First Edition: January 31, 2012

In today's headlines, a report about Democratic expectations regarding the soon to be unveiled GOP budget and how it might reform Medicare.  

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: People In State High-Risk Insurance Plans Often Feel Left Behind
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "The 2010 health-care overhaul creates state-based health plans for those who have medical conditions that make them uninsurable in the private market. These 'preexisting-condition insurance plans' (PCIPs) are intended to act as a bridge until 2014, when insurers will no longer be able to refuse to cover people with medical problems or charge them more than other consumers. As of November, about 45,000 people had signed up for those plans, far fewer than the up to 400,000 that was originally projected" (Andrews, 1/30).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Dream Of A Medical 'Price List' Dies In Florida Legislature
Now on the blog, Sara Barr writes: "While a Florida state House committee approved legislation that would expand the state’s requirement that certain providers post the out-of-pocket prices of common health care services, a state Senate committee shot down a similar measure after an aggressive lobbying push by health care provider groups" (Barr, 1/30). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Democrats In Congress Step Up Tax-The-Rich Efforts
But after a year in which a tea-party-driven Republican Party proposed steep cuts to Medicare and other mainstays of the federal government, polls show that voters have reacted in part by taking a second look at the alternative: tapping corporations and non-earned income as a way to begin balancing the nation's debt-ridden books (Mascaro, 1/30).

Politico: Paul Ryan Budget: Democrats Await New Proposal
Democrats are licking their chops over the idea of another Republican budget that attempts to dramatically reform the Medicare program. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has indicated that his budget will address Medicare and could include the revised plan he crafted with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Under their plan, seniors would get "premium support" to help them buy private insurance coverage or traditional Medicare (Haberkorn, 1/30).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Romney Makes Final Pitch To Seniors Before Florida Vote
In his last campaign stop before results of Florida's presidential primary start rolling in Tuesday night, Mitt Romney led a crowd of senior citizens in singing "America the Beautiful." Before breaking into song, Mr. Romney dealt with some substantive matters. "I understand a few of you here are on Medicare," Mr. Romney joked. "That being the case, I hope you tell your friends…we will never go after Medicare or Social Security" (Murray, 1/30).

Politico: How 'Obamacare' Changes 'Romneycare'
It’s something supporters of President Barack Obama's health reform law will say again and again: The health care overhaul put into place in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney is the big (but smaller) sister of the federal law. His rivals for the Republican presidential nomination like to say it, too. But that doesn't mean Romney's law gets to stay just like it was just because it got there first. It still has to conform to the federal law, and that won’t exactly be an easy lift (Nocera, 1/30).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Gingrich’s Day 1 Agenda: Repeal Health Care, Eliminate New Financial Rules And Fire The Czars
To hear Newt Gingrich tell it, the dramatic conservative change he promises will begin even before he is sworn in as president in 2013. "My goal would be by the end of that first day, about the time that President Obama arrives back in Chicago, that we will have dismantled about 40 percent of his government," he tells audiences. Obama's health care bill? Repealed (1/30).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Gingrich Vows To Overturn 'Anti-Religious' Policies
Newt Gingrich stepped up his attack against President Barack Obama as he campaigned in Florida Monday, accusing the Democratic administration of declaring a "war against Christianity" with a new regulation requiring employers to cover birth control in their health policies (Radnofsky, 1/30).

Los Angeles Times: Romney And Gingrich Stage Final Bitter Blitz In Florida
At an airport rally in Tampa, Gingrich opened a new front against Romney, accusing him of waging a war on religion — a charge he has repeatedly leveled against Obama. "Romney imposed on Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts a position against their conscience," Gingrich said, suggesting that religious organizations, under some circumstances, were forced to provide reproductive care that conflicts with their faith. He also accused Romney of cutting off kosher meals for Jewish seniors as a way to trim Medicaid costs (Reston and Mehta, 1/31).

Los Angeles Times: Contraceptive Mandate Could Face Tough Sledding In Supreme Court
The Supreme Court and the Obama administration, already headed for a face-off in March over the constitutionality of the healthcare law, appear to be on another collision course over whether church-run schools, universities, hospitals and charities must provide free contraceptives to their students and employees (Savage, 1/30).

Chicago Tribune: Making The Burden Of Childhood Obesity All The More Heavy
When a Georgia health care organization recently launched a series of childhood anti-obesity ads, they had no idea they'd be accused of attacking rather than advocating for kids (Miller Rubin, 1/31).

The Wall Street Journal: J&J Shakes Up McNeil Unit Again
Johnson & Johnson is shaking up oversight of the troubled unit that makes Tylenol and other over-the-counter medicines once again, naming new leadership less than a year after manufacturing problems sparked a revamp (Rockoff and Lublin, 1/31).

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