Today’s Headlines – Sept. 23, 2011

Happy Friday! In today’s headlines, the skinny on how health policy issues played in Thursday night’s GOP presidential primary debate.

Los Angeles Times: Obama Alienating Some Democratic Moderates With Fiscal Stance
Staking out fiscally conservative positions, Democrats over the last several elections have managed to steal voters from Republicans in some unlikely places, such as Montana and Virginia. But many moderates lost their seats in 2010, and those who remain are nervous about the campaign and aren’t eager to embrace the president’s call for tax hikes, even increases aimed at the wealthiest Americans (Hennessey, 9/22).

The Washington Post: Rick Perry, Mitt Romney Spar In Republican Presidential Debate
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tangled over Social Security, health care and other issues here Thursday in a debate in which the Republican presidential candidates sharply criticized the policies of President Obama and joined in an assault on the federal government (Balz and Bacon, 9/22).

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The Associated Press/NPR: Romney, Perry Go After Each Other In GOP Debate
Side by side in confrontational debate, Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Perry sarcastically accused each other Thursday night of flip-flopping on Social Security and health care, flashpoints in their intense struggle for the party nomination (9/22).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Debate: Perry Seems To Muff Chance to Hit ‘Romneycare’
Mitt Romney knew that questions about his Massachusetts healthcare plan would keep coming — but again the kill-shot seemed elusive. Rick Perry was given a chance to fire at point-blank range in the Fox News/Google debate Thursday when Romney was asked about Perry’s remarks a day earlier that labeled him “Obama-lite” and likened his Massachusetts plan to “socialized medicine” (Oliphant, 9/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Analysis: Records Give Govs. Perry, Romney Credibility, But Open Them To Attack In GOP Forums
As governors of Texas and Massachusetts, respectively, Perry and Romney made high-profile decisions about health care, immigration and other issues that many people praised as pragmatic and sensible. But in ideology-driven candidates’ forums, they fail the test of conservative orthodoxy (9/23).

Politico: Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry Struggle On HPV Question
There’s no winner on the HPV vaccine issue anymore. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry both struggled to explain their views on the vaccine in Orlando Thursday night, revisiting an issue that the two collided over in the last presidential debate (Burns, 9/22).

NPR Shots Blog: Silence From Rep. Bachmann As Vaccine Challenge Expires
The high noon deadline for bioethicist Arthur Caplan’s $10,000 challenge to Rep. Michele Bachmann has come and gone without a peep from the Republican presidential hopeful. But damage from her statement linking the HPV vaccine with mental retardation has already been done, Caplan says (Husted, 9/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Long-Term Care Program In Doubt
The Obama administration said it may not enact a long-term-care insurance program included in last year’s legislation that overhauled health care. The initiative, known as the Class Act, was designed to help Americans cover the cost of aid for daily living needs such as bathing and using the toilet should they become too old or sick to care for themselves. It became law when President Barack Obama signed the health-care overhaul in 2010, though the program hasn’t begun operating. Amid mounting concerns about its fiscal sustainability, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday said they may not go forward with the program. “It is an open question whether the program will be implemented,” the agency said (Adamy, 9/23).

Politico: Consumer Groups Grab Health Grants
A portion of federal grants to help states monitor rate hikes will be going to consumer advocacy groups that regularly pick fights with insurers — and the insurance industry is calling foul. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $109 million in grants to 28 states and Washington, D.C., to strengthen their review process of proposed hikes. It marked the second round of rate review funds under the health care reform law, after HHS sent out $46 million to 45 states and the District of Columbia (Nocera and Millman, 9/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: AP Impact: Drug Shortages Endanger Patients, Disrupt Hospital Operations, Raise Cost Of Care
A severe shortage of drugs for chemotherapy, infections and other serious ailments is endangering patients and forcing hospitals to buy life-saving medications from secondary suppliers at huge markups because they can’t get them any other way. An Associated Press review of industry reports and interviews with nearly two dozen experts found at least 15 deaths in the past 15 months blamed on the shortages, either because the right drug wasn’t available or because of dosing errors or other problems in administering or preparing alternative medications (9/23).