First Edition: August 6, 2010

In today's health policy headlines, news reports about the Senate's passage of a state aid package that includes an extension of Medicaid enhanced funding, and the latest report from the Medicare Trustees.

From Florida To Oregon, Medicare Advantage's Benefits – And Cuts – Vary
This Kaiser Health News story by David Gulliver, produced in partnership with Health News Florida, explores how the impact of changes to Medicare Advantage will differ from place to place across the country. "For the 11 million people signed up for Medicare Advantage plans, their future with the popular program may depend on where they live" (Kaiser Health News).

State Aid Bill A Gamble For Dems
When the House returns next week to rubber-stamp the Senate's $26 billion state-aid package, Democrats will take a political crapshoot (Politico).

Senate Votes $26 Billion For States And Schools
The Senate on Thursday approved $26 billion in aid to states and school districts to prevent the layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers and government workers while allocating $600 million to strengthen border security as senators headed toward an August recess (The New York Times). 

Senate Passes State Aid Bill
The Senate on Thursday approved a $26.1-billion state aid bill to save teachers' jobs and extend healthcare for low-income people, but liberal House Democrats may have to swallow hard before accepting some of the offsetting cuts in social programs dear to their hearts (Los Angeles Times).

Medicare Funds To Last 12 Years Longer Than Earlier Forecast, Report Says
Medicare's finances have been strengthened by the new law setting in motion broad changes to the nation's health-care system, according to a government forecast issued Thursday, which says the fund that pays for older Americans' hospital care will last a dozen years longer than expected (The Washington Post).

Medicare Stronger, Social Security Worse In Short Run, Report Finds
Medicare will remain financially solvent for 12 additional years, until 2029, because of the cost-cutting measures in President Obama's recently enacted health care legislation, the program's trustees projected on Thursday (The New York Times).

Social Security And Medicare Still Face Serious Financial Challenges, Annual Review Says
Social Security and Medicare continue to face grave financial challenges even though the new healthcare law may provide added stability to the two massive programs, according to the government's annual review (Los Angeles Times).

Medicare Fund Will Last Extra 12 Years – Maybe
Medicare is in better shape because of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul and will stay afloat a dozen years longer than earlier projected, trustees forecast Thursday. But that depends on cuts in care that the system's top analyst says are highly doubtful (The Washington Post).

Bullish Medicare Projection Doubted
The Obama administration touted a report showing its new health-care law has improved Medicare's financial outlook, but the program's chief actuary challenged the assumptions as too rosy (The Wall Street Journal).

Medicare Savings Projections In Dispute
Savings projected under the landmark health care law signed by President Obama this year have improved Medicare's financial projections, but Republican critics and even the program's chief actuary say the new prognosis is too rosy (USA Today).

Health Care Law May Extend Medicare By 12 Years
If the government pushes hospitals and doctors to become more productive and less wasteful, does that mean it will happen? … Now, as became clear on Thursday in the latest report from the trustees for Medicare and Social Security, it is time to put the theory to the test (The Fiscal Times).

States Respond In Health Care Overhaul Suit
Twenty states and the nation's most influential small business lobby plan Friday to file their response to the government's attempt to dismiss their lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (The Associated Press).

States Enact Healthcare Law As Lawsuits Proceed
State governments are implementing the controversial healthcare law, even in places where elected officials are challenging its constitutionality (The Hill).

State Regulators Can Often Do Little To Control What Insurers Are Charging
As Americans struggle with double-digit hikes in their health insurance bills, millions are coming up against a hard reality: the state regulators who are supposed to protect them can often do little to control what insurers are charging (Los Angeles Times).

Blue Cross Agrees To Reduce Rate Increase
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest health insurer, has agreed to reduce a dramatic rate hike for individuals and small businesses, becoming the fourth major insurance company to reach a deal with the state after regulators rejected their initial price increases four months ago (The Boston Globe).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.