Today’s Headlines – January 13, 2012

Happy Friday! Here are your headlines:

NPR: Biggest Bucks In Health Care Are Spent On A Very Few
Researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality looked at the way people actually spend money on health care. They found that half the population spends practically nothing on health care in any given year, while a very few unlucky people account for the lion’s share (Rovner, 1/12).

The New York Times: U.S. Seeks Rollback Of A Health Insurer’s ‘Excessive’ Rate Increase
The Obama administration said Thursday that rate increases sought by a health insurance company were unreasonable, and it ordered the insurer to rescind them or justify its refusal to do so (Pear, 1/12).

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The Wall Street Journal: Government Edges Toward The Debt Ceiling
The White House notified Congress on Thursday that the government was near its $15.194 trillion borrowing limit, ushering in the debut of procedural theater in which the debt limit will ultimately be raised even if Congress votes against it (Paletta, 1/13).

The Hill’s Healthwatch: Study: Premiums Could Rise 25 Percent Without Insurance Mandate
Insurance premiums would rise by as much as 25 percent if the healthcare law is implemented without an individual mandate, according to a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. … Without the mandate, according to the Robert Wood Johnson analysis, costs would rise and fewer people would be insured (Baker, 1/12).

Politico: Ahead Of South Carolina Primary: Mitt Romney Picks Up Pro-Life Rhetoric
Mitt Romney’s beginning to stress his opposition to abortion rights — the latest offensive-defense tactic from a candidate who’s already under fire for his stance on the issue in South Carolina. At both voter rallies he held there, home of the next primary, Romney added language to his stump speech reminding voters he is pro-life. And the candidate, who’s hoping this socially conservative state where he’s hoping to score a third consecutive early state win on Jan. 21, says that’s no mistake (Epstein and Summers, 1/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: IMS Health: Branded Lipitor Sales Leveling Off After Arrival Of 1st Generic Competition
Sales of Lipitor, the top-selling drug in history, have leveled off after a steep plunge following the start of U.S. generic competition. New figures from data firm IMS Health show that at the end of December, sales of Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor were at just above a 37 percent market share (1/12).

The New York Times: CVS Settles Prescription Price Case
After more than two years of investigation, CVS Caremark agreed on Thursday to pay $5 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that the company had misrepresented the price of certain prescription drugs in one of its Medicare drug plans, causing many older consumers to pay significantly higher prices than advertised (Abelson and Singer, 1/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: CVS Caremark To Pay $5 Million To End FTC Investigation Into Inaccurate Drug Price Reports
The payment will be used to reimburse Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries who paid more than they expected for the drugs, and it ends a two-year investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. CVS Caremark said its Rx America business accidentally published incorrect drug price information on a site maintained by Medicare (1/12).