First Edition: March 2, 2011

Today's headlines include reports about how, at a Capitol Hill hearing, some governors switched gears away from the flexibility issue to focus on their need for "immediate relief" from Medicaid's fiscal pressure.

Kaiser Health News: Ariz. Medicaid Cuts Spur Debate Over Impact On Providers
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Arizona's plan to cut about a quarter million adults from Medicaid would lead to uninsured patients crowding emergency rooms, hospitals slashing services and laying off thousands of workers and health plans increasing premiums to make up for lost revenue, health providers say. Arizona Republicans and conservative groups backing the move say there will be some pain but the impact will not be that dramatic" (Galewitz, 3/1).

Kaiser Health News: Miss. Gov. Barbour: 'We Shouldn't Have to Kowtow' To Feds On Medicaid Rules
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: "The disagreement between the Obama administration and Republican governors over how much say the federal government should have over Medicaid spending escalated again today. At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Gov. Haley Barbour made it clear that he wants control over how to spend Mississippi's Medicaid money" (Carey, 3/1).

Kaiser Health News Column: A Message To Health Law Critics: It's Not About A Lack Of Flexibility
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Jonathan Cohn writes about the response by conservative critics to President Obama's move to support giving governors some flexibility in implementing the health law's mandates. When it comes to Obama's proposal, some have a point: "It wouldn't allow them to enact the sorts of health care reforms they would prefer. But that's because their proposals wouldn't come even close to making health care affordable for all Americans. The real problem here, in other words, isn't the lack of flexibility in the health law. It's the lack of workable ideas from critics on the right" (3/1).

The New York Times: Governors Seek Help On Medicaid Costs
Governors told Congress on Tuesday that President Obama had not gone far enough in proposing to let states opt out of major provisions of the new health care law in 2014, and they said they needed more immediate relief from the growing financial burden of Medicaid (Pear, 3/1).

The Washington Post: Republicans Shift Focus To Medicaid Complaints
A day after President Obama said he would support amending the health-care law so states can opt out of key provisions sooner, Republicans sought to shift the rhetorical battle back to an issue that would be largely unaffected by the president's proposal: the impact of the law's Medicaid requirements on state budgets (Aizenman, 2/1).

Politico: Barbour Bashes Romney Health Plan
Add Haley Barbour to the list of presidential contenders who have gone after Mitt Romney over RomneyCare. On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Barbour said Massachusetts had a state insurance plan it liked — and that his state, Mississippi, had no interest in it (Hunt, 3/2).

The New York Times: Feeling Budget Pinch, States Cut Insurance
Ken Kewley woke up Tuesday without health insurance for the first time in nearly nine years. So did most of the 41,467 other Pennsylvanians who had been covered by adultBasic, a state-subsidized insurance program for the working poor that Gov. Tom Corbett shut down on Monday in one of the largest disenrollments in recent memory (Sack, 3/1).

Los Angeles Times: Despite Medical Parole Law, Hospitalized Prisoners Are Costing Taxpayers Millions
Authorities have identified 25 "permanently medically incapacitated" inmates being treated at outside hospitals who are candidates for parole because they no longer pose a threat to the public. Californians will pay more than $50 million to treat them this year, between $19 million and $21 million of that for guards' salaries, benefits and overtime, according to data from the federal receiver who oversees California prison healthcare (Dolan, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Wisconsin Governor Seeks Deep Cuts
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed a two-year budget Tuesday cutting more than $1.25 billion in state aid to schools and local governments, part of a broad proposed reduction in state spending of nearly 7%. …  Democratic Rep. Tamara Grigsby, a member of the legislature's joint finance committee, said Mr. Walker's budget represented "an absolute annihilation of education in this state. There's going to be an absolute decimation of health care" (Merrick and Maher, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: EU Backs Avastin For Breast Cancer
The committee's decision stands in stark contrast to the recent verdict by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is wary of Avastin's benefits for breast-cancer patients. While the FDA plans to revoke approval of Avastin, the U.S. regulator has granted Roche a hearing later this year, though analysts say the Swiss drug maker is unlikely to change the U.S. watchdog's views (Mijuk, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: EU Closes Insurers' Gender Rate Gap
The European Union's highest court declared illegal the widespread practice of charging men and women different rates for insurance, setting in motion an overhaul of how life, auto and health policies are written across Europe (Forelle and Scism, 3/2).

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