First Edition: November 12, 2010

Today's headlines include examinations of Medicaid and state budget issues as well as the next round of the congressional health overhaul fight.

States' Woes Spur Medicaid Drop-Out Talk
This story, a collaboration between Kaiser Health News' Marilyn Werber Serafini, the Kaiser Family Foundation's Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow, and  the Texas Tribune's Emily Ramshaw, reports on Medicaid developments: "A week after newly emboldened Republicans in the Texas Legislature floated a radical cost-saving proposal — opting out of the federal Medicaid program — health care experts, economists and think tanks are trying to determine just how serious they are, and if it would even be possible" (Kaiser Health News). The story also appears in The New York Times.

Health Law Expected To Boost Medicaid Enrollees In Managed Care
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "HealthCare USA is one of dozens of private managed health care plans providing care to nearly half the nearly 50 million Americans on Medicaid, a state-federal program for the poor and disabled. That number is increasing. Beginning in 2014, an additional 16 million people will become eligible for Medicaid, under the new health care law. People with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,403 for an individual or $29,326 for a family of four in 2010) will qualify. Currently, eligibility varies greatly by state. In many cases, Medicaid recipients will be required by their home states to enroll in managed-care plans" (Kaiser Health News).

Deficit Panel Pushes Cuts
On Social Security, the plan would gradually raise the retirement age to 68 around 2050 and 69 by 2075. It would combine various cuts to benefits with an increase in taxes on wealthier people's incomes. It would also seek to rein in federal spending on health care beyond what's called for in the recently passed health-care overhaul. This would be achieved by introducing further changes, including reform of medical-malpractice law, and by seeking to slow the growth of the Medicare program (The Wall Street Journal).

News Analysis: Republicans' Hard Line Since Winning House Could Backfire
No bargaining, no deals, no compromise — that's the hard-line stance that Republicans have staked in the days since seizing control of the House. Their prescription for the sluggish economy — lower taxes, huge spending cuts, less regulation, and repeal of the sweeping healthcare law just taking effect — excites the party's conservative base. But a long and ugly fight with President Obama and Senate Democrats, starting with next week's lame-duck session, could end up alienating the large number of Americans more interested in jobs than ideological battles (Los Angeles Times).

Republicans Seek Democratic Allies In Health Care Fight
Newly empowered congressional Republicans plan to chip away at the health care reform law next year – and they're hoping a handful of at-risk or moderate Senate Democrats will help them out (Politico).

Tim Pawlenty Joins Health Bill Suit
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday filed a legal brief seeking to join a multi-state lawsuit  challenging the Obama administration's health care reform law (Politico).

HHS Pressed To Resist Health Insurance Lobbying
Health insurance industry efforts to lobby for weaker federal regulations should be strongly resisted, a consumer advocacy group warned this week (The Hill's Healthwatch Blog).

Flexible Spending Accounts Get Less Flexible
If you're one of the 20 million or so Americans with a flexible spending account for health care, get ready for some changes. Starting Jan. 1, you'll no longer be able to set aside pretax dollars in that account to use for medicines bought without a doctor's prescription (NPR).

MetLife Steps Back From Long-Term Care Market
MetLife Inc. said it will halt sales of long-term-care insurance, a type of coverage that repeatedly has flummoxed insurers and forced some to pay significantly more in claims than they expected (The Wall Street Journal).

Union Rejects Health Care Proposal From NFL
The players union has rejected a proposal from the NFL on long-term care for former players, saying the supplemental policy would exclude too many of them (The Associated Press).

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