that Wall Street is anticipating a spike in Medicaid spending that would come from the expansion (Reis, 7/10).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Tax Businesses See Profits In Healthcare Law
While some see the new healthcare law as a source of controversy, tax preparation companies see it as an opportunity, hoping it will bring in millions of new and confused customers (Temple-West, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: Buying Health Insurance Is A 'Moral Duty,' Bioethicists Say
In the debate over the legitimacy of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known by many as "Obamacare," the question that keeps coming up is this: If the government can force you to buy health insurance because it's good for society as a whole, what's to stop lawmakers from requiring you to eat broccoli and join a gym? But that's not the right way to look at it, according to a Viewpoint essay to be published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn (Kaplan, 7/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Report: Contractors Hired To Weed Out Medicare Fraud Have Connections To Cos. They Investigate
Firms that are paid tens of millions of dollars to root out Medicare fraud are bidding on contracts to investigate companies they are doing business with — sometimes their own parent companies, according to a government report released Tuesday (7/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Aging Boomers To Face Hard Time Finding Mental Health Care; Report Urges Geriatric Training
Getting older doesn't just mean a risk for physical ailments like heart disease and bum knees: A new report finds as many as 1 in 5 seniors has a mental health or substance abuse problem (7/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: White House Says 8,000 Seasonal Firefighters Win Right To Buy Federal Health Insurance
President Barack Obama will make federal health insurance available to about 8,000 temporary wildland firefighters, a White House official said Tuesday. Despite the grueling and dangerous work they do, the 8,000 firefighters aren’t covered by federal health insurance because they are temporary seasonal employees. Under federal personnel rules, such employees can’t buy into federal health insurance plans (7/11).

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