First Edition: August 11, 2010

Today's health policy headlines include reports that President Obama signed into law a $26 billion state aid package that includes $16 billion in federal Medicaid assistance.

House Approves Bill To Aid States
House members, many grumpy at having to return from a summer break, came back to the Capitol Tuesday to approve a $26 billion bill aimed at helping states retain teachers and make Medicaid payments (The Wall Street Journal).

President Obama Signs $26 Billion Jobs Bill To Aid State Payrolls
President Obama approved a final spurt of spending Tuesday to shore up the sluggish recovery, signing into law a $26 billion plan to save the jobs of thousands of teachers and other government workers. The measure brings total direct federal spending on the economy to nearly $1.2 trillion since the nation descended into recession in late 2007 (The Washington Post).

$26-Billion Aid Package For States Becomes Law
Congress on Tuesday gave final approval to a $26.1-billion aid package for cash-strapped states that will keep 161,000 teachers and thousands of police, fire and other local government workers from being laid off. The legislation was quickly signed by President Obama. The funding will also help states maintain medical services for low-income people (Los Angeles Times).

State Aid Bill Breezes Into Law
Just hours after winning final House approval, President Barack Obama Tuesday quickly signed into law Tuesday evening a $26.1 billion fiscal aid package to help state and local governments avert a new round of layoffs this fall. Included is $10 billion to preserve teaching jobs in the new school year, and $16.1 billion to help states cover their Medicaid payments for the first six months of 2011 (Politico).

House Approves $26B Bill To Aid States
The House on Tuesday put the final stamp on $26 billion in emergency state aid, agreeing to Senate legislation on a 247-161 vote before bolting town. The vote to help states facing critical budget shortfalls — with $16 billion in Medicaid funding and $10 billion to prevent teacher layoffs — capped an irregular day during a rare mid-recess session (The Hill).

Execs At Health Insurance Giants Cash In As Firms Plan Fee Hikes
The top executives at the nation's five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists (Los Angeles Times).

Nurses Fear Even More ER Assaults As Programs Cut
Emergency room nurse Erin Riley suffered bruises, scratches and a chipped tooth last year from trying to pull the clamped jaws of a psychotic patient off the hand of a doctor at a suburban Cleveland hospital (The Associated Press).

Texas Nurses Fired For Alleging Misconduct Settle Their Suit
Two nurses agreed Tuesday to split a $750,000 payment from Winkler County, Tex., to settle the lawsuit they filed after being fired and criminally prosecuted for reporting allegations of improper medical treatment by a doctor at the county hospital, their lawyer said (The New York Times).

US Sees Drop In Dangerous Hospital Staph Illnesses
Aggressive, drug-resistant staph infections caught in hospitals or from medical treatment are becoming scarcer, another sign of progress in a prevention effort that has become a national public health priority (The Associated Press).

Caritas Sale Opponents Write To Pope
A group of Catholics opposed to the sale of Caritas Christi Health Care to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI yesterday asking him to "call for the cessation of all negotiations with Cerberus."’ Cerberus and Caritas representatives have said they intend to maintain the religious identity of Boston's Catholic health care chain (The Boston Globe).

Advances In Bioscience Cause Terror Fears
Rapid advances in bioscience are raising alarms among terrorism experts that amateur scientists will soon be able to gin up deadly pathogens for nefarious uses (The Wall Street Journal).

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