First Edition: May 18, 2011
Today's news highlights include reports about the latest developments regarding the budget talks and the Senate's "Gang of Six," the continuing political hijinx surrounding Medicare issues, and the Obama administration's plan to offer a new path for accountable care organizations.
Kaiser Health News: Administration Offers New Path For ACOs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "Facing strong criticism of the proposed regulation for accountable care organizations, the Obama administration announced new options Tuesday to lure hesitant doctors and hospitals" (Gold, 5/17).
The Washington Post: Administration Offers Early Start For New Medicare Arrangement
The Obama administration is trying to hasten the spread of new arrangements to coordinate and pay for the health care of older Americans, even as major groups of hospitals and doctors are skeptical of the government's plans (Goldstein, 5/17).
NPR: In Medicare Debate, Both Sides Claim An Edge
One thing Republicans and Democrats have learned in recent years is how to use Medicare to attack the other party. Republicans say Democrats will ruin the program by letting it go bankrupt, while Democrats say the GOP wants to abolish the program altogether (5/18).
The New York Times: Senate Group On Debt Loses A Key Republican
The already weak prospects for a bipartisan debt-reduction deal this year dimmed further on Tuesday when a Republican member of the Senate's "Gang of Six," Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, withdrew after months of private negotiations amid differences over changes to Medicare (Calmes, 5/17).
Los Angeles Times: GOP Senator Drops Out Of Deficit Negotiations
A top Republican senator dropped out of the "Gang of Six" deficit reduction talks Tuesday, a blow to the nearly five-month effort to broker a bipartisan deal that now shifts attention to other fronts. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said talks had hit an impasse. The group had met for several hours late Monday, but Coburn ran into resistance when he proposed making cuts to Medicare that were considered unacceptable, said sources close to the talks (Mascaro, 5/18).
The Wall Street Journal: Budget Talks By 'Gang' Falter
The bipartisan talks, which had been underway about six months, hit an impasse about two weeks ago, participants said. Mr. Coburn would not say what prompted him to leave, but a person familiar with the talks said the immediate issue was Medicare cuts. The group, unofficially dubbed the "Gang of Six," had a heated meeting Monday night during which Mr. Coburn proposed additional Medicare cuts, the person said (Bendavid and Yadron, 5/18).
The Washington Post: 'Gang Of Six' On Verge Of Collapse As Republican Sen. Coburn Withdraws
By Tuesday evening, however, the "Gang of Six" was on the verge of collapse. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) withdrew from the bipartisan working group, saying the senators simply could not overcome the polarizing political pressure that each faces. The group's two other Republicans said it would be hard to continue without Coburn (Rucker and Montgomery, 5/17).
The Associated Press: Gingrich Apologizes To Ryan For Medicare Comments
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has apologized to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for criticizing his proposal to overhaul Medicare. Spokesmen for Gingrich and Ryan said the former House speaker called Ryan on Tuesday and offered an apology (5/17).
Los Angeles Times: New Gingrich Still On Defensive After Critique Of GOP's Medicare Plan
Newt Gingrich's presidential candidacy is only days old, and more than a decade after he last campaigned for public office, he's clearly shaking off some rust. On Tuesday, the former House speaker stepped up outreach to conservatives in an attempt to backtrack from comments he made Sunday calling Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposed changes to Medicare "right-wing social engineering," as Democrats sought to use his remarks to attack the GOP (Memoli and Oliphant, 5/17).
Politico: Newt Gingrich Apologizes To Paul Ryan
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apologized in a telephone call to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday afternoon for his remarks on "Meet the Press," where the presidential candidate referred to Ryan's Medicare proposal as "radical change" (Allen, 5/17).
The Associated Press: Spin Meter: On Health Care, It's Newt Vs. Newt
An official presidential candidate for less than a week, Newt Gingrich already finds himself in hot water with conservatives for suggesting he supports health care mandates while at the same time deriding a Republican budget proposal that would replace Medicare with vouchers. The former House speaker has moved quickly to backtrack, arguing he remains "committed to the complete repeal of Obamacare" and supports state lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's signature health care law (McCaffrey, 5/18).
Los Angeles Times: Anti-Union Law Puts Milwaukee Teachers Union In Spotlight
Last year, Milwaukee's struggling public school system fired the woman named Wisconsin's outstanding first-year teacher because of union rules that protect senior teachers and require newer ones to be laid off first. As it cuts 560 more teaching jobs this year, the district faces a bill more than double its entire $1-billion budget to pay for retired teachers' health benefits, a deal that one former school board member described as "the most opulent healthcare package in the world, including Sweden" (Riccardi, 5/18).
The New York Times: Fewer Emergency Rooms Available As Need Rises
Hospital emergency rooms, particularly those serving the urban poor, are closing at an alarming rate even as emergency visits are rising, according to a report published on Tuesday (Rabin, 5/17).
Chicago Tribune: Patients' Right To Know Act Passes Assembly
Patients would have access to detailed histories of Illinois doctors - including whether the physician has been fired, convicted of a crime or made a medical malpractice payment in the past five years - under legislation headed to the governor's desk (Twohey, 5/17).
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