First Edition: July 10, 2012

Today's headlines include findings of a new Washington Post poll indicating Americans remain divided on the health law. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, cracks may be emerging in the Republican's repeal effort.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: New Obesity Guidelines Expected To Increase Coverage
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Recently revised guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force acknowledge that fact. They recommend that clinicians screen patients for obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. Further, they say patients who meet or exceed that level should be offered or referred to 'intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions' to help them lose weight" (Andrews, 7/10). Read the column.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: ACO Rollout Continues With 89 New Networks; CBO To Release New Budget Numbers For Health Law The Week Of July 23; Some Employers Waiting Until After Election To Prepare For Health Law
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports on the latest ACO news: "The next round of accountable care organizations is out at last. On Monday, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the selection of 89 new ACOs. That's more than triple the number of ACOs selected in the previous round. As of July 1, the newly anointed networks became responsible for providing better, cheaper care to 1.2 million seniors on Medicare" (Gold, 7/9).

Also on Capsules, Marilyn Werber Serafini reports on when to expect new estimates from CBO: "The Congressional Budget Office will release its estimate of the federal budgetary impact of the Supreme Court health law ruling the week of July 23, according to a blog post by CBO Director Doug Elmendorf" (Werber Serafini, 7/9). Werber Serafini also reports on a new Mercer employer survey: "For one in six employers, the Supreme Court's health law decision wasn't enough to convince them to prepare for big changes set to take effect in 2014, according to Mercer, an employer consultant.  Mercer surveyed 4,000 employers after the court's ruling, and found that 16 percent still intended to wait until after the November election to make plans for how to comply with the law" (Werber Serafini, 7/9). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Washington Post: Americans Still Divided On Health-Care Reform: Poll
Americans are as evenly divided as ever about the health-care reform law, but more voters say it won't be a factor in their vote this November, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Thirty-seven percent of registered voters say it wouldn't make much of a difference whether a congressional candidate supports or opposes the Affordable Care Act. But the poll shows a close divide among other voters: 30 percent of registered voters say a candidate’s support for the health law would make them more likely to support a candidate; 31 percent say it would make them more likely to oppose a candidate (O'Keefe, 7/10).

The New York Times: Cracks Appear In Republican Unity On Health Law Repeal
A House vote to fully repeal President Obama’s health care law was supposed to be the coup de grâce for "Obamacare," a final sweeping away of a law that Republicans thought the Supreme Court would gut and leave for dead. Instead, the House on Wednesday will take up the repeal measure after the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality was upheld, and amid growing misgivings that relitigating the issue now will make Republicans seem out of touch — especially when party leaders are still without an alternative (Weisman, 7/9).

The New York Times: Parties' Tactics Eroding Unity Left And Right
President Obama and Congressional Republicans pressed ahead on Monday with politically charged proposals on tax cuts and health care, in competing efforts to frame the election-year debate. But each risked opening fissures in their own ranks, as lawmakers played up alternatives to the aggressive approaches of their leaders (Landler and Weisman, 7/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Gov. Perry Tells Feds Texas Won't Expand Medicaid, Set Up Online Service To Shop For Insurance
"I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government," Perry said in a statement (7/9).

Los Angeles Times: Texas Rejects Two Pillars Of New Federal Healthcare Overhaul
Texas turned down an expansion of Medicaid coverage and said it will not create a state-run healthcare insurance exchange,  joining the chorus of states that are rejecting two key proposals of the Obama administration's healthcare overhaul measure. In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released on Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose bid for the GOP presidential nomination fell flat this year, rejected both healthcare proposals (Muskal, 7/9).

The New York Times: Perry Declares Texas’ Rejection Of Health Care Law 'Intrusions'
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas told federal officials on Monday that the state had no intention of expanding Medicaid or establishing a health insurance exchange, two major provisions of President Obama's health care overhaul (Fernandez, 7/9).

Politico: Rick Perry: Medicaid Is Like Adding People To Titanic
Hours after sending a letter to the federal government saying he'll reject the exchanges and Medicaid expansion in the health care reform law, Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared the Medicaid program to a famous shipwreck (Smith 7/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Metropolis: Christie Delays Decisions On Health-Care Law
Christie said plans to make up his mind on authorizing state-run exchanges where people can buy health insurance and an expansion of Medicaid by the beginning of 2013. But his wait-and-see approach already separates him from some other prominent Republican governors, including Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida, who have already declared their intention to turn down new federal funds that would help insure more people under Medicaid (Grossman, 7/9).

Politico: Chris Christie: Health Care Was 'Extortion'
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie labeled the Medicaid penalty in the Affordable Care Act "extortion," saying that he was pleased the Supreme Court ruled against that kind of approach "even when done by the president of the United States. First of all, I was glad that the Supreme Court ruled that extortion is still illegal in America — and that’s a relief because Obamacare, on Medicaid to the states, was extortion," he said Monday during a question and answer period after a speech at the D.C.-based Brookings Institution (Mak, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: WellPoint Aims To Profit From Medicaid With Amerigroup Purchase
One of the nation's biggest insurance companies is trying to cash in on healthcare to the poor. WellPoint Inc., the parent of Woodland Hills provider Anthem Blue Cross, agreed to pay $4.9 billion to purchase a company specializing in the Medicaid business. The all-cash deal calls for Amerigroup Corp. shareholders to receive $92 a share, a 43% premium over Friday's closing price (Hamilton, 7/10).

The New York Times: WellPoint To Acquire Amerigroup Amid Health Care Overhaul
WellPoint agreed on Monday to buy Amerigroup in a deal valued at $4.9 billion in cash, as one of the country’s biggest health insurers seeks to take advantage of an expansion of health care coverage instituted by the Obama administration (Abelson and De La Merced, 7/9).

The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint's Amerigroup Deal Marks Big Push For 'Duals'
WellPoint Inc.'s purchase of Medicaid insurer Amerigroup Corp. catapults WellPoint deep into the chase for a huge—but potentially risky—new market covering people with costly health problems (Kamp, 7/9).

The New York Times: Suit Cites States' Rights On Behalf Of Gay Rights
The question, again, is whether a federal law — this time the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA — passes constitutional muster. The law says the federal government must deny benefits to gay couples who are married in states that allow such unions. The law excludes same-sex spouses from benefits like Social Security payments, health insurance and burial services (Liptak, 7/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Seasonal Firefighters Face Many Dangers Without Health Insurance; Union Seeks Federal Coverage
They work the front lines of the nation's most explosive wildfires, navigating treacherous terrain, dense walls of smoke and tall curtains of flame. Yet thousands of the nation's seasonal firefighters have no health insurance for themselves or their families. Many firefighters are now asking to buy into a federal government health plan, largely out of anger over a colleague who was left with a $70,000 hospital bill after his son was born prematurely (7/9).

The New York Times: Panel Seated In Ethics Inquiry Into Nevada Lawmaker
Ms. Berkley has been accused of wrongly intervening with Medicare officials in 2008 after they threatened to close a troubled kidney transplant center in Las Vegas where her husband's kidney-care practice served as consulting physicians (Lipton, 7/9).

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