First Edition: August 8, 2012

Today's headlines include a variety of stories that reflect how health policy issues are playing on the campaign trail.

Kaiser Health News:  Q & A: Does My Travel Insurance Have Me Covered (Video)
In her latest Kaiser Health News video, Insuring Your Health columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader's question about travel insurance (8/7).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Group Health's 'Learning Health System' Keeps Innovations Moving; Four Want To Be Wash. State Insurance Commissioner 
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Sarah Barr reports on Group Health's effort to make sure medical innovations are put to use: "They've adopted a strategy known as a "learning health system," which creates a feedback loop of sorts between the system's medical and research sides, including the Group Health Research Institute. In broad terms, researchers help doctors evaluate new ways of providing care, and doctors suggest areas where research is needed — meaning evidence and practice exist in a cycle" (Barr, 8/7).

Also on the blog, KUOW's Ruby de Luna, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, writes about the Washington state race for insurance commissioner: "Voters in Washington will be filling out their Vote-by-Mail ballots Tuesday, and they will have a chance to do something that voters in just 10 other states do: elect an insurance commissioner. The primary field this year includes four candidates, and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, will face each other in the general election" (de Luna, 8/7). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Wall Street Journal: Puzzling Over What To Call State Insurance Exchanges
Health-insurance exchanges are a central part of the Obama administration's health overhaul, serving as marketplaces for people to shop for coverage. But states trying to set them up are finding many people don't know what an exchange is and don't necessarily like the sound of it. … The word exchange "raises some suspicions of loopholes and fine print" and "implies current coverage may needed to be traded for something else," wrote communications company GMMB in a presentation to the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange. Part of the problem, GMMB said, was that the word was "perceived as a verb and unfamiliar as a noun" and reminded people of the New York Stock Exchange or military exchange stores (Radnofsky, 8/7).

Politico: Papa John's: 'Obamacare' Will Raise Pizza Prices
Pizza chain Papa John's told shareholders that President Obama's health care law will cost consumers more on their pizza. On a conference call last week, CEO and founder John Schnatter (a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser) said the health care law's changes — set to go into effect in 2014 — will result in higher costs for the company — which they vowed to pass onto consumers (Tau, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Washington Sounds The Sequester Alarm: How Much Would Be Cut And When
Q: What programs would be spared? A: Social Security, Medicaid, supplemental security income, refundable tax credits, the children's health insurance program, the food stamp program and veterans' benefits. The White House said last week that President Barack Obama would exempt military personnel from the cuts. Q: What about Medicare? A: The government-run health care program for seniors would face a 2 percent cut in Medicare payments to providers and insurance plans. That works out to a reduction of $11 billion next year (8/8).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama And Romney Make Play For Female Voters, Working-Class Americans In Campaign Pitches
Romney's team thrust welfare into the campaign with an ad claiming that Obama planned to dole out taxpayer dollars to anyone, even those not trying to find work. For his part, Obama was set to appear Wednesday with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University student who became a flashpoint for women's health and, by proxy, abortion rights (8/8).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Contraception Policy Advocate To Introduce Obama
President Barack Obama will draw fresh attention to his administration’s decision to require most employers to offer free contraceptive coverage, when he's introduced in Denver Wednesday by Sandra Fluke, the young woman who came to prominence for supporting that policy (Meckler, 8/7).

Politico: Paul Ryan Veep Prospects Split GOP
As Mitt Romney's vice presidential selection nears and buzz about Rep. Paul Ryan's prospects builds, a split is emerging among Republicans about whether the choice of the House Budget chairman and architect of the party's controversial tax and spending plan would be a daring plus for the ticket or a miscalculation that would turn a close election into a referendum on Medicare (Martin, Sherman and Haberman, 8/8).

Los Angeles Times: Romney's Potential Running Mate: Paul Ryan
By naming Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney would be gambling that he can buttress the Republican ticket's standing on the economy while suffering no harm from the Wisconsin congressman's controversial plan to curb spending on such popular programs as Medicare (Finnegan, 8/7).

Los Angeles Times: One Man's Anti-Romney Story, In Part
In an inflammatory new television spot, the pro-Obama "super PAC" Priorities USA Action attempts to link the closing of a Bain Capital-owned steel mill to the death of a wife of one of the former steelworkers, who lost his health insurance when he was laid off. … Meanwhile, CNN reported Tuesday that after Joe Soptic lost his job at the steel mill, his wife continued to have her own health insurance for a few years through her job at a local thrift store (Gold, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Cardinal Suing Obama Invites Him, Romney To Dinner
The Archdiocese of New York is among more than 40 Catholic organizations, charities and schools that are suing over Obama's mandate that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control. Evangelical, Jewish and other religious leaders have joined U.S. bishops in pressing for a broader religious exemption, including for faith-affiliated hospitals, colleges and social service groups. As the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan has said the White House policy is "strangling" the church. Obama has offered an accommodation, but Catholic leaders and others have said the changes don't go far enough. The Smith dinner, in its 67th year, is a white-tie event at the Waldorf-Astoria that is customarily attended by presidents and candidates in an election year (8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Conservatives Score Big In Kansas Primaries, Ousting Moderate State Senate Incumbents
Some GOP voters transferred their ongoing frustration with Democratic President Barack Obama and the federal health care law he championed to moderate GOP state senators. Some wanted the Senate to be more conservative and more in line with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the state House’s right-leaning majority (8/8).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: CVS Caremark’s 2nd-Quarter Profit Climbs 18 Percent; Outlook Rises For Drugstore Chain, PBM
CVS Caremark Corp.'s second-quarter net income jumped 18.4 percent, as its drugstores took business from rival Walgreen and an expansion of its pharmacy benefits management segment pushed revenue higher (8/7).

The Wall Street Journal’s Deal Journal: WellPoint Mostly Alone In Amerigroup Hunt
Ever since WellPoint announced plans to buy Medicaid insurer Amerigroup for $4.46 billion last month, analysts have wondered whether other big managed-care firms were also bidders (Kamp, 8/7).

The New York Times: Corporate Fraud Cases Often Spare Individuals
Pharmaceutical companies, military contractors, banks and other corporations are on track to pay as much as $8 billion this year to resolve charges of defrauding the government, analysts say — a record sum and more than twice the amount assessed last year by the Justice Department (Schmidt and Wyatt, 8/7).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.