First Edition: July 27, 2011

Today's headlines include the latest developments related to efforts to raise the debt ceiling, as well as reports about health policy news from the states.

Kaiser Health News: At Age 46, Is Medicare Ripe For A Change?
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Shefali S. Kulkarni talked to seven experts about what it would take to muster the political will to revamp the popular health care program (Carey and Kulkarni, 7/26).

KHN’s Capsules: Medicare To Examine Quality Of Care At Outpatient Surgery Centers
On the Capsules blog, Jordan Rau reports: "The quality of care at outpatient surgical centers has remained a mystery even as their number has swelled to more than 5,000. But as Medicare moves toward taking quality into account in setting payments, it's going to start looking at the rates of problems at these facilities, formally known as ambulatory surgery centers, or ASCs." Check out the blog.

The New York Times: Vote On Boehner Plan Delayed Amid Opposition
House Republican leaders were forced on Tuesday night to delay a vote scheduled on their plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, as conservative lawmakers expressed skepticism and Congressional budget officials said the plan did not deliver the promised savings (Steinhauer and Hulse, 7/26).

Los Angeles Times: Republican Debt Plan Struggles In House
Boehner's challenge arrived at a pivotal moment for both the Republican Party and the country, after months of political deadlock. Just days remain before the federal government hits the $14.3-trillion limit on how much it can borrow, after which it could be unable to pay all of its bills and obligations. In proposing their own plan, House Republicans aimed to demonstrate that they could lead the nation away from the brink of economic disaster. But on Tuesday, they largely showed off the deep divisions that have dogged the GOP and Boehner's leadership all year (Mascaro and Hennessey, 7/27).

The Washington Post: Ads By Christian Groups Pressure Lawmakers To Protect The Poor In Debt Talks
The group is responding to the heated battle between congressional Republicans and the White House over raising the country's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which must be lifted before Aug. 2 or else the nation will go into default. Republicans seek drastic spending cuts and major reform of entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security; Democrats want new revenue along with decreased spending (Wallsten, 7/26).

The Washington Post: Obama's '70 Million Checks' Per Month: Actually, It's Even More Than That
That works out to 27 payments per second, day after day — not just to the expected recipients, such as contractors, federal workers and Social Security beneficiaries, but also to those you might not think of, such as the victims of black lung disease and their widows (50,032 checks in June), and pensioners supported by the Railroad Retirement Board (613,912). … In addition to those receiving the 70 million checks, there are many more who benefit from give-backs in the tax code, such as credits and deductions for mortgage interest, retirement savings and employer-provided health coverage. Studies have shown that these beneficiaries are far less likely than the recipients of actual checks to be aware of the perks they are getting (MacGillis, 7/26).

The Wall Street Journal: New Report Is Setback For 9/11 Responders
Medical research cannot yet prove that working at the World Trade Center disaster site increased the risk of cancer for first-responders, a federal health official concluded on Tuesday. The decision was a disappointment for advocates who are attempting to convince those in charge of a new compensation fund to pay Ground Zero workers if they develop certain forms of cancers (Barrett, 7/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Two Drugstores Accused Of Fraud In Medicare Bills
With a blue awning with the Russian word for pharmacy written on it and a sign hung in the window declaring "We Accept All Medicare Part D Plans," Monica's looks like a typical mom-and-pop Brooklyn drugstore. But federal authorities say that this innocuous-appearing store is by far the busiest pharmacy in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn—at least on paper—when it comes to filing Medicare Part D drug-prescription claims (Gardiner, 7/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Home Health Policy Shift Roils Albany
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's effort to overhaul New York state's $6 billion home health-care industry is coming under scrutiny from patient advocates and other industry players who say the administration is bowing to the interests of large, politically connected providers (Gershman, 7/26).

The Associated Press: Ohio Health Care Question Cleared For Fall Ballot
Voters will get the chance to decide whether Ohio can opt out of the national health care overhaul after the state's top election official said Tuesday that opponents of the federal law have enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot (Brownfield, 7/26).

Los Angeles Times: Brown Approves $600,000 Settlement In Chiropractor Board Firing
The former executive director of the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners will receive $600,000 to settle a claim that she was harassed and fired for helping prosecutors investigate fraud in the industry.  Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill authorizing the settlement,  under which the state did not admit any wrongdoing (McGreevy, 7/27).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.