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Today’s Headlines – Jan. 9, 2013

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including a number of health policy developments on the state level.

Politico: Berwick Eyeing Run For Massachusetts Governor Former Obama administration Medicare chief Don Berwick — vilified by Senate Republicans who made his confirmation impossible — is considering a run for Massachusetts governor in 2014, he told POLITICO late Tuesday (Kenen, 1/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Whistleblowers At Center Of States’ Medicaid Fraud Action Whistleblowers are becoming an increasingly important source of settlements from Medicaid fraud prosecutions as states try to raise revenue and eliminate waste and abuse (DePietro, 1/7).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: California Regulator Scolds Anthem, Praises UnitedHealth On Rates California’s insurance commissioner scolded Anthem Blue Cross for raising rates for small businesses while praising industry rival UnitedHealth Group Inc. for cutting worker premiums (Terhune, 1/8).

Politico Pro: Mass. May Shift Health Coverage Penalties In a step toward bringing Massachusetts in compliance with the federal health law, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Tuesday proposed legislation that would ease some of his own state’s coverage requirements for small business. The landmark Massachusetts reform law, signed by Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, requires all businesses with 11 or more workers to offer a certain portion of their workers coverage or else face a “Fair Share” penalty of $295 per worker. But the federal Affordable Care Act has coverage requirements for businesses with 50 or more employees. That led to concerns among small businesses in Massachusetts about double-penalties and burdensome regulation (Cheney, 1/8).

The New York Times: Maine: Medicaid Purge Is Rejected The Obama administration rejected Gov. Paul R. LePage’s request to drop thousands of people from Medicaid rolls. Mr. LePage, a Republican, had sought to eliminate Medicaid coverage for nearly 15,000 parents with incomes between the federal poverty level ($23,050 for a family of four last year) and 133 percent of that level ($30,657 for a family of four). He also wanted to end coverage for more than 6,000 19- and 20-year-olds (Goodnough, 1/8).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Federal Officials Deny Maine’s Medicaid Cuts Several states had suggested that the Supreme Court’s opinion last summer to nix penalties in the health law for states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs could have also lifted the law’s ban on cuts to their existing programs. The Obama administration told Mr. LePage’s health and human services commissioner, Mary Mayhew, that it doesn’t believe that’s the case (Radnofsky, 1/8).

Politico Pro: Administration Says Maine Can Make Some Medicaid Cuts The Obama administration has told Maine that it could make some Medicaid cuts, but not as deeply as the state requested — and it’s unclear whether Gov. Paul LePage will keep fighting the feds on his preferred cuts. … CMS allowed Maine to reduce income eligibility levels for certain groups, but the agency cited MOE in its rejection of proposed cuts to parents and 19- and 20-year-olds. Maine’s next steps are uncertain, and a LePage spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment (Millman, 1/8).

The New York Times: Cuomo Seeks An Overhaul In Gun Control Mr. Cuomo is also seeking a new law to address the role mental health can play in gun crimes. The talks on these issues were still fluid Tuesday evening, but Mr. Cuomo had considered requiring mental-health screening and more rigorous background-check requirements for gun owners, people familiar with the matter said (Nahmias, 1/8).

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