First Edition: June 16, 2011

In today's headlines, reports about the prospect for Medicaid cutbacks in an emerging bipartisan budget deal, as well as how a report from a Medicare advisory panel may bolster Medicare options currently on the table.

Kaiser Health News: Enthusiasm Rises Among Med Students For Primary Care – The KHN Interview
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold recently spoke with Dr. Andy Bindman, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco medical school (UCSF) and chief of general medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, who says he's seen a significant change in his students' attitudes toward primary care (Gold, 6/15).

Kaiser Health News: Hatch Urges Changes To End Medicaid 'Gulag'
In this Kaiser Health News short take, Juan E. Gastelum reports: "Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, bolstered by the backing of more than two dozen Republican governors, stepped up his push to gain support for relaxing Medicaid's maintenance of effort rules" (Gastelum, 6/15).

Kaiser Health News: Can Exchanges Help Consumers Get Insurance That's A Good Value? Depends On Where You Live. (Guest Opinion)
In her latest Kaiser Health News column, Sabrina Corlette explores the debate and discussion among state policymakers, industry stakeholders and the media about whether exchanges should be "active" or "passive" purchasers of health insurance (6/15).

Kaiser Health News: Built To Fail: Health Insurance Exchanges Under The Affordable Care Act (Guest Opinion)
In this Kaiser Health News column, Paul Howard and Stephen T. Parente write: "The House of Representatives voted last month to repeal funding for the state health-insurance exchanges. ...  The House GOP's vote reflects a grassroots revolt: Republican governors and legislatures from New Mexico to Georgia have also moved to kill or stall legislation establishing exchanges. A better approach might be to rally around the original tenets of the health exchange model" (6/15).

The Associated Press: Medicare Options In Biden Budget Talks Get Boost
As Vice President Joe Biden and congressional negotiators hunt for budget cuts, major Medicare changes that could squeeze billions in savings got a boost Wednesday from a nonpartisan panel of experts that advises lawmakers. Those changes are already under consideration in the budget talks, officials say (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Negotiators Consider Medicaid Cutbacks
The Medicaid program for the poor is facing significant cuts in an emerging bipartisan budget deal as Republicans seek to shrink entitlements and Democrats protect other priorities. Vice President Joe Biden and a group of negotiators from both parties met for the eighth time Wednesday at the Capitol, seeking an agreement that would pave the way for Congress to raise the debt ceiling (Hook and Adamy, 6/16).

The New York Times: As Number Of Medicaid Patients Goes Up, Their Benefits Are About To Drop
The Obama administration injected billions of dollars into Medicaid, the nation's low-income health program, as the recession deepened two years ago. The money runs out at the end of this month, and benefits are being cut for millions of people, even though unemployment has increased (Pear, 6/15).

The New York Times: Children On Medicaid Shown To Wait Longer For Care
Children with Medicaid are far more likely than those with private insurance to be turned away by medical specialists or be made to wait more than a month for an appointment, even for serious medical problems, a new study finds (Grady, 6/15).

Politico: Jon Huntsman's Utah Health Reform Shows Detached Style
As the governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman said he was "comfortable" with the idea of an individual mandate for health insurance and signed a bill requiring his state to study the costs and benefits of one. As a soon-to-declare Republican presidential candidate, Huntsman rails against the individual mandate in the Democrats' health reform overhaul and says he never supported one in Utah (Kliff, 6/15).

The Associated Press: New Lawsuit Filed Against Wisconsin Union Law
Wisconsin state employees will start paying more for their health care and pension benefits in late August, state officials said Wednesday as a coalition of unions filed a new lawsuit against the GOP-supported plan that strips away collective bargaining rights from most public workers. The announcement came a day after the state Supreme Court ruled that a lower court judge overstepped her authority when she voided the governor's polarizing plan to prohibit workers from collectively bargaining over anything except base pay increases no greater than inflation (Bauer, 6/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Some City Unions Balk At Budget Bailout
City Hall's negotiations with New York's municipal unions hit a snag Wednesday after some labor leaders balked at a proposal to offer the city a one-time bailout from a union-controlled health-care fund. … Members of the mayor's administration, along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, had opened negotiations with an umbrella organization of municipal unions about the possibility of tapping the Health Insurance Stabilization Fund to alleviate pressure on the city budget. On Monday, Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, said he received overwhelming support from the group's steering committee to move forward with the negotiations (Saul, 6/15).

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