KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: October 17, 2012

Today's headlines include health policy highlights from last night's presidential debate.

Kaiser Health News: Putting The 'Care' Into Long-Term Care Insurance
Oregon Public Broadcasting's Kristian Foden-Vencil, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Oregon, for example, has new rules on how to appeal a denial on a long-term care insurance claim. Previously, the only way to appeal a decision was in court, an arduous process for a person who may be elderly, sick and in a nursing home" (Foden-Vencil, 10/17). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Houston Hit Hard In Latest Medicare Fraud Bust
KUHF's Carrie Feibel, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "When federal law enforcement agents swept through seven U.S. cities earlier this month to arrest more than 91 doctors, nurses and others for Medicare fraud, one of their targets was Houston. For the Bayou City, it was the latest in a disturbing series of revelations about health care fraud there" (Feibel, 10/17). Read the story.

The New York Times: Rivals Bring Bare Fists To Rematch
President Obama and Mitt Romney engaged Tuesday in one of the most intensive clashes in a televised presidential debate, with tensions between them spilling out in interruptions, personal rebukes and accusations of lying as they parried over the last four years under Mr. Obama and what the next four would look like under a President Romney (Rutenberg and Zeleny, 10/16).

Los Angeles Times: A Sharper Tone In Second Presidential Debate
In a town-hall-style debate that was supposed to focus on questions from ordinary voters, President Obama and Mitt Romney circled each other on the stage and engaged in finger-pointing displays. … But Romney also appeared to contradict himself when he stated that all women should have access to contraception, though he supported an amendment in Congress that would allow employers to deny birth-control coverage to their workers. … Obama's wide-ranging assault — on everything from Romney's personal tax rate, his comments about "the 47%" and his work as a venture capitalist, to his policies on taxation, immigration, contraception and healthcare — were studded with specific details designed to portray the Republican challenger as an avatar of the wealthy (West and Mehta, 10/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Candidates Tangle In Fractious Debate
Mr. Romney distilled his argument against the president to a simple theme: The country can't afford four more years under Mr. Obama. … The candidates fielded a range of questions from undecided voters, selected by the Gallup Organization polling company, in a 90-minute debate at Hofstra University on New York's Long Island. Mr. Obama took on Mr. Romney's positions on taxes, trade, energy and women's health issues in an attempt to cast him as more conservative than the GOP candidate has suggested in recent days (Lee, Hook and O’Connor, 10/17).

The Washington Post: With Stakes High, Obama Hits Back At Romney In A Fiery Second Debate
A far more aggressive President Obama showed up for his second debate with Mitt Romney on Tuesday, and at moments their town-hall-style engagement felt more like a shouting match than a presidential debate. … The debate, which was framed by questions from the audience, ranged into topics that had not been broached in any depth at the earlier one — including immigration, women’s issues, gun control and foreign policy (Tumulty and Rucker, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: Energized Obama Takes Aggressive Approach In Second Debate
Each man aimed comments directly at voters that are key to their election efforts. Obama offered a long list of policies that his administration has designed to help women in the workplace and said Romney's plans would deprive many working women of contraceptive coverage on their health plans, something Romney denied (Lauter, 10/16).

Los Angeles Times: Romney And Obama Spar Over Their Women-Friendly Policies
As he often does, Romney brought the question around to a strong economy. In such an environment, he said, employers are "going to be anxious to hire women." Obama came back at Romney by knocking him for his opposition to insurers being required to provide contraception coverage, as well as his intention to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood (Abcarian, 10/16).

Politico: Abortion Finally Comes To The Surface
It took a debate and a half to get there, but the biggest social-issue debate of the 2012 campaign finally came up in an Obama-Romney debate. It was the president, rather than a questioner, who raised abortion. In an exchange about women's rights in the workplace, Barack Obama segued to a sharp critique of Mitt Romney's views on contraception and his support for defunding Planned Parenthood (Burns, 10/16).

Politico: 'Determinators' DVD Takes Swipe At 'Obamacare'
The Tea Party Patriots is going postal, announcing plans Tuesday to mail anti-"Obamacare" DVDs to more than 350,000 undecided voters in pivotal swing states. The film, which the group has dubbed "The Determinators," is meant to underscore "the ills of the president's health care reform law that many have forgotten since the law was passed" (Cheney, 10/17).

NPR: Home Health Aides Often As Old As Their Clients
As America ages, its 2.5 million home health workers are graying right along with the clients they care for. And by all accounts, these older workers are especially well suited to the job (Ludden, 10/17).

NPR: Home Health Aides In Demand, Yet Paid Little
The home care workforce — some 2.5 million strong — is one of the nation's fastest growing yet also worst paid. Turnover is high, and with a potential labor shortage looming as the baby boomers age, there are efforts to attract more people to the job. One such effort plays out in a large, sunny room in a Bronx high-rise, where Cooperative Home Care Associates holds an extensive, monthlong training program. On a recent day, two dozen women paired off at rows of hospital beds. As instructors coached them, they took turns lifting each other in a mechanical sling, or gently stretching each other's limbs, as is commonly done for stroke patients (Ludden, 10/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Benefits To Get A Small Bump
More than 56 million Social Security beneficiaries will see their checks increase 1.7% starting in January, under an annual cost-of-living adjustment that is tied to how much certain prices climb in July through September compared with a year earlier. Eight million people who receive Supplemental Security Income—mainly the poor and disabled—will get the boost starting in December, the agency said. This means the average monthly Social Security check will rise by $21 to $1,261, the agency said. However, the increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums—the portion of a retiree's check that the government deducts to cover health-care expenses. The premiums for 2013 haven't been announced yet (Mitchell, 10/16).

Los Angeles Times: Social Security Checks To Increase, But It May Be Hard To Notice
Seniors receive an average of $1,237 a month, meaning the increase will add about $21 a month to their checks, according to the agency. However, the Social Security Administration warned that "for some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums." The Medicare Part B premium is now about $100 a month and the government is projecting an expected increase of about $7 a month when new rate schedules are announced soon. The Part B premium covers doctor's visits (Muskal, 10/16).

The New York Times: Investigators Visit Company Tied To Meningitis Cases
Criminal investigators from the Food and Drug Administration were at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., on Tuesday, officials said, in the first public indication that the federal government was preparing a case against the company linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak (Tavernise and Grady, 10/16).

Los Angeles Times: State Probes CVS Refill Allegations
State pharmacy regulators have opened an investigation into reports that CVS Caremark Corp. refilled prescriptions and billed insurance companies without patients' consent. Virginia Herold, executive officer of the California Board of Pharmacy, said Tuesday that investigators were probing complaints about the refill practices of the country's largest drugstore chain after Walgreen Co (Lifsher,10/16).

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