Today’s Headlines – Oct. 13, 2011

Good morning! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including a report about how Mitt Romney’s health law waiver plan would work — states could skirt some of the measure’s biggest requirements, but it’s still not a complete repeal.

Politico: How Romney’s Waivers Would Work
Gov. Mitt Romney says he has a plan that would allow states to skirt some of the biggest pieces of the health care reform law — a proposal that could punch gaping holes in the federal law his critics say he inspired. But it’s far from a complete repeal. Instead, Romney would use the law’s “state innovation waivers” to allow the states to opt out of some of the most fundamental pieces of the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate, the health insurance exchanges and the requirements for some employers to provide coverage or face fines, a Romney aide tells POLITICO (Haberkorn, 10/12).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Campaign Steps Up Attacks On Mitt Romney
Up until now, the preferred tactic of Team Obama has been to damn Romney with faint praise, repeatedly citing his efforts as governor on health reform as a model for the plan Obama ultimately championed. But on a conference call with reporters, top Obama strategist David Axelrod signaled a more direct approach, arguing that Romney’s stated concern for the middle class is not credible (Memoli, 10/12).

For more headlines …

The Associated Press/Washington Post: As GOP Insiders Rally To Romney, Perry Readies TV Ads To Slow The Nomination Front-Runner
Perry’s advisers say there’s plenty of time to overtake Romney in key states. They are frustrated by bad reviews of the Texan’s debate performances, including Tuesday’s in New Hampshire. They say it’s Romney who is ripe for sharp criticism of his revised positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control, all now markedly more conservative than in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the debates so far, Perry has generally fallen flat when hitting Romney’s “flip-flops” and the health care initiative that required Massachusetts residents to obtain medical insurance. Perry’s advisers say aggressive TV ads will do a far more powerful job (10/12).

The New York Times: Prescriptions: Bonuses Tied To Medicare’s Star System Reward Insurers
For the first time, a government-backed quality rating will have a financial meaning to health insurance companies looking to attract millions of older Americans to privately run Medicare coverage next year. Medicare Advantage Plans are expected to use quality ratings unveiled Wednesday to attract more business and promote their ratings, given that the federal government is dangling a carrot in the form of bonus payments ranging from 3 to 5 percentage points (Japsen, 10/12).

Politico: House Takes Up Abortion As 2012 Field Steers Clear
The Republican-controlled House is about to wade back into the controversial issue of abortion  Thursday, even as the party’s presidential candidates largely avoid the issue. The relative silence of the Republican candidates is mostly a sign that they’re all committed to anti-abortion positions, not that they don’t care about the issue, anti-abortion groups say (Haberkorn, 10/12).

The Washington Post: Hospitals, Health Groups Use Purchasing Power To Push For Greener Medical Products
Hospitals and health systems are organizing the industry’s vast purchasing power to push manufacturers of medical products to make them with safer chemicals and to be more environmentally friendly (Sun, 10/12).

The New York Times: Cuomo Says He Will Reform Agencies Serving Disabled
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, saying he was startled by problems with the handling of abuse and neglect allegations at state facilities, on Wednesday vowed reforms at six agencies that provide residential care for the disabled, the elderly, children and the mentally ill (Hakim, 10/13).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Report: Enrollment Of Ineligible Recipients Costs Va. Medicaid Program Millions Of Dollars
A new report says ineligible Medicaid recipients are costing Virginia millions of dollars. The report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission says ineligible enrollments account for the greatest number of improper payments in Virginia’s share of the Medicaid program (10/12).