First Edition: July 19, 2012

Today's headlines include a variety of stories exploring public opinions about the health law, the upcoming election and the Supreme Court.

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Upfront Payment For Medical Problems (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews a question about providers requesting advance payment for medical tests and other services (7/18). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Bill Frist To GOP Governors: Get Cracking On Exchanges
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Marilyn Werber Serafini writes: "A former GOP power player is urging Republicans to rethink their rejection of the health law and to implement state insurance exchanges – and to do it now" (Werber Serafini, 7/18). Check out what else is on the blog.

NPR: A Majority Of Voters In NPR Poll Favor Amending, Not Repealing, Health Care Act
A new poll done for NPR by a bipartisan polling team shows the Affordable Care Act still stirring deep political division in the weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the law's constitutionality. But while much of the country remains strongly opposed to the law popularly known as Obamacare, a bare majority (51 percent) favors the idea of amending rather than repealing it (Elving, 7/18).

The New York Times: Economic Fears Hurting Obama, Poll Indicates
But the Times/CBS poll nonetheless underscores a national trendline in which the economy remains the dominant force in the campaign, regardless of outside events like the Supreme Court ruling on Mr. Obama’s health care law or the daily sticks-and-stones of the trail (Rutenberg and Connelly, 7/18).

Politico: Health-Care Reform: Subcommittee Follows Up On Plan To Defund
Republicans on a House Appropriations subcommittee beat back Democratic efforts Wednesday to protect the health reform law, winning passage of a spending bill that would defund the Affordable Care Act, eliminate a decades-old health research agency and slash the budget for other health programs. The subcommittee approved the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill on a mostly party-line vote of 8-6. The vote came only after Republicans defeated an attempt by one of their own, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), to chop an additional $8.6 billion from the bill, cutting it by 5.5 percent across the board (Cheney, 7/18).

Los Angeles Times: Bill Frist Calls For GOP To Get Over Opposition To Healthcare Law
As Republicans continue to fight implementation of President Obama's healthcare law, one former party leader is urging them to get over it and embrace a central pillar of the new law. In an op-ed published Wednesday in "The Week," a weekly news magazine, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon from Tennessee, said state leaders in both parties should move quickly to establish state-based insurance exchanges where consumers who don't get insurance through an employer will be able to shop for health insurance plans (Levey, 7/18).

The New York Times: Maine Debate Hints At Rift On Medicaid After Ruling
As some Republican governors declare that they will not expand Medicaid under the national health care law, Gov. Paul R. LePage is going a step further. In what could lead to a direct confrontation with the Obama administration, he is planning to cut thousands of people from Maine's Medicaid rolls, arguing that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the law gives him license to do so (Goodnough and Pear, 7/18).

Los Angeles Times: Survey: Medicare Patients Happier Than Those With Private Coverage
Elderly Americans on Medicare are substantially happier with their insurance coverage than their younger counterparts who rely on commercial insurance, according to a new national survey. Only 8% of Medicare beneficiaries 65 or over rated their coverage "fair" or "poor," the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found (Levey, 7/18).

The New York Times: Postal Service Set To Default On Billions In Health Fund Payments
The Postal Service, faced with continuing financial losses because of a drop in mail volume, expects to default for the first time on its annual payment for future retiree health benefits (Nixon, 7/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Post Office Might Miss Retirees' Payment
The Postal Service repeated on Wednesday that without congressional action, it will default—a first in its long history, a spokesman said—on a legally required annual $5.5 billion payment, due Aug. 1, into a health-benefits fund for future retirees. Action in Congress isn't likely, as the House prepares to leave for its August recess (Levitz, 7/18).

The New York Times: Campaign Memo: Philosophic Clash Over Government's Role Highlights Parties' Divide
At its core, the president's argument is that the every-man-for-himself ethos he attributes to his opponents does not work. Instead, he advances a we're-in-this-together creed born out of his days as a community activist. … Mr. Romney, for his part, has also been a believer in activist government at times, certainly when he was governor of Massachusetts and enacted a pioneering plan to expand health care coverage. But the lifelong entrepreneur in him hears words like Mr. Obama's as a repudiation of the storied American tradition of rugged individualism and the self-made man (Baker, 7/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: In Florida For 2-Day Campaign Swing, Obama Tries To Keep Pressure On Romney
Obama is expected to make a pitch to seniors in West Palm Beach, where he'll visit Century Village, a condominium complex home to thousands of retirees, long a bastion of reliable Democratic voters. Obama and Democrats have warned that Romney would seek to implement a budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that includes an overhaul of Medicare that would change it into a voucher-like program for those who retire in 10 years (7/19).

Politico: Biden: Obama Knew Health Care Would Cost Him
Vice President Biden said Wednesday that President Obama was fully aware of the political backlash that passing health care reform would cause — but did it anyway. "Every single time he's made a decision — and I'm not exaggerating to you — he sits there, knows the pain it's gonna cost him politically," Biden said on a call with Obama campaign volunteers (Tau, 7/18).

The New York Times: Public's Opinion Of Supreme Court Drops After Health Care Law Decision
The American public's satisfaction with the Supreme Court, which had already been low by historical standards in recent polls, dropped further in the wake of the court's 5-to-4 ruling last month upholding President Obama's health care overhaul law (Liptak and Kopicki, 7/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Feuding With Roberts Over Health Care Decision? Not Me, Says Scalia
Justice Antonin Scalia said Wednesday he hasn't had a "falling out" with Chief Justice John Roberts over the Supreme Court's landmark 5-4 decision validating much of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (7/18).

USA Today’s The Oval: Scalia: No 'Falling Out' With Roberts After Obamacare Ruling
Scalia's comments came in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan that aired last night and just three weeks after Roberts sided with the more liberal jurists on the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama's landmark health care reform law (Madhani, 7/19).

Politico: Scalia Says He's Not Feuding With Roberts
Justice Antonin Scalia is shedding little light on the Supreme Court's deliberations over President Barack Obama's health care law, but the court's longest-serving justice did deny in an interview aired Wednesday night that he had a "falling out" with Chief Justice John Roberts over his decision to join with the court's liberal members to uphold a central part of the law (Gerstein, 7/19). 

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