KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: October 20, 2011

In today's headlines, reports analyzing the super committee's progress, and detailing how Republican rivals' stabs at 'Romneycare' are starting to gaining traction. 

Kaiser Health News: Oregon Wants To Grade Its ACOs
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Kristian Foden-Vencil, who filed this story as part of a partnership between public radio member stations, NPR and Kaiser Health News, writes: "Unlike many states, Oregon is picking up the new federal health care law and running with it. For example, the Oregon Health Department is already setting up new accountable care organizations -- something the federal government doesn't require until next year" (Foden-Vencil, 10/19). A version of the story aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: To Curb Abortions, States Focus On The 'Supply-Side'
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports: "States enacted a record number of abortion restrictions in the first half of 2011, many of them requiring 24-hour waiting periods, ultrasounds or parental permission to deter women from obtaining abortions. But these types of 'demand-side policies' have not had much of an impact in the past on national abortion rates, according to an article in the most recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine" (10/20). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post: Supercommittee's Lack Of Progress On Debt Reduction Raises Alarms On Hill
Committee members say there is still time to cut a deal and have congressional budget analysts assess it. But the lack of progress is raising alarms on Capitol Hill and beyond as lawmakers and other observers grow increasingly worried that the panel is running out of time (Montgomery and Kane, 10/19).

Los Angeles Times: 'Super Committee' On Deficit Reduction Is Getting An Earful
The congressional "super committee" on deficit reduction has received nearly 180,000 submissions from lawmakers, advocacy groups and ordinary Americans as it pursues its daunting goal of recommending $1.5 trillion in federal deficit reductions by next month (Mascaro, 10/19).

Politico: Deficit Supercommittee Starts To Show Signs Of Life
As Washington continues to question whether the supercommittee can actually reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from federal ledgers, the powerful panel is trying to tamp down growing skepticism and show some signs of life (Sherman and Raju, 10/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Notebook: Both Sides Aiming For Late March Hearing On Health Care Overhaul
The Obama administration and challengers of the president's health care overhaul are pushing for Supreme Court consideration of the law in late March, judging by the speed with which they are filing legal papers. Parties in a high court case rarely submit legal briefs before their deadline, and often ask for extensions. But this week, the Obama administration, the 26 states that have joined in opposition to the law and the association of small businesses that also wants the law struck down filed their briefs more than a week before they were due (10/20).

Politico: CLASS Act's Demise Is Mourned By Backers
The death of health reform's long-term care insurance program was so unceremonious that its supporters — among the Obama administration’s closest allies on health issues — got about 30 minutes' notice of the funeral (Norman, 10/19).

The New York Times: U.S. Benefits For Retirees To Rise 3.6% Next Year
Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president of AARP, the lobby for middle-aged and older Americans, said the increase in benefits would provide some relief for people whose finances had been battered by a "decline in housing values, deep losses to retirement and savings accounts and skyrocketing health and prescription drug costs" in the last few years. The Social Security Administration pointed out on Wednesday that for some beneficiaries, the increase in Social Security benefits next year "may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums" (Pear, 10/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Prices Rise 0.3%, Prompting Boost In Government Benefits
The climb in prices means millions of Americans who rely on government programs such as Social Security will receive their first cost-of-living increase since 2009. It also will raise taxes on close to 10 million of the 161 million workers who pay Social Security taxes. That's because in 2012, Americans will have to pay the payroll tax on their first $110,100 in earnings, up from the $106,800 in earnings in 2011. … Nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries will see their checks rise by 3.6% beginning in January. … The 3.6% increase could be partially or completely offset by a bump in the premiums that seniors pay for Medicare Part B benefits, which have been held flat for many beneficiaries because of low inflation in the last two years. … The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could announce their premiums and copayments for 2012 as soon as next week. Because Medicare premiums are deducted directly from Social Security checks, many Americans may never see an increase (Paletta and Murray, 10/20).

USA Today: Republican Rivals' Stabs At 'Romneycare' Gaining Traction
After months of trying, Republican presidential contenders managed to draw blood from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney during Tuesday night's debate, and campaign observers said Wednesday that voters should expect more such attacks. Romney's support for a 2006 Massachusetts health care law that provided many of the ideas for what turned into President Obama's law from last year will remain Romney's weak spot among Republican primary voters, says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and senior fellow at the University of Southern California (Kucinich, 10/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Republican Rivals Put Focus On Shifts In Romney's Views
They say Mr. Romney has yet to bring to his side conservative voters wary that he has in the past taken varying positions on abortion, backed a Massachusetts requirement that individuals buy health insurance and cast himself as a champion of "full equality'' for gays and lesbians (O’Connor and King, 10/20).

The Associated Press/Washignton Post: Ind.'s Planned Parenthood Resists Call To Split Its Abortion Services, Citing 2 States
Indiana officials contend the state's Planned Parenthood chapter could end a fierce legal dispute over abortion funding by simply separating its abortion business from other services. But advocates for the organization view the idea as a red herring pushed by critics seeking to entirely defund the country's largest abortion provider. Their skepticism is fueled by experiences from Planned Parenthood chapters in two other states where non-abortion services were targeted even after such a split (10/19).

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