First Edition: August 3, 2010

Today's headlines include reports about a federal judge's ruling regarding the Virginia challenge to the health reform law and about the Senate's latest delay in consideration of a state aid package that includes Medicaid assistance.  

Insuring Your Health: Rating Your Doctor
In her latest KHN consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "For most people, picking a doctor is hardly a scientific process. They ask friends or family members to pass along names of doctors they like and trust, or rely on another doctor's referral. Increasingly, health plans and independent groups are making physician information available online to help consumers make these choices more methodically" (Kaiser Health News).

U.S. Judge Allows Va. Health-Care Lawsuit To Move Ahead
A federal judge refused Monday to dismiss a Virginia lawsuit challenging the nation's sweeping new health-care law, indicating the law represents a novel extension of Congress's constitutional authority that should be tested in court and handing the law's foes an early legal victory (The Washington Post).

State Has Right To Challenge Healthcare Law, Judge Rules
The Obama administration lost an early legal skirmish over the new healthcare law Monday when a federal judge declined to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit challenging a key part of the landmark legislation (Los Angeles Times).

Judge Refuses To Block Virginia Challenge To Health-Care Reform
A federal judge in Richmond, Va, refused on Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by the Virginia attorney general challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care reform law (The Christian Science Monitor).

KHN Daily Report: Federal Judge Says Virginia Challenge To Health Reform Law May Proceed
Kaiser Health News tracked Monday's coverage of the ruling. Read a round up the stories.

Budget Woes Snare State Aid Bill
Just hours before a scheduled cloture vote Monday, the Congressional Budget Office informed Senate leadership that it was still about $5 billion short of offsetting the full $26.1 billion cost of the package (Politico).

Senate Vote On Medicaid, Education Funds Delayed
The Senate tabled a jobs measure Monday because Democrats underestimated the package's cost (The Hill).

Health-Care Law To Save Medicare $8 Billion Through Next Year, Report Predicts
The new health overhaul law will start producing savings for Medicare right away and, over time, will add 12 years of solvency to the program's giant trust fund for inpatient care, the Obama administration says in a report to be released Monday (The Associated Press/Washington Post).

HHS Trumpets Medicare Savings Report
The Democrats' healthcare reform law will save Medicare hundreds of billions of dollars and extend the life of the program more than a decade, according to a report issued Monday by the Obama administration (The Hill).

Covering New Ground In Health System Shift
In late March, after passage of the landmark health care legislation, the Obama administration sent a sternly worded notice to insurance companies, saying they must cover children, regardless of any pre-existing conditions (The New York Times).

No Census Of Health Reform's Progeny
Don't bother trying to count up the number of agencies, boards and commissions created under the new health care law. Estimating the number is "impossible," a recent Congressional Research Service report says, and a true count "unknowable" (Politico).

Capital Journal: Health Care's Slim Political Payoff
What if the Democrats hadn't done health care? It's a hypothetical question, to be sure, but in many ways the most intriguing one to ponder at the outset of the August congressional recess in a tough political year for Democrats (The Wall Street Journal).

A Young Republican With A Sweeping Agenda
Still early on a recent weekday morning, the mostly elderly crowd that half-filled a hall in this small town looked like it might be thinking about another cup of coffee. But Representative Paul D. Ryan, the rangy Republican who represents this southeastern Wisconsin district, was in full PowerPoint roll, gesturing and barking out, in staccato tones, why the nation must make major changes to Social Security and Medicare (The New York Times).

Bid To Revive 9/11 Care Bill
New York lawmakers have begun discussing ways of rescuing a bill to provide health care for ill Ground Zero workers following its defeat on the House floor last week after a bitter battle (The Wall Street Journal).

Humana's Profit Jumps 21%
Humana Inc.'s second-quarter profit rose 21% as the health insurer increased its Medicare Advantage membership and benefited from patients' recent lower demand for health-care services (The Wall Street Journal).

Humana 2Q Net Income Rises 21 Percent On Premiums
Humana Inc. reported a 21 percent upswing in second-quarter profit Monday as the health insurer's latest strong performance in its vast government segment, led by its growing Medicare Advantage business, was backed by a big improvement in its commercial sector (The Associated Press).

Free Dental Care Draws Thousands To Outdoor Clinic In Rural Virginia
On a weekend in late July, at the free annual open-air health clinic held here in this Appalachian community, a total of 2,643 teeth were extracted. Each one bore mute and personal testimony to the isolation of this rural place, and the defeats and losses of its people (The Washington Post). 

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