First Edition: April 12, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about Massachusetts' health reform's sixth birthday.

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Navigating Options For Long-Term Care (Video)
This Kaiser Health News video  discusses the many restrictions on purchasing long term care insurance. KHN’s consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader question about other options (4/11). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Defunding
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, KUHF's Carrie Feibel, working in collaboration with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Planned Parenthood branches across Texas have filed a federal lawsuit to prevent Gov. Rick Perry's administration from excluding them from a women's health program. A month ago, Texas was dropped from a federal program that helps subsidize contraception and reproductive check-ups for poor women. Even though the program has nothing to do with abortion, Perry wanted to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from participating" (Feibel, 4/11).

Also on the blog, KCUR's Elana Gordon, also in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "But times have changed, and now other hospitals interested in replacing fast food with more healthful options may find it isn’t as easy as it seems. In Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic tried in vain to terminate its contract early with McDonald’s 10 years ago. At the time, the clinic’s lead heart surgeon (and now hospital CEO), Delos Cosgove, proposed removing all fast food vendors" (4/12).
Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post: 'Buffet Rule' Vs. Ryan Plan: Who Should Chip In More
The great moral debate of the 2012 campaign is turning out to be as inspiring as drunks arguing over a bar tab. The basic argument is this: "Who's not paying their fair share?" Democrats have pointed the finger at millionaires, and this week, President Obama is pushing, again, for the "Buffett Rule" — which would require those who make more than $1 million per year to pay a bigger portion of the country's taxes. … Republicans have turned to people who use Medicare and Medicaid. A new proposal from GOP budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), praised by presidential- nominee-to-be Mitt Romney, would shrink the government spending on these programs. People who use them would have to pay a greater share, to keep the programs solvent. Either way, somebody pays more, but these passionate debates are unlikely to produce any detailed plan for fixing the deficit (Fahrenthold and Nakamura, 4/11).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: 'Obamacare' Or The GOP: Which Would Throw Granny Off A Cliff?
This ad parodies a previous video from The Agenda Project, which ran a similar spot suggesting that Republicans were trying to end Medicare and privatize it with a proposal from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Our colleagues at FlackCheck.org ran a film-noir parody covering both of these commercials (Hicks, 4/11).

The Washington Post: Romney's Ambitious Agenda For First Day In Office Wouldn't Be Easy To Achieve
It’s Jan. 20, 2013. This is the agenda for President Romney's first day in office: … Allow states to escape parts of the health-care law (if it still exists). … A big list for day one (or two or three) is something of a campaign tradition, a way to underline your priorities and show where your predecessor went astray (Fahrenthold, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: As 2012 Campaign Transitions, Biden Embraces Task Of Scuffing Up Likely GOP Nominee Romney
In the past few weeks, the Democratic vice president has branded presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney "consistently wrong," "uninformed" on foreign policy, someone aiming to "end Medicare as we know it" and an advocate of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class (4/12).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Romney Faces Heat On Birthday Of Massachusetts Health Law
The state's Democratic governor on Wednesday celebrated the sixth birthday of the Massachusetts health-care law — and took some jabs at its creator, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney. The ceremony at historic Faneuil Hall was in the spot where Mr. Romney signed the legislation into law in April 2006 when he was governor of the state. He has promised to repeal the national version of the legislation. … Mr. Romney has said that he believes the federal requirement to do this is unconstitutional (Levitz and Radnofsky, 4/11).

The New York Times: Massachusetts Health Law Is Celebrated, With A Poke At Romney
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, needless to say, did not attend. But at a sixth-anniversary celebration of Massachusetts' landmark health care law on Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, pointedly said his predecessor should be proud of the law, which has been a hot potato for Mr. Romney on the Republican presidential campaign trail (Goodnough, 4/11).

Politico: Romney's Health Care Law Gets Awkward Birthday Party
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick marked the state's landmark health care reform law Wednesday with a ceremony at Faneuil Hall — the same place where Mitt Romney signed the bill almost six years ago, long before the state's reform became the model for the federal reform reviled by conservatives. The actual anniversary is Thursday (Millman, 4/11).

The New York Times: J&J Fined $1.2 Billion In Drug Case
A judge in Arkansas ordered Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary to pay more than $1.2 billion in fines on Wednesday, a day after a jury found that the companies had minimized or concealed the dangers associated with an antipsychotic drug (Thomas, 4/11).

Los Angeles Times: Companies Belittled Risks Of Risperdal, Slapped With Huge Fine
In a verbal ruling from the bench, Circuit Judge Tim Fox held that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. committed nearly 240,000 violations of the state's Medicaid fraud law — one for each Risperdal prescription issued to state Medicaid patients over a 3 1/2-year period. Each violation carried a $5,000 fine. He also fined the companies $11 million for more than 4,500 violations of the state’s deceptive practices laws (Muskal, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: Arkansas Judge Fines J&J $1.1 Billion In Risperdal Case
Atty. Gen. Dustin McDaniel said the ruling "sends a clear signal that big drug companies like Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals cannot lie to the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), patients and doctors in order to defraud Arkansas taxpayers of our Medicaid dollars." Janssen issued a statement in which it said, "We are disappointed with the judge's decision on penalties. If our motion for a new trial is denied, we will appeal" (4/11).

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Orders J&J To Pay $1.2 Billion
The Arkansas penalty is the largest to date in a series of state legal cases accusing J&J of improperly marketing Risperdal, which was once J&J's top-selling drug before generic copycats hit the market (Loftus, 4/11).

The New York Times: Vital Signs By Phone, Then, With A Click, A Doctor's Appointment
If ever an industry were ready for disruption, it is the American health care industry. Americans spend about $7,600 a year per person on health care, one in two adults lives with a chronic disease and the average wait time to see a doctor in a metropolitan area is 20 days. Entrepreneurs have responded by starting health care technology companies that are changing the way we interact with the entire system (Zimmerman, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Planned Parenthood Sues After Texas Excludes Group From State's Women's Health Program
Eight Planned Parenthood organizations sued Texas on Wednesday for excluding them from participating in a program that provides contraception and check-ups to women, saying the new rule violates their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association (4/11).

Los Angeles Times: California Workers' Comp Overhaul Effort Is Stirring
The two biggest players in California's workers' compensation system — labor unions and large employers — are quietly crafting the biggest overhaul of the mandatory insurance program in a decade. The goal: provide more care to injured workers without raising premiums for businesses (Lifsher, 4/12).

The New York Times: At St. Jude, Firing Back At Critics
As St. Jude Medical defends itself against reports of deaths and injuries linked to problems with an implanted heart device, it finds itself in familiar territory. Since 2005, two competitors, Medtronic and Guidant, have faced similar scrutiny about critical flaws in their products (Meier and Thomas, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Auditors Cite Medical Insurance Overpayments
State auditors say the New York State Health Insurance Program erroneously paid up to $11 million for special items like implants, drugs and evaluation procedures for public employees that were not provided. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says Wednesday the two audits show contract insurers Blue Cross and Blue Shield and United Health Care failed to effectively monitor bills, with one showing Empire overpayments in 57 percent of claims reviewed and another showing 12 percent of United payments for special patient evaluations were unwarranted (4/11).

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