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Today’s Headlines – Sept. 27, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about how the health law and Medicare are buzz words in public opinion polls and on the campaign trail.

Los Angeles Times: Romney Cites His Healthcare Law As Proof Of His Compassion
Mitt Romney, while campaigning in Ohio on Wednesday, highlighted the healthcare law that he passed while governor of Massachusetts as proof of his empathy for people. … The healthcare law is controversial among conservatives because it included a mandate that nearly every state resident purchase the insurance or be fined; it served as the model of the federal healthcare law that is Obama’s signature act as president, and that is an anathema to many Republicans (Mehta, 9/26).

Politico: Romney Hits ‘Obamacare’ In Ohio
Facing falling poll numbers in Ohio, Mitt Romney reconfigured his stump speech here, ratcheting up his attack on President Barack Obama’s health care law and returning to his once-abandoned talking points about the Founding Fathers and the debt clock. … Instead of simply vowing to repeal the health care overhaul, Romney spoke more about the danger it poses to American freedoms (Gibson, 9/26).

For more headlines …

The Washington Post: Romney Shows Political Flexibility On Health Care
Over the course of a half hour on Wednesday evening, Mitt Romney put on a vivid display of his political flexibility on the lightning-rod issue of health care. As his surrogates were warming up a crowd of 3,600 at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo, Romney sat backstage for an interview with NBC News, during which  he fully embraced the health care overhaul he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. … Then, just minutes later, Romney stepped out to rally his supporters here with a sharp critique of Obama’s national health-care overhaul, calling the federal law “Exhibit No. 1” of Obama’s liberal view of government, even though it is very similar to Romney’s own Massachusetts law (Rucker, 9/26).

The New York Times: Romney Ad Reaches Out To Working Class
Mitt Romney stepped up his efforts to repair the damage from his “47 percent” comments, releasing a new television ad on Wednesday. … In an NBC News interview on Wednesday, Mr. Romney, explaining why he could relate to middle-class voters, talked about the health care law he championed as governor of Massachusetts but rarely mentions on the campaign trail. “Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” he said. “One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record” (Parker, 9/26).

Politico: Swing-States Polls: President Obama Tops Mitt Romney On Medicare
And that’s despite weeks of Republican attacks that the president is taking $716 billion from Medicare to pay for “Obamacare.” In Florida, Obama is up by 15 percentage points on the question of who would do a better job on Medicare, 55 percent to 40 percent. The numbers are consistent in all three states. Obama leads 55 percent to 39 percent in Ohio, and 55 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania (Norman, 9/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Big Firms Overhaul Health Coverage
Two big employers are planning a radical change in the way they provide health benefits to their workers, giving employees a fixed sum of money and allowing them to choose their medical coverage and insurer from an online marketplace (Mathews, 9/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: How To Maximize Your Savings Through Smart Health Care Benefit Decisions
Employers will soon be offering workers their yearly opportunity to make changes to their health care benefits. All too often this open-enrollment period has required combing through pages and pages of confusing insurance terms. But this year workers will receive help translating that jargon thanks to a new requirement that insurers provide a user-friendly coverage summary of all health plans. Combined with innovative wellness plans that reward employees for staying health, experts say millions of workers should be able to make smarter benefit decision and save money in the process (9/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Inspector General: Medicare Wrongly Paid For $25M In Refills On Painkillers, Other Drugs
Medicare routinely refilled pain pills and other restricted medications that are barred by federal law from renewal without a fresh prescription, government inspectors said in a report Thursday (9/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Making The ‘Pharmacy Crawl’
The clampdown by Florida and at least seven other states has left some pain-sufferers struggling to get their medicine. That has put drug-enforcement and public-health officials at odds with some doctors and patients legitimately prescribed the pills. Several states now make doctors criminally liable and revoke their licenses for writing prescriptions for painkillers that lead to overdoses, prompting many to stop prescribing them at all. Other states have tightened regulation of pain clinics, forcing so-called pill mills to close but leaving people in need of pain medications with fewer doctors (Martin, 9/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Md. Health Reform Panel To Vote On State’s Benchmark Health Benefit Plan
A Maryland panel working on implementing federal health care reform is planning to take a vote on the state’s benchmark health benefit plan. The Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council is scheduled to meet Thursday in Annapolis (9/27).