First Edition: January 26, 2011

Today's headlines detail how health policy fit into the President's State of the Union address.

Kaiser Health News: Health Industry And Lawmakers Move Against Medicare Spending Board
Reporting for KHN, in collaboration with Politico, Bara Vaida writes: "Lobbyists for doctors, hospitals and drug companies are urging lawmakers to derail a planned government panel that health industry officials fear will sharply curb Medicare spending -- a critical revenue source for them" (Vaida, 1/26).

Kaiser Health News: Text: Health-Related Passages Of President Barack Obama's State Of The Union Address And The Republican Response
In his State of the Union message, the president also said he's "not willing ... to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition" (1/25).

Kaiser Health News: Meet Two 'Ordinary Americans' Recruited By Obama For State Of The Union
KHN staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "And now, a word from the health care 'Skutniks.' … Given that President Barack Obama’s health care law is under attack from congressional Republicans, it's not surprising this year's speech features two health care Skutniks – people who benefited from the new law" (Galewitz, 1/25).

Kaiser Health News: Public Doesn't Support Cuts To Health Care Programs
KHN staff writer Aimee Miles reports: "As Washington lawmakers face renewed pressure to remedy the country's trillion-dollar budget deficit, fractured public opinion on where to make critical cuts—in health care and other major entitlement programs—could complicate political strategies in the run up to the 2012 presidential election, according to researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health" (Miles, 1/25).

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines
KHN staff writers Phil Galewitz and Lexie Verdon updated this explainer: "A day after voting to repeal the federal health law, a group of more than 60 House Republicans introduced a bill reviving an idea long popular with conservatives: allowing consumers to buy health insurance across state lines so that residents of a state with expensive health plans could find cheaper options" (Galewitz and Verdon, 1/25)

Los Angeles Times: Democrats Attack Rep. Paul Ryan's Views On Medicaid, Social Security
Senate Democrats on Tuesday launched a preemptive strike on Rep. Paul Ryan, who will deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address (Oliphant, 1/25).

Politico: Health Gets Little Time, Big Reaction
President Barack Obama made two things clear about health care in his State of the Union speech: he is willing to change it around the edges and he is ready to put it in the rearview mirror. "Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward," Obama said (Nather, 1/26).

Los Angeles Times: State Of The Union: Obama Says U.S. Acts 'Together, Or Not At All'
Obama's hourlong address Tuesday night sought to repel Republican efforts to roll back his party's signature legislative achievements, including the healthcare overhaul, during the next two years (Parsons and Nicholas, 1/25).

Los Angeles Times: State Of The Union: Republicans Say It's Business As Usual
Republicans dismissed President Obama's State of the Union address as more of the same, saying his call for renewed investment in American education, infrastructure and technology was simply a push for another round of federal spending that shows little commitment to reducing the deficit (Oliphant and Memoli, 1/25).

The Washington Post: Obama Challenges The Nation – And Republicans
Obama tried to project a new spirit of bipartisanship. He salted the speech with ideas that Republicans could easily agree with, such as lowering the corporate tax rate, ending earmarks and taking on medical malpractice reform. But there were also many things with which Republicans will take issue (Balz, 1/25).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Obama's 2011 State Of The Union Address
Since his time in the Senate, President Obama has favored certain ways of trying to lower costs related to malpractice (1/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Journal Files Suit To Open Medicare Database
The publisher of The Wall Street Journal filed suit Tuesday to overturn a decades-long court order barring public access to a confidential Medicare database it says is essential to rooting out fraud and abuse in the government health-care program. The American Medical Association, the doctors' trade group, successfully sued the government in 1979 to keep secret how much money individual doctors receive from Medicare, and the ruling still stands (Adams, 1/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Firms Push For Biotech Generics
A battle is heating up over the meaning of a single word in the health overhaul that could mean billions of dollars to the makers of biotechnology drugs (Mundy, 1/26).

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: Kaiser Poll: Mixed Feelings On Health Law But Opposition To Defunding
Americans are still pretty polarized in their views of the health-care overhaul law passed last year, including whether to repeal it. But a majority oppose the notion of defunding the law’s provisions in order to neuter it, a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health finds (Hobson, 1/25).

The New York Times: For A Medicaid Cost-Cutter From Wisconsin, A More Complicated Job In New York
Wisconsin is not New York, where Mr. Helgerson, 39, now has the task of reining in the state’s troubled Medicaid program. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recruited him to find billions of dollars in savings to help close the state’s more than $9 billion budget gap in the next fiscal year (Kaplan, 1/25).

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