Daily Health Policy Report

Friday, March 23, 2012

Last updated: Fri, Mar 23

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform

Capitol Hill Watch

Administration News

Campaign 2012

State Watch

Health Policy Research

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Industries Weigh In On Supreme Court Case

Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock reports: "Before the raucous legislative battle to pass the health law in 2010, there was a quieter but significant process that brought health industry players to the negotiating table. Insurers, hospitals and drug makers all cut deals to help shape what would become the Affordable Care Act. Now, as the Supreme Court awaits arguments in one of the most closely watched cases in years, the deals are threatened along with the law" (Hancock, 3/22). Read the story.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Scorecard: What The Health Law Has Delivered, Or Not

This Kaiser Health News graphic tracks the health law's implementation, noting that while "many of the most significant provisions ... don't take effect until 2014, some key changes have kicked in since Congress approved it two years ago" (3/23). Read the scorecard.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

A Timeline Of The Health Reform Law's Major Milestones And Regulations

Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas reports: "The health law was controversial even before it was signed by President Barack Obama two years ago. But the political ruckus has not deterred the administration from issuing hundreds of pages of regulations which already are affecting consumers, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and state governments. Here's a look at what was done when" (Villegas, 3/22). Read the story.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

House GOP Doctors Say Ryan Medicare Plan Doesn't Reduce Costs Enough

Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "A group of Republican doctors, nurses and dentists in the House is inserting itself into the contentious Medicare overhaul debate that so far has been dominated by Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. The 21-member House GOP Doctors Caucus is sending letters Friday asking 50 economists and health care experts across the political spectrum for their ideas about how to 'save' Medicare" (Werber Serafini, 2/23). Read the story.  

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Capsules: Sheriff: State Mental Health Cuts Undermine Public Safety

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports: "As states have struggled to balance their budgets during the economic downturn, mental health programs have frequently weathered significant cuts. Three-quarters of states have cut their mental health budgets during each of the past four fiscal years, for a combined reduction of $4.35 billion, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute, which represents state mental health agencies" (Gold, 3/22). Check out what else is on the blog.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Political Cartoon: 'Bounty Hunter?' by Nate Beeler

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Bounty Hunter?" by Nate Beeler.

Meanwhile, here's today's health policy haiku: 

BUZZ DU JOUR

Neither Supreme Court
Nor the health law's birthday can
Trump The Hunger Games
-Anonymous

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx  and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Health Reform

The Health Law Officially Turns Two -- Now What?

Supporters are marking the health law's second birthday today even as questions swirl about whether it will get to celebrate a third. Meanwhile, media outlets examine where implementation stands and what is yet to come.    

The Hill: White House Marks Healthcare Anniversary With Caution, Defiance
The second birthday of President Obama's landmark legislative achievement, coming just three days before the Supreme Court begins oral arguments on its constitutionality, falls amid serious questions over whether it will have a third. A ruling against the law this summer—a final decision from the court is expected in June—could dismantle Obama's signature policy triumph. Either way the court comes down, it will have a major effect on the tenor of this fall's presidential campaign, in which Obama will seek a second term (Parnes and Swanson, 3/23).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Missing From Obama Health-Care Anniversary: Obama
President Barack Obama's health-care law turns two years old Friday. … The White House posted video testimony of people who have been helped. The secretary of Health and Human Services is traveling the country to tout the benefits. … There's just one thing missing: Mr. Obama. He isn't making any public appearances to talk about the law, showing up only in packaged videos like this documentary-style campaign video, which recounts the story of the law's passage (Meckler, 3/22).

Modern Healthcare: Democrats Mark Health Law's Anniversary Touting Its Benefits
Moments after House members voted to repeal another provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, House Democrats hosted a news conference to promote the law on the eve of its second anniversary. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced a handful of Americans who have—or will—benefit from the Affordable Care Act's provisions, including the mother of a young child with a pre-existing condition, a senior citizen grateful for relief in his prescription drug costs, and a small business owner who will be able to maintain insurance coverage for employees (Zigmond, 3/22).

NPR: Answers To Your Questions About The Health Care Overhaul Law
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act … turns two on Friday. The law is headed to the Supreme Court on Monday. …  Ahead of the big day, we asked for questions from our audiences online and on air. Here's a sampling of questions, edited for clarity and length, and the answers (Rovner, 3/22).

Kaiser Health News: A Timeline Of The Health Reform Law's Major Milestones And Regulations
The health law was controversial even before it was signed by President Barack Obama two years ago. But the political ruckus has not deterred the administration from issuing hundreds of pages of regulations which already are affecting consumers, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and state governments. Here's a look at what was done when (Villegas, 3/22).

Politico: 5 Things Dems Got Wrong On Health Care
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies thought their political assumptions were airtight during the yearlong battle to overhaul the health care system. Voters would reward them, they thought, even if Democrats muscled a bill through without Republican support. It was just a matter of getting out of Washington and selling the law. Obama would lead the charge, and rank-and-file Democrats would proudly campaign on the achievement. None of it worked out that way (Budoff Brown, 3/23).

Medscape: Not Done Yet: 5 Healthcare Reforms Still To Come
[I]mpending changes are upcoming in 5 areas that have a direct bearing on physicians: new tax credits and penalties for employers, including private practices; Medicaid rate increases for primary care physicians; Medicare fee cuts that may be demanded by the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB); the value-based modifiers that indicate physician cost-effectiveness that will be applied to Medicare payments; and the publication of performance scores on Medicare's Physician Compare Website. (Terry, 3/22). 

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

The Individual Mandate: To Be, Or Not To Be? That Is One Of The Questions For The Supreme Court

News outlets report on the mandate's chances of surviving a constitutional challenge that will be argued before the high court next week.  

Politico: Justice Department Bets Big On Mandate
The Justice Department argues that without the mandate, there is no way to keep the law's requirements that insurance companies accept all applicants regardless of their medical history and cannot charge more to sicker and older patients. That's because without the mandate, there won't be enough healthy people paying health insurance premiums to cover the costs of the sick people. … It could also make the Supreme Court ... think twice about striking the mandate if the überpopular piece has to go, too (Haberkorn, 3/22).

The Fiscal Times: Why the Health Care Mandate Isn't Mushy Liberalism
The individual mandate is a quintessential conservative idea, created by conservative economists and initially backed by conservative think tanks (the Heritage Foundation, for one) because it was deemed necessary to make the private marketplace for individual and small group insurance policies more efficient and affordable (Goozner, 3/23).

NPR: How The Health Law Could Survive Without A Mandate
[E]xperts say there are ways to strongly encourage people to sign up that stop short of a mandate. ... [Paul Starr, a sociologist at Princeton University] has also been pushing another, even more dramatic idea. It would let people opt out of the law's requirement to have health insurance for a period of five years at a time. But they would also have to opt out of the law's benefits (Rovner, 3/23).

Legal experts also attempt to handicap how the arguments will play out - 

Politico: Legal Experts Say Court Likely To Uphold Health Law
A panel of legal experts convened by POLITICO Pro on Thursday predicted that the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the 2010 health care law. Most said the law's opponents' argument that the individual mandate could lead to Congress being able to require people to buy all sorts of other goods or services doesn't apply because health insurance is unique (Nocera and Nather, 3/22).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Changes May Not All Disappear Even If Justices Overturn The Law
So what happens to the existing provisions if the Supreme Court, which will hear challenges to the law next week, ultimately decides to go with its most sweeping option: overturning the law in its entirety? The answer depends on where you live, who you work for and how you get your insurance (Aizenman, 3/22).

McClatchy: Supreme Court Health Law Rulings Could Have Big Impact 
The court is likely to issue its decisions by the end of June, when the 2011-12 term expires. The outcome will occur in the heat of the year's election campaigns, when both parties will want to keep the issue alive, spinning the decisions to their own advantage. Expect a summer of congressional rhetoric, followed by campaign ads in the fall (Doyle and Lightman, 3/22).

Meanwhile, NPR profiles the administration's lawyer who will defend the law -

NPR: The Man Behind The Defense Of Obama's Health Law
At 54, Don Verrilli, stands tall and calm in the Supreme Court chamber, his salt and pepper mustache the only thing about him that bristles. His deep, baritone voice suggests to the justices that he is the essence of reasonableness. There are no histrionics. ... He has argued 17 cases before the court, five of them since taking over as solicitor general at the beginning of this term (Totenberg, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Health Business Sector Braces For Impact Of Supreme Court Review, Decision

Insurers and other parts of the health care industry are taking steps to brace for what the decision might be while also preparing for the changes the law puts in place.

Reuters: Analysis: Investors Weigh Chaos As High Court Reviews Health Law
What if all the work is for naught? That possibility comes into high relief for the healthcare industry starting on Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing arguments about the healthcare overhaul law. And it has investors and analysts attempting to handicap fallout from the high-profile decision. Shares of large health insurers appear to face little significant downside should the law be entirely tossed out or upheld -- at least in the near term. The major risk lies with a decision that strikes down just the part of the law that requires people to buy coverage (Krauskopf, 3/22).

Kaiser Health News: Health Industries Weigh In On Supreme Court Case
Before the raucous legislative battle to pass the health law in 2010, there was a quieter but significant process that brought health industry players to the negotiating table. Insurers, hospitals and drug makers all cut deals to help shape what would become the Affordable Care Act. Now, as the Supreme Court awaits arguments in one of the most closely watched cases in years, the deals are threatened along with the law (Hancock, 3/22).

The Associated Press: Insurers Speed Health Care Overhaul Preparations
The nation's big insurers are spending millions to carry out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul even though there's a chance the wide-reaching law won't survive Supreme Court scrutiny. It's not that health insurers want to bet big that the court will uphold the Affordable Care Act. It's that they can't afford not to. It will take at least several months and lots of resources for insurers to prepare to implement key elements of the law, which includes a controversial requirement that most Americans have health insurance by 2014 (Murphy, 3/23).

The Associated Press: Insurers Health Law Prep At A Glance
Health insurers have been implementing parts of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and preparing for provisions yet to take effect, even as the Supreme Court prepares to review whether or not the 2010 law is constitutional (3/23).

Market Watch: Health-Care Ruling Could Be A Blow To Insurers
When the Supreme Court weighs a closely watched challenge to the overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, few observers will be on edge as much as the insurance industry. ... The central issue before the court is whether Congress can mandate that all individuals buy insurance, as spelled out in the Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010. But if the court strikes down the mandate and leaves the rest of the law intact—a distinct possibility—that could spell disaster for health insurers and result in skyrocketing premiums for policyholders (Britt, 3/22).

Politico Pro: Insurers To Unroll Post-Mandate Message
Health insurers are preparing a massive messaging campaign over the next few months in case their worst-case scenario becomes reality: the Supreme Court strikes health care reform's individual mandate, but keeps everything else in the law — including provisions that change the way insurers do business. So as the Supreme Court starts oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act next week, health insurers will unroll a broad education campaign. It's not meant to influence the justices, who'll be ruling on the merits of the legal arguments. Instead, insurers are trying to advance the Washington policy discussion in case the worst happens for them. Insurers aren't saying yet exactly what they will want policymakers to do — and they are hoping the court rules in a way they don't have to (Millman, 3/23).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

High Court Health Law Action Already Making Political Waves

As supporters and opponents of the law formulate strategies to take advantage of the buzz surrounding next week's oral arguments, a new report looks at how much has been spent in public opinion ads on the law.

NPR: How Health Care Ruling Could Shift The GOP Debate
As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments about President Obama's health care law, supporters and opponents are planning a flurry of rallies, press conferences and phone banks to remind people why the law is so great — or so terrible. Republicans have been energized by their desire to see the law repealed, but the issue could be more complicated for the GOP than it seems (Liasson, 3/22).

Bloomberg: Health-Care Law Critics Outspend Supporters 3-To-1, Report Finds
Opponents of President Barack Obama's health-care law have dominated the nation's airwaves trying to shape public opinion of it with ads claiming -- falsely -- that it drained $500 billion from Medicare. On the law's second anniversary, a report shows critics have outspent supporters by a 3-to-1 ratio on television commercials since Obama signed the bill, according to the New York-based Kantar Media's CMAG, which tracks advertising.  Groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republican campaign organizations spent $204 million on ads framing the law negatively, compared with $57 million spent by supporters, primarily the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the report shows (Przybyla, 3/23).

The Hill: Report: Health Care Critics Outspending Supporters 3-To-1 On TV Ads
The report released Thursday by Kantar Media could help explain why the law's public image hasn't improved. Opponents have spent three times more than supporters on ads about the healthcare law in the two years since it passed, according to the report. The Kantar report says opponents have spent roughly $204 million on ads about the law, compared with about $58 million from supporters (Baker, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Slow To Win Favor
When the health-care overhaul became law after a bitter debate, many Democrats predicted Americans would grow to like it as they started enjoying some of the early benefits. The day after the president signed the bill into law, which happened exactly two years ago, an average of major polls collated by the website Real Clear Politics showed 50.4% of Americans opposed. This week, that had changed only by a tenth of a percentage point, ticking up to 50.5% (Adamy and Radnofsky, 3/22).

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sees an opportunity to win the messaging battle.

Politico: Mitch McConnell Eyes GOP Takeover, Health Care Reform Repeal
Not only is McConnell thinking about winning in 2012 with a message focused largely on health care, he's also starting to chart a course for a Republican Senate in 2013 and what could be a bruising reelection bid in 2014 (Raju, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Capitol Hill Watch

House Appoves Bill To Kill Medicare Cost Panel

In what is viewed as a largely symbolic move, the GOP-led House passed a bill that would undo the health law's Medicare cost control board. Though the measure initially drew some Democratic support, those votes all but disappeared after the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board was linked to medical malpractice legislation. The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.   

The New York Times: House Votes To Kill A Medicare Cost Panel
In a rebuff to President Obama, the Republican-controlled House passed a bill on Thursday to abolish a Medicare cost control board created by the new health care law. The bill, approved by a vote of 223 to 181, provoked a full-throated debate on the merits of the law, the Affordable Care Act, on the second anniversary of its signing by Mr. Obama (Pear, 3/22).

The Associated Press: Medicare Rationing? An Election-Year House Vote
House Republicans resurrected the specter of Medicare rationing Thursday in an election-year vote to repeal cost controls in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. In the GOP crosshairs is a board that has yet to be named but would be empowered to force cuts to drug companies, insurers and other service providers if Medicare spending balloons. A Republican plan announced this week, laying down a dividing line between the parties, also would limit Medicare cost increases, but it would rely on competition among private insurance plans (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/22).

Reuters: U.S. House Votes To Abolish Medicare Cost Panel
A new Medicare cost-control panel that Republicans said would lead to rationing care for the elderly was voted down by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. The Republican-led House voted 223-181 to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by President Barack Obama's healthcare law as a way to rein in soaring costs of the Medicare program for the elderly (3/22).

Market Watch: House Repeals Part Of Obama's Health-Care Law
The Republican-led House voted on Thursday to repeal a Medicare cost-control board set up by President Barack Obama's health-care law, in a largely symbolic election-year move. House lawmakers voted 223 to 181 to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a 15-member panel charged with finding ways to keep Medicare's costs in check (Schroeder, 3/22).

McClatchy: GOP-Led House Votes To Delete Plank Of Health Care Law
The House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal a key part of the 2010 federal health care law, triggering a bitter, partisan debate that's likely to be repeated throughout this election year. The Republican-led House voted 223-181 to do away with a new 15-member board designed to help control Medicare costs, a move that the Democratic-dominated Senate is likely to reject. Yet the House effort had considerable bipartisan support at one time, before it became mired in election-year politics. Both parties see their positions on the health care overhaul as important to their re-election efforts (Lightman, 3/22).

Medscape: House Repeals IPAB, Passes Malpractice Damages Cap
The American Medical Association (AMA) and other medical societies say the IPAB could cut already parsimonious Medicare rates along the lines of the program's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which links reimbursement to spending growth. ... In contrast, the Obama administration has proposed strengthening the IPAB for the sake of reducing Medicare outlays while improving care in the process. In February, Obama released a deficit reduction plan that would lower the spending target in 2018 to GDP growth plus 0.5%. (Lowes, 3/22). 

MedPage Today: House Votes to Scrap Medicare Payment Board
Several prominent Democrats voiced support for the IPAB repeal earlier in the month, including Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, who also authored legislation to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare. However, after House Republicans added a provision to the IPAB bill that limited the amounts of damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000, Democratic support appeared to disappear (Walker, 3/22).

In other news from Capitol Hill -

Reuters: Boehner: Republicans Will Rally Around Ryan Budget
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner declared on Thursday that a divided Republican caucus would rally behind the party's deficit-cutting federal budget plan when it comes to the House floor next week... But cuts to Medicare and other social programs could cause problems for more moderate Republicans who face tight re-election races in November (3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Lawmakers Examine Ways To Stop Prescription Painkiller Abuse

Lawmakers held a hearing Thursday on what steps the federal government can take to help prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers.

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Rockefeller Convenes Hearing On Prescription Drugs
Medical experts testified Thursday before a congressional subcommittee looking into how the Medicare and Medicaid systems can help prevent and treat prescription drug abuse. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced a bill last year that would promote physician and patient education and create a uniform reporting system for painkiller-related deaths. It also would provide federal funding to help establish and maintain drug monitoring programs that all states can access (3/22).

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Panel Struggles To Get Pain Treatment Right
Witnesses at a Senate hearing Thursday outlined a multipronged approach to addressing the explosive national increase in prescription-painkiller abuse, without reverting to the era in which doctors shied away from administering pain medications. They said that the greater use of health information technology, tighter monitoring of prescribers, better teamwork among doctors and nurses and a new approach for interacting with patients who use a lot of pain medication would help remedy the problem (Reichard, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Administration News

Administration Chides Two Insurers For 'Unreasonable' Rate Increases

Although the government cannot force the companies to walk back the hikes in nine states, it is seeking to draw attention to the issue and asking for a public justification for the increases.

The Hill: Obama Administration Uses Health Law Powers To Call Out Rate Hikes In Nine States
The Obama administration Thursday demanded that insurers in nine states reduce or publicly justify their proposed rate hikes. The president's healthcare reform law allows the government to demand that insurers justify "unreasonable" rate hikes of 10 percent or more. The law doesn't give federal regulators the authority to stop the increases however — rate regulation is a state issue — but it does force healthcare plans to publicly justify their actions (Pecquet, 3/22).

Modern Healthcare: Two Insurers' Rate Hikes Called 'Excessive'
Two insurers' rate hikes planned for enrollees in nine states were deemed "excessive" as part of the Obama administration's latest effort to shame insurers into lowering planned rate increases. The flagged rate increases planned by John Alden Life Insurance Co. and Time Insurance Co., both based in Milwaukee, included increases of up to 24%. Both companies are part of Assurant, based in New York City, where a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment (Daly, 3/22).

CQ HealthBeat: HHS Slams Two Insurers For 'Unreasonable' Premium Hike Requests
The John Alden Life Insurance Company and Time Insurance Company have proposed health insurance premium hikes in nine states that Health and Human Services officials said Thursday are "unreasonable." "These unreasonable rate increases would affect more than 40,000 residents," said Steve Larsen, director of HHS' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). The premium hike requests ranged from 12 percent in Louisiana to 24 percent in Wisconsin (Bunis, 3/22).

MedPage Today: HHS: Insurance Rate Hikes Too High In 9 States
The determinations of unreasonable rate increase requests came after independent review, according to HHS. The nine states involved are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The rate increases, which are as high as 24%, would affect more than 42,000 people (Frieden, 3/22). 

KCUR (Kansas City): Feds Deem Health Insurance Rate Hike Unreasonable
John Alden Life Insurance Company's individual health insurance plan, covering about 2,000 people in the state, has proposed a 15 percent rate increase, effective next month. But HHS says its analysis found that to be unjustified in Missouri and in several other states. Missouri is one of the only states that does not review or require companies to file rate increases with the state (Gordon, 3/22). 

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Watchdog Calls Assurant Rate Increases Unreasonable
Pending rate increases by two operating units of Assurant Health were found to be unreasonably high after being reviewed by independent experts for the federal government. ... Assurant Health, based in Milwaukee, employs about 1,800 people companywide and about 1,250 in Milwaukee. The health insurer, a unit of Assurant Inc., had revenue from premiums, fees and other income of almost $1.8 billion last year (Boulton, 3/22).

In other insurance market news -

Scripps Howard News Service/The Seattle Times: Medical: Fewer Americans Covered By Employer-Backed Health Insurance
Still covered through work? It's getting less common. Fewer Americans under the age of 65 have employer-backed health coverage today than at any time since it became the norm during and right after World War II. As measured by the Census Bureau in 2010, the share of Americans with any sort of workplace-sponsored coverage was 58.6 percent, down from nearly 67 percent in 2000 (Bowman, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Campaign 2012

Romney, Santorum Continue War Of Words Over Health Law Mandate, 'Template'

Mitt Romney's record on the individual mandate is coming up again as fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum continues his drum beat that Romney's Massachusetts health reform law was the "template" for the national overhaul.

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Romney And The Individual Mandate, Again
There's been a considerable amount of discussion lately about whether Mitt Romney's old campaign comments and op-eds provide proof that he actually supports a federal mandate, contrary to what he claims and what Fact Checker Glenn Kessler determined about the matter in a previous column. Still, critics such as Rick Santorum continue to pound home the notion that the former governor advocated a national insurance requirement (Hicks, 3/22).

The Associated Press: Fact Check: Say What? Odd Campaign Pronouncements
Among Republicans, a punchy Rick Santorum declared that President Barack Obama's health care law makes the life of every single American dependent on the government. Seriously? However far-reaching, the law is neither life-giving, nor health-destroying, and most Americans probably won't feel a thing (Woodward, 3/23).

Reuters: Santorum Rips Romney On Health Care Before Top Court Arguments
Rick Santorum attacked presidential rival Mitt Romney on Thursday for creating "the template" for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, spotlighting the issue ahead of crucial Supreme Court arguments on the law's constitutionality. At a campaign stop in Texas, Santorum renewed his charge that Romney had compromised his ability to challenge Obama on the federal healthcare law by backing a similar plan when he was governor of Massachusetts that included a mandate requiring people to buy insurance (Forsyth, 3/22).

National Journal: No Exit
One year ago, with the anti-"Obamacare" mantra of the midterm elections still reverberating, Mitt Romney's health care record was widely predicted to be his downfall. ... Romney's team is putting a positive spin, naturally, on the conflation of events. "The more times he gets to talk about his position and his plan's huge differences with Obamacare, the more it will register with voters that he wants to repeal it," said Romney adviser Ron Kaufman. "Any day Obamacare is in the news is a good day for Romney" (Reinhard, 3/23).

In Kansas, a third-party candidate is trying to take Obama on in the Democratic presidential caucus there --

McClatchy/Wichita Eagle: Anti-Abortion Activist Randall Terry Says He Would Defeat Obama In Kansas
Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry said he'll go to court to try to get his name on the ballot in the Kansas Democratic presidential caucus, a day after the state party determined he didn't meet the qualifications. Terry, who is running a quixotic campaign against President Obama with the stated goal of weakening the president in the November election, said keeping him off the ballot is a violation of the Constitution (Lefler, 3/23).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

State Watch

Hutchison Calls On Perry To Work With Feds On Women's Health Funding

The fight in Texas over its Women's Health Program and the dual defundings of Planned Parenthood by the state and the entire program by the federal government gained a new wrinkle as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, called on Gov. Rick Perry to work out the state's differences with the feds.

The Texas Tribune: The Storm Over Women's Health Care Had Been Brewing
In the battle between state leaders and the Obama administration over Texas' decision to oust health care providers affiliated with abortion clinics from a five-year-old contraception and cancer-screening program, both sides believe they are the victims (Ramshaw and Tan, 3/22).

Houston Chronicle: Providers Try To Fill Women's Health Program Gap
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Thursday added to the pressure on Gov. Rick Perry to save a federally-funded health program for low-income women, but state officials and local providers already are turning their focus to how to pick up the slack. In an interview on MSNBC, Hutchison called on Perry to sit down with the federal government and work out a continuation of the Medicaid Women's Health Program so Texas can get "our fair share." Federal officials this month told Texas officials they are ending the state's funding because of the Legislature's decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the program (Ackerman, 3/22).

The Dallas Morning News: Hutchison Backs Planned Parenthood In Funding Dispute
Breaking with her fellow Texas Republicans, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison defended Planned Parenthood on Thursday and said the state should work to get back federal funding for the Medicaid Women's Health Program. "The governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out, so that we can have our share … of money from Medicaid to help low-income women have their health care services," Hutchison told MSNBC (Collins Walsh, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Md. Launches Health Reform Website For Consumers; Calif. Public Option Lives On

Maryland is launching a health care reform website to educate residents on how they can use benefits in the health law. In California, health reform already affects most residents while the state gets set to offer a version of its own "public option" to buy health insurance.

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Launches Health Care Reform Website
The state will launch a website today that it hopes will give people a road map to health care reform as the country marks the second anniversary of the signing of the landmark legislation. The website, HealthReform.Maryland.gov, will provide users with information about benefits they can already take advantage of as well as those that will become available later. Most parts of the health care package won't take effect until 2014. Reform provisions already available include those giving seniors prescription drug rebate checks, allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies until they are 26 and issuing small businesses tax credits for insurance (Walker, 2/23).

California Healthline: Designing Exchange Framework as Building Begins 
The public option did not survive in Washington, D.C., but it may take root in Sacramento. At least one county-based public health plan has announced plans to participate in the California Health Benefit Exchange. Others may follow. Details for how public and private plans might coexist or compete in California's exchange have not yet been determined. We invited experts and stakeholders to share their thoughts on those issues (3/22). 

Related, earlier KHN story: The Public Option Did Not Die (Varney, 1/12).

HealthyCal: Health Reform Already Affecting Most Californians 
With new federal money, California counties are creating or expanding what are known as Low-Income Health Plans, similar to the Medi-Cal program, but for people with higher incomes or who do not have children. So far, nearly 400,000 people in 47 counties have been enrolled in these programs. In 2014, they will become part of Medi-Cal, and the federal government will continue to pick up the cost of their care. California has also begun implementing what could become the most important piece of the new health care system: the creation of a Health Benefits Exchange (Weintraub, 3/23). 

Meanwhile, in other news --

The Associated Press/Des Moines Register: Iowa Bishops Urge Fasts On Birth Control Coverage
Iowa's bishops have asked Catholics to fast as a way to demonstrate their concerns over mandates in the federal health care law. Sioux City television station KTIV reports parishioners have been asked to fast on March 30 to highlight what the bishops call "ongoing religious liberty concerns."

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

State Highlights: Mass. Enforcing Individual Mandate; Improving Kids' Dental Coverage

A selection of stories from Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Arizona, Connecticut and Maryland.

Boston Globe: Healthy Advice: Outreach Workers Making Sure People Know Of New Law
Getting the word out is half the battle, and the state is well into a $3 million media campaign ...  [E]very adult must have insurance by December. If they don’t and if the state determines that insurance was affordable for them, they will be fined $219 next year. The penalty increases substantially in 2009 (Dembner, 3/22).

California Healthline: Legislative Hearing Looks at Transition Plans
The budget subcommittee on Health and Human Services heard proposals by the Department of Health Care Services to cut health plan rate reimbursement for Healthy Families' children by 25%. In addition, DHCS intends to move 900,000 children from that program into Medi-Cal managed care. The committee also heard from a long parade of people who opposed those proposals. (Gorn, 3/23). 

The Sacramento Bee: Senate Panel Backs Choice In Medi-Cal Coverage Of Sacramento County Kids Dental Care
The legislation also would establish stricter standards for dental plans and tougher enforcement by state agencies. Steinberg said the legislation is necessary because Sacramento County's mandatory managed care dental program, the only one of its kind in the state, has left some children waiting months for treatment for painful, rotted or broken teeth (Bazar, 2/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Maryland Oral Health Program Targets Families Not Taking Advantage Of Medicaid Dental Care
[In 2007, Deamonte Driver, from Prince George's County] died from a tooth infection that spread to his brain after his coverage lapsed and his mother couldn’t find a dentist to treat him (3/23). 

The Sacramento Bee: Sutter 'Navigators' Steer Routine Patients Out Of Emergency Rooms
At least one in four visitors to Sutter Health's emergency rooms in Sacramento has problems better suited to a regular doctor's office or urgent-care clinic, the company reports. … Sutter is working with the Effort, a local nonprofit health care provider, to attack this problem ... The companies created a new job description, the emergency department navigator. Full-time navigators station themselves in the emergency rooms at Sutter General and Sutter Memorial in Sacramento (Rubenstein, 3/23).

Alaska Public Radio: Providence Hospital Tests New Breed Of Medical Professional: Health Coaches
Health coaches are still rare in the medical profession. But they are becoming more popular as chronic and often preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes consume more and more health care dollars (Feidt, 3/22). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Critics Filing Legal Challenges To Malloy Executive Orders
Opponents of two executive orders allowing home care workers and daycare providers to unionize are filing lawsuits this week alleging that the orders violate state and federal law. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued the orders in September (Levin Becker, 3/22).

The Associated Press/Arizona Republic: Arizona Prison Health-Care Lawsuit Tossed
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged that Arizona prisons don't meet the basic requirements for providing adequate medical and mental-health care to inmates. ... Judge Frederick Martone said in a ruling Wednesday that the prisoner who filed the lawsuit 18 months ago didn't have permission to add 13 more inmates as plaintiffs and seek class-action status (3/22).

Kaiser Health News: Sheriff: State Mental Health Cuts Undermine Public Safety
Three-quarters of states have cut their mental health budgets during each of the past four fiscal years, for a combined reduction of $4.35 billion, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute ... local law enforcement agencies say they’re bearing the brunt of the cuts (Gold, 3/22).

KQED's State of Health blog: S.F. Doctor New Head of National HIV Office
President Obama has tapped San Francisco's own Dr. Grant Colfax to head the Office of National AIDS Policy in Washington, D.C. Dr. Colfax is the former director of HIV prevention and research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (Schwartz, 3/22). 

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Health Policy Research

Research Roundup: Unequal 'Culture Of Quality' In Hospitals

Every week, KHN reporter Shefali S. Kulkarni compiles a selection of recently-released health policy studies and briefs. 

Archives of Surgery: Comparison Of Hospital Performance In Trauma Vs Emergency And Elective General Surgery –This study compared outcomes of trauma patients and patients having either elective or emergency surgery in the same hospital.  Researchers thought that "hospital performance reflected institutional culture, and, thus, would be similar across all services." But when looking at mortality and morbidity rates at 46 hospitals, they instead determined the "culture of quality" in trauma programs often did not also affect the other programs. They suggested that emergency general surgery departments should be incorporated into trauma performance improvement programs. (Ingraham et. al., 3/19).

Archives of Surgery: Physicians' Needs In Coping With Emotional Stressors -- In a survey given to more than 100 physicians at a large tertiary care academic hospital, the researchers found that 79% of physicians "experienced  either a serious adverse patient event and/or traumatic personal event within the preceding year." Conventional medical training does not generally address this problem and physicians often do not receive support after these events. The authors conclude: "Despite the prevalence of stressful experiences and the desire for support among physicians, established services are underused. As colleagues are the most acceptable sources of support, we advocate peer support as the most effective way to address this sensitive but important issue" (Hu et. al., March 2012).

The Urban Institute: Federal Health Expenditures On Children On The Eve Of Health Reform: A Benchmark For The Future -- This report found that even as the percentage of children in the population declined, the percentage of federal health spending on them has increased from 2 percent 50 years ago to 10 percent in 2010. That growth was fueled by Medicaid and CHIP coverage. "With enrollment in public programs expected to increase dramatically for the adult population in the coming years [under the federal health law], it will be important to monitor access for children who receive care under Medicaid and CHIP to ensure that their critical health and developmental needs are being met," the authors write (Hahn, Kenney, Coyer and Toran, 3/22).

George Washington University/Kaiser Family Foundation: Medicaid And Community Health Centers: The Relationship Between Coverage For Adults and Primary Care Capacity In Medically Underserved Communities -- This report "compares the strength of health centers in states that have expanded Medicaid coverage for adults to health centers in states with more limited Medicaid coverage for adults." The authors noted that community health centers expansion states had higher revenue, more center sites and greater growth in number of patients.  They added that "broader Medicaid eligibility for adults appears to be associated with an enhanced ability of health centers to invest in capacity-building activities to better meet the needs of their patients and communities" (Shin and Rosenbaum, 3/22).

Kaiser Family Foundation/Georgetown University: Key Issues In Understanding The Economic And Health Security Of Current And Future Generations Of Seniors -- This issue brief looks at proposed changes in three major entitlement program – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – to determine what effect they would have on seniors: "As policymakers consider options for decreasing spending on entitlement programs, it is important to consider the overall and interrelated effects of policy proposals on seniors' ability to pay for needed health care and essential living expenses. Especially important is recognition of the health and economic vulnerabilities faced by a sizable share of seniors" (Komisar, Cubanski, Dawson and Neuman, 3/19).

Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:

KQED's State of Health blog: Trauma Fuels HIV Epidemic Among Women
Now two new studies published in the journal AIDS and Behavior show that HIV-positive women suffer disproportionately high rates of trauma and PTSD. In a vicious circle, the high rates of trauma lead to increased risk of further spreading the illness. ... That combination of skipping medication and unsafe sex leads to alarming public health consequences, says lead author Edward Machtinger, who directs UCSF's Women's HIV Program. He said if a woman isn't taking HIV medications properly, she is more infectious (Kalantari, 3/20). 

MedPage Today: Peer Mentoring Helps Black Diabetics
Talking with diabetic peers who've gotten their blood sugar under control helped other African-American diabetes patients bring down their own levels, researchers found. In a sixth-month intervention among black veterans, those in a peer mentoring program lowered their HbA1c levels more than either those on usual care or those given a financial incentive, Judith Long, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues reported in the March 20 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (Fiore, 3/20).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: U.S. Cancer Screening Is Pricey, But With No Better Outcomes Than Public System
A new report comparing cancer screening programs in the U.S. and the Netherlands comes up with this not-so-surprising conclusion: we screen more here — three to four times more in this case — but mortality rates are the same in both countries. The analysis of cervical cancer screening programs, published in the Milbank Quarterly ... [found that] Not only does the publicly-run system focus on prevention, but it appears to implement its prevention plan in a way that saves money without undermining care (Zimmerman, 3/20).

MedPage Today: Only a Feel-Good Effect From More Dialysis
More frequent dialysis may make patients feel better, but it has no effect on objective physical performance, researchers reported.  In two randomized trials, there was some evidence that self-reported health and physical functioning were better after a year of dialysis six times a week rather than three, according to Yoshio Hall, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues. But on three measures of physical ability to stand up, walk, and balance, there was no difference, Hall and colleagues reported online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (Smith, 3/19).

Chicago Sun-Times: Study: Hospitals Can Speed Mental Decline For Elderly
Hospitalizing older people might place them at higher risk for accelerated cognitive decline, according to a Rush University study released Wednesday. Rates of decline occurred twice as fast among elderly patients on average after a hospital stay compared with their previous rate of decline and with older people not admitted to a health care facility. Some mental change is considered a normal part of aging, but advanced decline is associated with risk of disability and loss of independence, dementia and death (Lloyd, 3/21).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Editorials and Opinions

On Its Birthday, Health Law Feted As Giving Consumers 'Control,' Denigrated For Provoking 'Showdown'

On the second anniversary of the enactment of the law, commentators offer Supreme Court advice on historic arguments next week, examine public opinion on the overhaul and note the political consequences.

USA Today: Romney: Why I’d Repeal ObamaCare
Friday is the second anniversary of ObamaCare. It is past time to abolish the program, root and branch. The Supreme Court will soon have a crack at this; arguments about the program's constitutionality open before it next week. But whatever the justices decide in what is certain to be a landmark decision, the case against ObamaCare extends far beyond questions about its constitutionality. President Obama's program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives (Mitt Romney, 3/22).

Minneapolis Star Tribune:  Kathleen Sebelius: Health Care Reform Helps Many
Thanks to the health care law, the health insurance market is no longer stacked in favor of big insurance companies. Instead, consumers ... are getting more control of their health care. And millions of Americans who have been locked out of the market or have lived in fear of losing their coverage are gaining access to the care they need to stay healthy and thrive (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 3/22).

The New York Times: The Severability Doctrine
We believe that imposing the mandate was within Congress’s powers to regulate commerce and that the legislation should be upheld. But if the Supreme Court strikes the mandate down, the rest of the law should stand, and Congress should have to decide what happens next (Abbe R. Gluck and Michael J. Graetz, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Liberty And ObamaCare
Few legal cases in the modern era are as consequential, or as defining, as the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court hears beginning Monday. The powers that the Obama Administration is claiming change the structure of the American government as it has existed for 225 years. Thus has the health-care law provoked an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional showdown that endangers individual liberty (3/22).

The Washington Post: Obamacare: The Reckoning
Obamacare dominated the 2010 midterms, driving its Democratic authors to a historic electoral shellacking. But since then, the issue has slipped quietly underground. Now it's back, summoned to the national stage by the confluence of three disparate events: the release of new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, the approach of Supreme Court hearings on the law's constitutionality and the issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate (Charles Krauthammer, 3/22).

USA Today: Editorial: As Health Law Turns 2, The Demonization Continues
President Obama signed health reform into law two years ago today, and the president no doubt wishes the controversial measure that has come to be known as "ObamaCare" was more popular. But given the non-stop attacks and demonization, it's surprising that reform isn't less popular. Most polls, including the USA TODAY/Gallup survey, show Americans remain deeply but evenly split over the law (3/22).

USA Today: Opposing View: Scrap The Affordable Care Act
It's time to scrap the Affordable Care Act and try again. One thing hasn't changed: There continues to be bipartisan agreement that the U.S. health care system is riddled with overuse, underuse, and misuse of therapies; senseless inefficiencies; and inadequate opportunities for affordable insurance. The U.S. needs real health care reform (Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 3/22).

The Washington Post: Judging The Justices Over Conflicts Of Interest
The subject of judicial recusal has attracted attention, focused on Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, as the Supreme Court argument on Obamacare draws closer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. implicitly acknowledged this question in his 2011 year-end report when he defended, without explicitly naming them, the propriety of their sitting (Arlen Specter, 3/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Individual Mandate Is Constitutional
On Monday, the Supreme Court will commence a nearly unprecedented six hours of oral argument concerning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law two years ago tomorrow.  … Striking down the individual mandate would introduce a new and deeply problematic chapter in the history of the Commerce Clause. For the first time since the New Deal, Congress would no longer hold a vital power of national concern, namely, the authority to regulate all economic subject matter substantially affecting commerce (Leslie Meltzer Henry and Maxwell L. Stearns, 3/22).

JAMA: The Stark Choices Ahead On The Future Of Health Care
The economy might trump health care in the minds of most Americans as they enter voting booths this November, but there are far-reaching implications for the future of the health system that turn on who wins control of the Presidency, Congress, and state houses across the country. In fact, policy decisions made over the next few years may be among the most consequential for health policy than in any other period since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 (Larry Levitt, 3/22).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 20 Million Women Have Benefited From 2-Year-Old Law
These changes (from the health law) are life-changing for millions of women. But instead of seeing how much this law benefits women -- and working together to make it even better -- many Wisconsin lawmakers are fighting to stop meaningful implementation of this law. They pay no heed to the over 413,000 women who already have access to free preventive care as a result of this law, nor do they care that without the law only 13% of health plans in the individual market include maternity care (Sara Finger, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney's Health Care Duck 
RomneyCare is why a significant contingent of Republican primary voters refuse to vote for the putative front-runner. Mr. Romney had his chance to fix this via his big speech on health care at the University of Michigan in May, 2011. Yet fretful of furthering his reputation as a flip-flopper, he stuck by his law, hiding behind the 10th Amendment. "Our plan was a state solution to a state problem," he said, meaning that while it might look like ObamaCare and walk like ObamaCare and quack like ObamaCare, it was really just a harmless Massachusetts duck (Kimberley A. Strassel, 3/22).

This Story: Print | Link to | Top

Viewpoints: Ryan Budget Not A Balanced Diet; DEA War On Pharmacies; The Debate Over Medicaid Block Grants

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan's Budget Plan: Dessert First, Vegetables Later
The mother of all tax expenditures — the tax-free treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance — amounts to $2 trillion over 10 years in lost income-tax revenue, not including the additional impact on payroll tax collections. … Pause to ask yourself: Are Ryan and his fellow Republicans going to tell people they have to pay tax on the value of their health insurance? … (Hint: If you think that’s a possibility, consider the pitched battle, during the health-care debate, over subjecting only the Cadillac-iest of health care plans to a tax) (Ruth Marcus, 3/22).

The Fiscal Times: The Ryan Budget Plan: More Fantasy Than Reality
In my opinion, the Ryan budget should be seen as nothing more than a PR document for Republicans so they can say they have a plan to balance the budget, cut taxes, and cure the common cold. It may serve that narrow purpose, although many Republicans are saying that it doesn't go far enough in slashing spending. I wish I could buy some of the stuff these guys are drinking or smoking (Bruce Bartlett, 3/22). 

Reuters: Why GOP Medicare Privatization Is Wrong Approach
Medicare critics often point to government bureaucracy as a principal cause of exploding cost. Yet half of the projected growth will be driven by rising enrollment as the country ages. So the most important question is how to provide healthcare to seniors with the greatest efficiency. On that score, Medicare, as it exists now as a government entitlement program, is the clear winner. The program provides healthcare much more efficiently than private sector health plans, mainly due to the power it has to control payments made to providers (Mark Miller, 3/22).

Politico: IPAB And Medicare Costs Are Bad Medicine
When faced with the need to cut something — anything — to hit its target, what will IPAB choose? Most likely, it will be looking to the expensive new therapies, drugs and devices that represent the cutting edge of medical advance. Innovators will not continue to sink billions into research-and-development efforts if the financial rug is regularly pulled from under them. Medicare does need to be put on a budget. But it should not be done in a way that endangers the very beneficiaries for which it was created — and for whom it should be reformed and preserved  (Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 3/22).

The Fiscal Times: How Rationing Eye Care Can Save Medicare Billions
It's ironic that the symbolic vote (by the House to kill IPAB) – it will go nowhere in the Senate – took place on the day after a entirely different outside advisory panel met at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to discuss coverage issues. The hearing offered a revealing glimpse into how rationing could actually save beneficiaries and the government billions of dollars a year without jeopardizing care one iota. That's right, billions (Merrill Goozner, 3/22).

Chicago Tribune: Old Scare Tactic A New Weapon In Abortion Wars
New Hampshire House Bill 1659 is titled the "Women's Right to Know Act," but a more accurate title would be the "Activists' Right to Lie to Women Act." The measure, now moving through the Granite State Legislature, requires that at least 24 hours before undergoing a medical abortion, a woman must be informed "orally and in person" of "the increased risk of breast cancer" associated with abortion. ... It's also false, according to virtually every authoritative medical body (Eric Zorn, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: The DEA's War On Pharmacies – And Pain Patients
Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration abruptly revoked the narcotics license held by the distributor Cardinal Health, preventing that firm from shipping prescription pain drugs to thousands of Florida pharmacies and hospitals. It's the latest tactic in the DEA's struggle to stem the illicit use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin (Scott Gottlieb, 3/22).

The New York Times: Fixing New York's Budget
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are scrambling to conclude negotiations on the $132.5 billion 2012-13 state budget by March 31. As they push to finish their main piece of business, a few important items in the budget deserve notice: New York City will be unfairly penalized in the state Medicaid program unless the Legislature adopts Mr. Cuomo’s Medicaid savings plan for local governments (3/22).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Bill Means Well, But Is Naïve
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., has introduced a bill to make Medicaid into a block grant versus an entitlement program co-funded by states and the federal government, as it is now. Co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, the bill is a well-meaning but naive and misguided attempt to control state and federal expenditures…. A single payer program covering all Americans should have been passed in 2009 — and it will be, in future years when the true financial and human costs of misguided reforms like the ACA, Medicaid block grants and Medicare vouchers are clear (Jack Bernard, 3/22).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Put Funds Where They Help
This common-sense bill would repeal the federal mandates of Obamacare and send federal Medicaid and CHIP allotments back to the states in the form of flexible block grants. No two states are alike, and Georgians shouldn't be subject to one-size-fits-all federal standards of care. If our bill were to pass, there would be fewer Washington regulations, more efficiency when it comes to providing care, and the freedom for states to determine the coverage terms and physician payment systems which make the most sense based on their own demographics (Paul Broun, 3/22).

Houston Chronicle: Texans Can Rely On Continued Services Of The Women’s Health Program
While I can't predict when the legal issue will be resolved, I know with great certainty the services provided by the Women's Health Program aren't going anywhere. Gov. Rick Perry has directed us to continue providing these vital services to low-income Texas women, and that's exactly what we'll do. Much more challenging, however, is making sure women get accurate information about the program in the midst of organized attempts to confuse and frighten those who rely on it (Tom Suehs, 3/22).

Note to readers: Yesteday's Daily Report misattributed Paul Ryan's Path To Nowhere, which appared in The Washington Post. This opinion was written by Matt Miller.

This Story: Print | Link to | Top


EDITOR:
Stephanie Stapleton

ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
Andrew Villegas

WRITERS:
Ankita Rao
Marissa Evans

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2012 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.