First Edition: March 3, 2011

Today's headlines highlight the difficulties lawmakers will face in finding a compromise on long-term budget issues, such as Medicare and Medicaid spending.   

Kaiser Health News: Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Court Challenges
Kaiser Health News reporter Bara Vaida is tracking the status of 22 cases. She writes: "All over the country, lawsuits challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are working their way through the federal courts" (Vaida, 3/2).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: GOP Governors Seek To Modify Medicaid Programs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with KFF's Jackie Judd about the latest action on Capitol Hill. "Republican governors are asking Washington for more flexibility regarding how they run their Medicaid programs, saying that Washington puts too many restraints on states. Separately, the House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation that would repeal a provision in the health law that would require businesses to submit a 1099 form to the Internal Revenue Service for any goods or services over $600" (3/2). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News Column: Fixing America's Health Care Reimbursement System
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Brian Klepper writes: "A tempest is brewing in physician circles over how doctors are paid. But calming it will require more than just the action of physicians. It will demand the attention and influence of businesses and patient advocates who, outside the health industrial complex, bear the brunt of the nation's skyrocketing health care costs" (3/3).

The New York Times: Obama Signs Two-Week Budget Extension
Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday urged Republicans to come to the bargaining table to work out a deal to finance the government through Sept. 30 and perhaps go beyond the immediate fiscal issues to take on larger budgetary questions about spending on entitlement programs like Medicare and an increase in the debt limit  (Hulse, 3/2).

The Washington Post: Obama Invites Congressional Leaders To Meet With Biden On Budget
President Obama on Wednesday intervened in a partisan brawl that threatens to shut down the government, inviting congressional leaders of both parties to sit down with Vice President Biden and work out a compromise to fund federal programs through the end of the fiscal year (Murray and Montgomery, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Poll Shows Budget-Cuts Dilemma
Less than a quarter of Americans support making significant cuts to Social Security or Medicare to tackle the country's mounting deficit, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, illustrating the challenge facing lawmakers who want voter buy-in to alter entitlement programs (King and Greenberg, 3/3).

Politico: GAO: Medicare Losing $48 Billion
Nearly 10 percent of all Medicare payments are fraudulent or otherwise improper, and the government isn't doing enough to stop them. That's the conclusion of a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday (Coughlin, 3/2).

Politico: Paul Ryan Accuses W.H. Of Skirting Medicare Law
House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is continuing to press the White House to take on entitlements, this time accusing President Obama of failing to follow a provision of a Medicare law (Cohen, 3/2).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Haley Barbour's Medicaid Fantasy
Haley Barbour's colorful remark, made to The Washington Post while attending a National Governors Association meeting in Washington this week, recalls Ronald Reagan's description of a "welfare queen" living high on government largess, driving a Cadillac. In Reagan's telling, she bilked the government out of $150,000, when the actual case involved $8,000. … Let's see if there is any basis for Barbour's claim (Kessler, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Bills Push Medicare Data Access
Two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, are pushing legislation to overturn a 1979 court injunction that bars the public from seeing what individual physicians earn from Medicare. That data, commonly known as the Medicare claims database, is widely considered one of the best tools for identifying fraud and abuse in the $500 billion federal health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled (Tamman and Schoofs, 3/3).

The Hill: Bipartisan Senate Duo Wants Medicare To Make Payments To Doctors Public
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are collaborating on legislation to require the federal government to make public how much it pays doctors who participate in Medicare, a Senate staffer said (Pecquet, 3/2).

The New York Times: Study Finds Criminal Pasts Of Nursing Home Workers
More than 90 percent of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of at least one crime, federal investigators said Wednesday in a new report. In addition, they said, 5 percent of all nursing home employees have at least one criminal conviction (Pear, 3/2).

The New York Times: Proposed Malpractice Limits Face A Fight In Albany
Last week, hospital leaders stood alongside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Capitol, pledging their support for billions in cuts proposed by his Medicaid redesign team. This week, they paid for full-page advertisements in newspapers around the state, putting their approval in writing (Kaplan, 3/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Abortion Disclosure Bill Passes
The City Council approved legislation on Wednesday requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose whether they perform abortions, setting the stage for a legal battle with abortion-rights opponents who denounced the bill as a violation of their First Amendment rights (Saul, 3/3).

Los Angeles Times: 10 Hospitalized Prisoners To Get Prompt Hearings Under Medical Parole Law, Receiver Says
Ten of California's sickest and most costly inmates — some are in comas, some are paralyzed — will be promptly scheduled for parole hearings, corrections authorities announced Wednesday (3/3).

Los Angeles Times: Jerry Brown Taps Trusted Former Aide For Key Cabinet Position
More than 30 years later, he has chosen Dooley for another pretty tough job: secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency. In Dooley, who spent her time between Brown administrations as a law student, attorney, fire chief and children's health advocate, he has a trusted confidant to oversee one of the largest and most important agencies of the state while he focuses on the budget (York, 3/3).

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