Today’s Headlines – Jan. 3, 2013

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including more analysis of how the “fiscal cliff” deal impacts health programs as well as what the upcoming deficit talks might have in store for entitlement spending.

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The Fiscal Cliff Cuts $1.9 Billion From Obamacare. Here’s How.
The fiscal cliff deal is, obviously, mostly about preventing the fiscal cliff and stopping a wave of huge spending cuts. At the same time, legislators did find ways to make some relatively important health policy changes too. They include everything from raising Medicare doctor’s pay, repealing a part of the Obamacare and cutting over a billion from the law’s funding (Kliff, 1/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Deal Fails To Satisfy Liberal Democrats
A deal to avert the fiscal cliff and raise taxes on the wealthy left a sour aftertaste among some liberals who believe President Barack Obama wasted his political leverage by settling for a pared-down deal. … One of those showdowns is sure to include a debate over changes to entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. That has already bred tension in the Democratic ranks. Groups such as Health Care for America Now vow to oppose any cuts that would affect beneficiaries, whereas the president and other congressional Democrats have shown some willingness to make changes that would affect recipients (Murray, 1/2).

For more headlines …

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Cliff Deal Irks Hospitals
Now that health-care providers have sifted through the fiscal-cliff package, one group is emerging as the most upset with the deal: hospitals. Several pieces of the bill, which is headed for President Barack Obama’s desk, would reduce federal payments to hospitals in exchange for staving off cuts to doctor’s pay. Hospitals are calling it a raid on their funding, which has already been subject to cuts in the health overhaul law (Radnofsky, 1/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Fresh Budget Fights Brewing
Republicans say any further deficit reduction or legislation to avoid across-the-board spending cuts should come from reducing spending. President Obama and many Democrats advocate a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. The most serious skirmish will arrive toward the end of February, when the U.S. Treasury is expected to be unable to pay all the government’s bills unless Congress boosts the federal borrowing limit (Paletta, 1/3).

The New York Times: Lawmakers Gird For Next Fiscal Clash, On The Debt Ceiling
Smarting from the president’s victory on taxes over the New Year’s holiday, Republicans in Congress are betting that their refusal to raise the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling will force Mr. Obama to the bargaining table on spending cuts and issues like changes in Medicare and Social Security (Shear and Calmes, 1/2).

The New York Times: Tax Deal Shows Possible Path Around House GOP In Fiscal Fights To Come
With the contentious 112th Congress coming to a close, the talks between the White House, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats that secured a path around a looming fiscal crisis on Tuesday may point the way forward for President Obama as he tries to navigate his second term around House Republicans intent on blocking his agenda in the 113th. … A senior Democrat said that game plan would start in the coming weeks, when Mr. Obama addresses his agenda in his State of the Union address and lays out his budget for the 2014 fiscal year, due in early February. That opening bid should restart talks with Congress on an overarching agreement that would lock in deficit reduction through additional revenue, changes to entitlement programs and more spending cuts, to be worked out by the relevant committees in Congress (Weisman, 1/2).

Los Angeles Times: News Analysis: Parties’ Role Reversal Complicates Spending Debates
At its core, the debate over the size of government and how to pay for it pits the interests of the huge baby boom generation, now mostly in their 50s and 60s, against the needs of the even larger cohort in their teens and 20s. With limited government money to spend, how much should go to paying medical bills for retirees versus subsidizing college loans, job training and healthcare for young families with children? As they grapple with that, the party of small government increasingly relies on the votes of people dependent on entitlement spending. And the party that created the massive government programs for retirees has more and more become the political home of the young (Lauter, 1/2).

Politico: 5 States To Watch On The Implementation Of ACA
States entered 2012 not knowing whether President Barack Obama’s health care law would survive. They enter 2013 facing the reality of impending deadlines and tough choices that can’t be put off much longer. Even states that have turned down the chance to build their own exchanges — about 30 in all — have about six weeks to decide whether they want to partner with the feds on key functions. Although states don’t face a deadline to say whether they’ll expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, the clock is definitely ticking (Millman, 1/3).

Los Angeles Times: Hobby Lobby To Defy Law On Contraception Coverage
After losing a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court, craft stores chain Hobby Lobby said it would defy a federal healthcare mandate requiring employers to provide their workers with insurance that covers emergency contraceptives (Li, 1/1).

USA Today: Dental Therapists Aim To Fill Dental-Care Gap
With a growing number of people on medical assistance or without insurance needing dental care and an insufficient number of dentists, “The need for dental therapists is huge,” says Meyer, among the first nine graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s Dental Therapy program in 2011. The school’s second graduating class of nine students received their degrees earlier this month (Healy, 1/2).