First Edition: April 18, 2011

Today's headlines include a report about President Barack Obama's plan to rally support for his deficit reduction plan and to block GOP changes to Medicare and other social programs.

Kaiser Health News Column: Governors' Letter Shows Why Medicaid Block Grants Are Necessary
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Michael Cannon writes that seventeen governors sent a letter to congressional leaders in opposition to a plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to convert Medicaid into a block grant program. But their criticisms fall flat (4/18).

The Washington Post: Obama To Hit Road To Rally Support For Debt Reduction Plan Ahead Of Budget Battles
From Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale to Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, Obama will make a series of campaign-style stops in an effort to block a Republican plan that would reduce the deficit by dramatically changing Medicare and reducing spending on education and other social programs (Goldfarb and Bacon, 4/17).

Politico: President Obama To Ignore 'Czar' Ban
President Barack Obama is planning to ignore language in the 2011 spending package that would ban several top White House advisory posts. House Republicans tacked on language to the contentious spending bill to cut the salaries for four so-called czars — policy advisers appointed to assist the president on health care, climate change, autos and manufacturing, and urban affairs (Bravender, 4/17).

Los Angeles Times: CalPERS Is Negotiating Pharmacy Contract With Firm Being Sued For Defrauding It
The California Public Employees' Retirement System is negotiating a lucrative pharmacy benefits management contract with Caremark Rx Inc., a company being sued for defrauding the pension fund of tens of millions of dollars (Lifsher, 4/16).

Politico: Deval Patrick Extols Mitt Romney's Health Care Law
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney doesn’t dwell on the health care law enacted in Massachusetts when he was governor, but Deval Patrick, the state’s current governor, is more than happy to talk about it (4/17).

Los Angeles Times: Hiring Freeze Ends At State Mental Hospitals
California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said Friday that she is lifting a hiring freeze at the state's troubled mental hospitals amid concerns about rising violence (Romney, 4/15).

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend news coverage, including discussions about Medicare’s future and the Sunday talk show buzz about the budget and efforts to undo the health law

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