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Today’s Headlines – June 7

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including a report that some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are meeting to attempt to find ways to deal with an upcoming deadline — Jan. 1 — which is also known as the “fiscal cliff.”

Politico: Secret Talks Under Way About ‘Fiscal Cliff’
The uptick in back-channel talks reflects a growing recognition that the differences over the intractable tax, deficit and entitlement issues must be narrowed ahead of November if there’s any chance to meet a critical Jan. 1 deadline — the so-called fiscal cliff — when $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts take effect and Bush-era tax cuts expire on individual tax rates, capital gains and dividends. … Above all else, they say, these summer talks must be done secretly and never be made public for fear that any new proposals could get swept into the highly toxic partisan atmosphere ahead of a historic presidential election. The secret talks might allow Democrats to entertain deeper cuts to entitlements than they usually would, and Republicans could talk more candidly about increasing tax revenues (Raju, 6/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: June Cruel To Obama, Democrats, And It Could Get Worse With Health Care Ruling, Arizona Race
The political blows from Tuesday’s bitter loss in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall and from last week’s abysmal unemployment numbers, bad as they were, could multiply before the month is out. The Supreme Court will pass judgment shortly on the president’s signature legislative achievement — the 2010 law overhauling the nation’s health care system — and also will decide on his administration’s challenge to Arizona’s tough immigration law. If Chief Justice John Roberts and the court strike down all or part of the health care law, it could demoralize Democrats who invested more than a year — and quite a few political careers — to secure the bill’s passage (6/6).

For more headlines …

USA Today: Groups Benefit From Campaigns’ Focus On Women’s Issues
Debates this year over contraception, federal funding for abortion services and Tuesday’s Senate vote on equal pay for women have invigorated women’s groups on the right and the left to try to sway the female vote (Kucinich, 6/6).

The Washington Post: House Panel Reviews VA Pharmaceutical Contracting Reforms
Reforms put in place by the Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent the routine purchase of pharmaceuticals in violation of federal contracting laws have improved the VA procurement system but failed to eliminate improper practices, according to congressional testimony Wednesday (Vogel, 6/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Insurer United Health’s Board Approves More Than 30 Percent Increase In Quarterly Dividend
The largest U.S. health insurer authorized a quarterly payout of 21.25 cents per share on June 22 to shareholders of record as of June 15. That’s up from the previous dividend of 16.25 cents per share for the Minnetonka, Minn., company (6/6).

The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: AMA’s Incoming President Predicts No Chaos If Supreme Court Rejects All Or Part Of Health Law
The incoming president of the American Medical Association says not to expect chaos if the U.S. Supreme Court rejects all or part of the sweeping federal health care law. Dr. Jeremy Lazarus takes over as AMA president later this month. He says he’s not making any predictions on a high court decision, which also is expected this month (Tanner, 6/6).

The New York Times: New York Hospitals Look To Combine, Forming A Giant
Two of New York City’s biggest hospital systems reached agreement on Wednesday to pursue a merger that would shake up the way medical care is delivered, especially in Manhattan, where hospitals compete to serve some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world (Hartocollis, 6/6).

The New York Times’ City Room: At Belmont Clinic’s Doctor Gets Track Workers Back On Their Feet
As a general practitioner with a practice in Nassau County, Dr. Fredric Cogan was familiar with the usual flus, fevers and fractures his patients dealt with. But after taking over as the official doctor for backstretch workers at Belmont racetrack two years ago, he now specializes in a new list of ailments, like horse bites, rat bites and bedbug bites, not to mention the damage that can result from being hit by a thoroughbred swinging its head (Kilgannon, 6/6).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Idaho Doctor-Lawyer Granted Motion To Intervene In Lawsuit Over Abortion Laws
In a strategy legal experts say is unheard of, a southeastern Idaho lawyer who is also a physician will be allowed to intervene in a challenge to the state’s so-called fetal pain abortion law in a case that could set national precedent (6/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Aid For Supportive Housing Boosted
The state has committed $75 million of funding for the first year to creating more supportive housing, which is expected to be paid for, in part, by Medicaid savings under an initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Kusisto, 6/6).