First Edition: October 26, 2011
Today's headlines include reports about the public's distrust of government, about the super committee's progress -- or lack thereof and the latest from the campaign trail.
Kaiser Health News: More Than 25% Of Medicare Drug Plans Get Poor Ratings
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "Nationally, federal officials have given negative assessments to more than a quarter of Medicare's rated prescription drug plans that will be available to seniors in 2012. And in the Washington metropolitan area, 36 percent score unacceptably low, according to an analysis of Medicare data" (Werber Serafini, 10/25).
Kaiser Health News: Between A Hygienist And A Dentist, A Hard Sell
Kansas Public Radio reporter Bryan Thompson filed this story as part of a reporting partnership that includes Kaiser Health News, Kansas Public Radio and NPR: "In Kansas and a few other states, advocates and some lawmakers want to solve this problem by creating a new level of dental care. A registered dental practitioner, or RDP, would have more training than a dental hygienist, but less than a dentist. Mid-level dental providers have been practicing in Alaska since 2005, and legislation has recently passed in Minnesota to establish the new level of care. Bills have been introduced in Ohio, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington" (Thompson, 10/25).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Groups Thank 'Obamacare,' And Not Sarcastically
Now on the blog, Andrew Villegas writes: "Usually Americans hear that phrase only in the most sarcastic contexts. Opponents of the health reform law have hung the 'Obamacare' moniker on it to belittle the measure as nothing more than an attempt to fix America's health care problems – varied as they are – with a one-size-fits-all approach they say expands the reach of government to never-before-seen levels. … But now, two nonprofit advocacy groups, ProgressNow Colorado Education and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, are trying to take back 'Obamacare,' painting it as a positive brand in a new campaign .. launched Monday" (10/25). Check out the blog.
The New York Times: New Poll Finds A Deep Distrust Of Government
With Election Day just over a year away, a deep sense of economic anxiety and doubt about the future hangs over the nation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, with Americans' distrust of government at its highest level ever. … Only about a quarter of the public said that lowering taxes on large corporations or repealing the entire national health care law was a good idea. But half of the public favors reducing or repealing regulations on businesses in the United States (Zeleny and Brenan, 10/25).
Politico: Leaders Intervene With Debt Panel
With time running out, House and Senate leaders are inserting themselves more into behind-the-scenes deficit talks, exchanging proposals and trying to help the so-called supercommittee avert the threat of a $1.2 trillion across-the board spending cut if no agreement is reached. The politics for both parties — and the leaders themselves —are very delicate (Rogers, 10/25).
Los Angeles Times: Congress Works To Avert Defense Budget Cuts
Super committee Democrats have concerns that the panel's work could be undermined by suggestions that defense is off the table, according to an aide familiar with the deliberations. With Republicans already refusing new taxes, that would force disproportionate cuts on health, education and federal programs for the poor (Mascaro, 10/25).
Los Angeles Times: Rick Perry Announces Economic Plan In Bid To Revive Campaign
Perry said he would balance the federal budget by 2020 by spurring economic growth, cutting discretionary federal spending by at least $100 billion a year, and overhauling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, three of the main drivers of future deficits. As an example of where he would cut, Perry said federal spending for elementary and secondary education could immediately be halved, saving $25 billion (West, 10/25).
The New York Times: Perry Calls His Flat Tax Proposal 'Bold Reform'
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas unveiled a plan on Tuesday to scrap the graduated income tax and replace it with a 20 percent flat rate. By throwing out rates as high as 35 percent and eliminating estate and investment taxes, the plan would grant a major tax cut for the wealthy. It is the centerpiece of an ambitious proposal that aims to overhaul political sacred cows like Social Security and Medicare while slashing the federal budget (Oppel, 10/25).
The Washington Post: Minor Tax Issue Takes Uphill Turn In Congress
The House will vote Thursday on whether to adjust an obscure tax provision that is widely expected to be a huge burden on government contractors and cost jobs should it take effect as scheduled in 2013. … For example, House Republicans on Thursday are expected to propose paying for the repeal by tightening Medicaid and Medicare eligibility and reducing federal health-care costs. The White House said Tuesday that it supports the idea, which could save as much as $13 billion over the next 10 years, but many congressional Democrats are opposed (Helderman, 10/25).
The New York Times: Venture Capitalists Put Money On Easing Medical Device Rules
As Congress considers reauthorizing a law that sets the fees for medical device makers, venture capitalists are emerging as a rich and influential ally of device companies eager to remove what they say are regulatory roadblocks in the approval process (Meier and Roberts, 10/25).
The Washington Post: Routine HPV Vaccination Recommended For Boys
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which helps set standards for childhood and other vaccinations, voted overwhelmingly to bring the recommendation for boys in line with that for girls. The vote was 13 in favor and none opposed, with one member abstaining (Stein, 10/25).
The New York Times: Panel Endorses HPV Vaccine For Boys Of 11
Boys and young men should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, to protect against anal and throat cancers that can result from sexual activity, a federal advisory committee said Tuesday (Harris, 10/25).
Los Angeles Times: Cancer's Most Isolated Patients
Physicians and researchers acknowledge that for decades, the needs of adolescents and young adults with cancer have been slighted. They frequently receive inconsistent treatment and follow-up care, and clinical trials and research focused on this age group have been scarce, according to oncologists and a report by the National Cancer Institute (Gorman, 10j/26).
The New York Times: Push For 'Personhood' Amendment Represents New Tack In Abortion Fight
A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder (Eckholm 10/25).
Politico: Judge Halts Fetus 'Heartbeat' Law
A federal judge blocked parts of a controversial North Carolina law that required abortion providers to provide an ultrasound image to pregnant women for viewing, describe the fetus’ features, and offer the opportunity to listen to its heartbeat, reports the AP (Mak, 10/26).
The Wall Street Journal: Insurer To Reveal Rate-Hike Data
New York's largest health insurer has agreed to publicly share the previously secret details of its requests for insurance-rate hikes, ending a standoff with state regulators. UnitedHealth would become the first insurance company operating in the state to voluntarily release proprietary details about why it wants a premium increase, under an agreement with the state Department of Financial Services announced Tuesday, officials said (Scism and Rappaport, 10/26).
Los Angeles Times: Ohio Law Limiting Public Employee Unions' Power Faces Repeal
On Nov. 8, Ohio voters will decide the fate of the law, which allows public employees to bargain for wages and working conditions but prohibits strikes. Workers will also have to pay for healthcare insurance and pensions. The law is on hold pending the referendum (Muskal, 10/25).
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