First Edition: January 12, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about how the congressional health debate might proceed in the wake of last weekend's violence and more details on New York's Medicaid challenges.

Kaiser Health News: Federal Funds Allowed States To Maintain Health Care For Poor Children
Reporting For Kaiser Health News, Aimee Miles writes: "Even as states grappled with crippling budget deficits and the political fallout of the deeply divisive health care overhaul, they maintained high rates of coverage for children in low-income families—thanks to enhanced federal Medicaid funding" (Miles, 1/11).

Kaiser Health News: First Person: Primary Care A Compelling Mission For Harvard Medical School Student
As part of an occasional KHN series, First Person, Ishani Ganguli writes that medical school students like her have the opportunity to help the health care system by choosing to become primary care physicians (Ganguli, 1/12).

Kaiser Health News column: The CBO Is Telling Us Something. Is Anybody Listening?
In his latest KHN column, Austin Frakt writes: "The Congressional Budget Office's budgetary scoring of the health reform law has returned as a subject of debate. At issue is whether health reform will really reduce the deficit by $143 billion through 2019 as the CBO predicted last year. It's a legitimate question, but focusing on it misses the most important message conveyed by CBO estimates" (1/11).

Politico: Tragedy May Soften Health Debate
When the House returns to the debate over repealing health care reform, the rhetoric most likely will be softer — but the lines of division are expected to be as hard as ever. The House is expected to return to Washington next week to a more subdued debate on repealing the health care reform law than it probably would have had a few weeks ago (Budoff Brown and Haberkorn, 1/12).

The New York Times: For Boehner, Rampage Imposes Own Agenda
Before the attack, the highest priority of House Republicans was their drive to repeal the health care overhaul passed last year. The repeal effort had led to some of the divisive discourse that is now under scrutiny. After news of the shootings reached Washington, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, quickly moved to postpone a vote on overturning the health care law, which had been scheduled for Wednesday. Mr. Boehner made it clear on Tuesday that Congress would soon get back to work (Hulse, 1/11).

Los Angeles Times: California Insurance Chief Expands Inquiry Into Healthcare Rate Hikes
California's new insurance commissioner has expanded his inquiry into rate hikes by major insurers, calling on them to delay pending increases for 60 days while he examines paperwork submitted to his office (Helfand, 1/12).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Safety Nets Kept Intact With Help From Washington
Bolstered by billions of dollars in aid from Washington, states managed to hold their healthcare safety nets together last year despite the fallout from the recession, a new survey shows (Levey, 1/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Cost-Cut Model May Be Flawed
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to redesign and shrink the state's Medicaid program by copying a cost-cutting model used in Wisconsin. A review of Wisconsin's efforts to contain Medicaid spending, however, shows little evidence of savings (Gershman, 1/12).

The New York Times: U.S. Says New York City Overbilled Medicaid
The federal government has accused New York City of overbilling Medicaid by "at least tens of millions of dollars" by improperly approving 24-hour home care for thousands of patients (Hartocollis, 1/11).

The Wall Street Journal: Tenet Girds Against Community Health Systems
Tenet Healthcare Corp. made a new case Tuesday for why a bid from Community Health Systems Inc. falls short of its value, arguing that improving patient volume trends, benefits from the health-care overhaul law and existing strategic initiatives will generate strong growth (Mathews, 1/12).

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