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Today’s Headlines – Oct. 26, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about how health policy issues are playing across the election landscape and how business leaders are urging a deficit deal with more taxes and with efforts to address entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: CEOs Urge Congress To Reduce Federal Deficit
Chief executives from more than 80 major U.S. companies are pressing Congress to reduce the federal deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending. They warned in a statement issued Thursday that the uncertainty spawned by the deficit … is dampening businesses’ hiring and investment and stifling the fragile economic recovery. The CEOs said the solution required a combination of higher taxes and reduced government spending, including cutting entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (10/26).

The New York Times: Business Leaders Urge Deficit Deal Even With More Taxes
The partisan rift over taxes has blocked a deficit reduction deal for two years and has spilled into the 2012 campaigns. … The business leaders’ goal contrasts with the campaign messages of both parties. While the executives seem to answer Mr. Obama’s call for “economic patriotism” by their tentative embrace of higher personal taxes, in interviews many of them have rejected his “pay your fair share” talk as class warfare, and a good number oppose his re-election. But the business leaders’ position also contradicts the stand of Mitt Romney and other Republicans, who say that all tax increases are “job killers,” that the federal budget can be balanced with spending cuts alone and that any overhaul of the tax code should be “revenue neutral,” neither raising nor lowering the government’s total tax collection (Calmes, 10/25).

For more headlines …

The Wall Street Journal: CEOs Call For Deficit Action
The CEOs, in a statement to be released on Thursday, say any fiscal plan “that can succeed both financially and politically” has to limit the growth of health-care spending, make Social Security solvent and “include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit” (Wessel, 10/25).

NPR: President Embraces ‘Obamacare’; What Would Romney Do?
It’s hard to find an issue on which President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney disagree more than health care. The 2010 Affordable Care Act is considered President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, as well as something Romney has vowed to repeal (Rovner, 10/26).

The Wall Street Journal: On One Ohio Street, Voters Weary Of Election Promises
But the decisions bring little hope. Many fear neither Mr. Romney nor President Barack Obama can end their worries over growing health-care costs, stagnating incomes and the feeble job market (King, 10/26).

The New York Times: Campaigns Find That For Many Latinas, Issues Are Personal And Financial
A poll by the Pew Research Center conducted Sept. 7 to Oct. 4 found that most Latino men and women are not so far apart on the issues: They give nearly equal importance to health care, jobs and education, and nearly half say the country is headed in the right direction. Both sexes tend to vote Democratic (Santos, 10/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Return To Fray Is Uneasy For Former Governor
Tommy Thompson is learning how hard it can be to rekindle an old political love. Mr. Thompson ran Wisconsin for 14 years as its longest-serving governor, nurturing an image as a creative policy wonk and Harley-riding Everyman while breezing to re-election three times. … His opponent, a seven-term, openly gay congresswoman from the liberal stronghold of Madison, has sought to portray Mr. Thompson as a has-been who is “not for Wisconsin any more,” as her campaign slogan puts it. … She has also raised alarms over Mr. Thompson’s support for Mr. Ryan’s federal budget plan and its proposal to revamp Medicare by providing a fixed sum for seniors to buy health insurance. The former governor at first embraced the Ryan plan and vowed to help pass it in the Senate, but more recently he has put forward his own plan to shore up Medicare. which he says is “different from anybody’s” (King, 10/25).

The Washington Post: Alan Grayson On ‘Sewer Money Negative Ads’ And Why Democrats Poorly Defended ‘Obamacare’
Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) appears poised to win a second chance at serving in Congress. And after speaking with him for about 20 minutes, it’s clear that he’s eager to get back to fighting with Republicans. … 2chambers: How do you think Democrats have weathered the criticisms of health-care reform since its passage? Grayson: Poorly, because Republicans have been effective at putting people on the defensive on the Democratic side in way that they don’t deserve to be. Starting with Sarah Palin’s tweets about death panels. I’ve tried to change that – there are a lot of good things in there, that’s why we passed it. Republicans unfortunately have imagined things that are not in the bill and quite effectively put Democrats on the defensive (O’Keefe, 10/25).

Politico: Democrats Go All In For Abortion Rights
Democrats have gone all in for abortion rights, with none of the hedging or defensiveness they’ve shown in recent years — a subtle but striking repositioning with political consequences that extend far beyond Nov. 6 (Nather and Mahtesian, 10/26).

Politico: Obama: Politicians Should Stay Out Of Women’s Health
President Obama launched into a defense of women being allowed to make their own health care and reproductive choices. “These attempts to re-define rape in some way make no sense to me, and I don’t think they make sense to the vast majority of women across the country,” Obama said in an interview with NBC — indirectly referring to an incident where Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that babies who were the result of rape were part of God’s plan (Tau, 10/25).

The New York Times: Spending On Medicaid Has Slowed, Survey Finds
The annual growth in spending on Medicaid slowed sharply last year as the economy began to improve, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Enrollment in the program grew only modestly as well, but that may change as millions of people are due to become eligible in 2014 under the new national health care law (Goodnough, 10/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Pharmaceutical Company to Pay $95M To Settle Allegations Of Improper Drug Promotion
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. will pay $95 million to settle allegations that the company promoted three drugs for uses that were not medically accepted, the government announced Thursday. The Justice Department said the three are the stroke-prevention drug Aggrenox, the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Combivent and the high-blood-pressure drug Micardis (10/25).

NPR: Assisted Suicide Goes to Vote In Massachusetts
Two states, Oregon and Washington, have legalized physician-assisted suicide through voter-approved ballot initiatives. Massachusetts will become the third if voters approve the so-called Death With Dignity ballot question. The measure would let terminally ill patients with six months or less to live get a lethal prescription. The outcome of that vote could change the landscape for legalized suicide nationwide (Pfeiffer, 10/25).

Los Angeles Times: 1.2 Million Californians Los Employer Health Benefits Since 2009
About 1.2 million Californians lost employer health benefits during the recession while enrollment surged in government insurance programs, a new study finds. The number of people getting health insurance at work has been steadily declining for years in the Golden State, but those losses accelerated from 2009 to 2011, when the Great Recession took a heavy toll on many businesses, according to the study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (10/25).

The Washington Post: Chartered Health Plan Irregularities Total $4 Million, D.C. Officials Say
The District’s largest health-care contractor had about $4 million in questionable financial transactions last year that went unreported to regulators until recently, District officials said Thursday (DeBonis, 10/25).