Today’s Headlines – May 14, 2012

Good morning and welcome to Monday:

The Washington Post: Ryan Budget Still An Issue In Congressional Races
The issue in question is the budget proposal issued by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and what it does to Medicare in particular. More than a year after the proposal’s initial release, Republican candidates continue to find themselves on the defensive about what the plan will actually do, and Democrats continue to make claims about the dire consequences if it were to become law (O’Keefe, 5/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Must Credit Rebates To Health Law
Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday. The move is the latest sign the Obama administration is trying to draw attention to the law’s benefits before the fall elections, even though the law faces an uncertain future. The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether its central plank—a mandate that everyone carry insurance—violates the Constitution. Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, has pledged to wipe out the law if elected (Radnofsky, 5/11).

For more headlines …

The Washington Post: Republican State Officials Stall On Setting Up Health Insurance Marketplaces
In about two dozen states across the country, the insurance marketplaces at the heart of the 2010 health-care law remain in limbo, with Republican governors or lawmakers who oppose the statute refusing to act until the Supreme Court decides its constitutionality (Aizenman, 5/12).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Case Capped A Rough Year For Solicitor General
His worst moment came as he rose to defend President Obama’s healthcare law and its requirement that all Americans have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. His voice sounding weak, Verrilli paused after his second sentence and coughed (Savage, 5/12).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Towers Watson & Co To Buy Largest Private Medicare Exchange
Towers Watson & Co , a New York-headquartered professional services company, said on Sunday it would buy Extend Health Inc, operator of the largest private Medicare exchange in the United States, to boost its health benefits offering for employers (Roumeliotis, 5/13).

The Washington Post: Nurse Practitioners Look To Fill Gap With Expected Spike In Demand For Health Services
President Obama’s health-care law is expected to expand health insurance to 32 million Americans over the next decade. Health policy experts anticipate that the wave of new insurance subscribers will lead to a spike in demand for medical services (Kliff, 5/13).

Los Angeles Times: Hospital Ratings, Track Records Available Online
Using data from government agencies and private watchdogs, several websites provide consumer information on hospitals (Wilson, 5/13).

NPR: Alzheimer’s Patients Turn To Stories Instead Of Memories
Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of communication — it’s how we learn about the world. It turns out that for people with dementia, storytelling can be therapeutic. It gives people who don’t communicate well a chance to communicate. And you don’t need any training to run a session (Silberner, 5/14).

NPR: Doctors’ Due Diligence: Measuring Kids’ Blood Pressure
There have been hints that the obesity epidemic’s rise has slowed a bit among certain populations, but for the most part, it continues to dominate American health. One third of children and teenagers are now overweight or obese. And researchers forecast as many as half of our nation’s population could be obese — not overweight but obese — by 2030 (Neighmond, 5/14).

Los Angeles Times: Global Push To Guarantee Health Coverage Leaves U.S. Behind
Even as Americans debate whether to scrap President Obama’s healthcare law and its promise of guaranteed health coverage, many far less affluent nations are moving in the opposite direction — to provide medical insurance to all citizens. China, after years of underfunding healthcare, is on track to complete a three-year, $124-billion initiative projected to cover more than 90% of the nation’s residents (Levey, 5/12).

The Washington Post: As Maryland Goes Full Steam Ahead On Health Reform Law, Virginia Takes Pragmatic Path
Maryland and Virginia were both out front — in very different ways — when the health-care overhaul became law in March 2010. The two states continue to approach the law in their distinct fashions in advance of its full implementation in January 2014 and in the face of doubts about whether it will survive Supreme Court review. But Maryland and Virginia are no longer at opposite ends of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act spectrum (Vozzella, 5/12).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Jobs Fuel Revival In Pittsburgh
While most of the nation is still trying to claw its way out of the deep economic crater left by the recession, this onetime steel capital is already out — thanks largely to the relentless growth in healthcare jobs (Lee, 5/13).