Today’s Headlines – August 10, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about the health law’s tax provisions and insurance rebates:

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Care Law’s Big Tax Hikes Hit The Wealthiest 2 Percent – Others Also Caught In The Net
Who gets thumped by higher taxes in President Barack Obama’s health care law? The wealthiest 2 percent of Americans will take the biggest hit, starting next year. And the pain will be shared by some who aren’t so well off — people swept up in a hodgepodge of smaller tax changes that will help finance health coverage for millions in need (8/9).

The New York Times: Health Insurer Refunds May Stall In Employers’ Hands
It was the great health insurance giveback: $1.1 billion in premiums returned to policyholders under the Affordable Care Act. But while many people who buy their own insurance found a check in the mail last week, millions insured through employers are still wondering what is happening with the money (Bernstein, 8/9).

For more headlines …

The Washington Post: Medicare Overspending On Anemia Drug
The U.S. health-care system is vastly overspending for a single anemia drug because Medicare overestimates its use by hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to an analysis of federal data. The overpayment to hospitals and clinics arises because Medicare reimburses them based on estimates rather than the actual use of the drug (Whoriskey, 8/9).

The Wall Street Journal: It May Be Time To See A Doctor
Years of economic drag have had some profound effects on Americans. One big one: They stopped going to the doctor as much as they used to. Now people may be starting to head back for checkups and other medical procedures. Any shift has important implications for the health-care sector and the broader economy, since the drought has helped restrain spending growth (Mathews and Kamp, 8/9).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals’ Debt Gets A Checkup
Hospitals are doling out a dose of bitter medicine in the form of riskier bonds. Investors hungry for higher yields in an environment of near-zero interest rates are clamoring for the municipal bonds issued by hospitals and other health-care facilities. Borrowers are capitalizing on this rising demand by dispensing with standard investor protections on their bonds (Nolan, 8/9).

The New York Times: Romney Faces Pressure From Right To Put Ryan On Ticket
In rallying around Mr. Ryan, a champion of cutting government spending and reining in the costs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid, conservatives are calling for Mr. Romney to select someone who can push their fiscal agenda, but they also are setting the stage for a possible letdown on the right if Mr. Romney chooses someone else in his race against President Obama. A strongly worded Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday urged Mr. Romney to pick Mr. Ryan, saying he “best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election” (Shear and Gabriel, 8/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: AdWatch: Latest Romney TV Ad Accuses Obama Of Using Health Care Law To ‘Declare War’ On Religion
This latest ad by Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee is the former Massachusetts’ governor’s most direct bid yet for religious voters. Obama’s health care overhaul split religious groups, with Catholic bishops and conservative Protestants strongly opposed to provisions that permitted women to buy insurance coverage for abortion, provided they used their own money. But liberal Protestant denominations supported the law, as did many religious orders of Catholic nuns, and the trade group representing Catholic hospitals (8/9).

Politico: Obama Camp Acknowledges Knowing Man’s Story
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged Thursday that the campaign was no longer pleading ignorance about the story of a man who has appeared in both a super PAC ad and a campaign ad. … Missouri steelworker Joe Soptic starred in an Obama campaign ad and participated in a conference call with the campaign in May, as POLITICO reported Wednesday. He resurfaced this week in a Priorities USA Action super PAC ad, charging that his wife died of cancer after Mitt Romney’s former private equity firm laid him off (Tau, 8/9).

Los Angeles Times: High Anxiety: Half Of Baby Boomers Doubt They Will Ever Retire
Worries about health care, inflation, taxes, nest eggs and more have boomers scoring a 70% on AARP’s anxiety index, compared to 59% of younger voters and 46% of people ages 65 or older (Hsu, 8/9).

The New York Times: Post Office Troubles Mount With $5.2 Billion Quarterly Loss
The Postal Service attributed the net loss mostly to a 2006 law requiring that the agency prefund future retirees’ health benefits, amounting to a $5 billion payment each year for 10 years. The agency defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment due at the beginning of this month that was deferred from last year. It is also expected to default on another $5.6 billion payment that is due in September. While the agency failed to make the August payment and does not expect to make the payment next month, it said it still accounted for a portion of the cost in the quarter. It also accounted for a $1.4 billion workers’ compensation payment to the Labor Department that is due in October (Nixon, 8/9).