First Edition: March 5, 2012

Today's headlines include reports setting the scene for the upcoming "Super Tuesday" primary elections and how GOP presidential candidates are pointing to health policy issues as part of the debate.  

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: Why Did I Receive A Bill From An Out-Of-Network Radiologist? (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question from a reader who received a bill from an out-of-network radiologist after a routine mammogram at an in-network hospital. The reader asks: What can we citizens do to ensure our rights (3/5).

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy news headlines, including reports that a GOP Republican lawmaker is demanding an explanation about the costs associated with a key part of the health law

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Advances As Obama Gains
The resurgence of Mr. Romney, who hadn't led the Journal poll since November, lays the path for a potential matchup against a president whose own position is strengthening. President Barack Obama's approval rate hit 50% in the poll, its highest since last May, as more voters expressed confidence in the economy. … The survey, conducted as the GOP contest has taken up contentious issues such as contraception, found signs of fatigue with the process (King, 3/5).

USA Today: Ohio GOP Voters Grow Weary Of Social Issues In Campaign
Some Republican voters in this key swing state have grown weary of the talk of contraception and religion in the GOP primary campaign (Kucinich, 3/5).

Bloomberg/The Washington Post: Romney Camp Questions Santorum’s Competence Ahead Of Super Tuesday
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's advisers questioned rival Rick Santorum's competence and electability as Santorum criticized Romney for his health-care policies as Massachusetts governor ahead of contests held March 6 on so-called Super Tuesday. As the candidates competed in Ohio yesterday, the Romney campaign said Santorum's failure to qualify for some of the 66 Ohio delegates up for grabs is a symbol of broader troubles, arguing that it shows the former Pennsylvania senator has a disorganized campaign and couldn't compete with President Barack Obama in the general election (Davis and McCormick, 3/4).

The Washington Post: Santorum Moves To Shore Up Support Before Super Tuesday
Santorum is expected to do well in Oklahoma and in Tennessee, where he attended a church service Sunday morning. … About 500 people showed up at a rally in front of the state capitol, but protesters interrupted Santorum, forcing him to shout his attacks on President Obama and Romney, whom he criticized for enacting Massachusetts’s health-care law when he was governor (Henderson and Rucker 3/4).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Cost Estimate For Insurance Aid Jumps $111 B; Administration Cites Technical Budget Issues
Cost estimates for a key portion of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law have ballooned by $111 billion from last year's budget, and a senior Republican lawmaker on Friday demanded an explanation. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., wants to know by Monday why the estimated cost of helping millions of middle-class Americans buy health insurance has jumped by about 30 percent for an eight-year period, from 2014-2021 (3/2).

Los Angeles Times: To Stay Fiscally Healthy, State's Hospitals Want Fewer Patients
To survive the unprecedented challenges coming with federal healthcare reform, California hospitals are upending their bedrock financial model: They are trying to keep some patients out of their beds (Gorman, 3/4).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber Signs Health Care Overhaul Bill; Promises To Improve Care, Reduce Costs
If Oregon's Democratic governor is right, the bill he signed Friday will improve health care and reduce costs so significantly that it could help fix the federal budget. The Obama administration is watching with keen interest — and so are critics who say Gov. John Kitzhaber's plan is just another example of government overreach (3/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Limbaugh Apologizes To Law Student For Insult On Sex, Says He Intended No Personal Attack
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh apologized Saturday to a Georgetown University law student he had branded a "slut" and "prostitute" after fellow Republicans as well as Democrats criticized him and several advertisers left his program (3/3).

The Washington Post: Sandra Fluke Says She Expected Criticism, Not Personal Attacks, Over Contraception Issue
But unlike those others who were part of a running campus controversy, Fluke became part of a heated and highly personal national debate when she agreed to testify before a congressional committee last month. Fluke said she anticipated criticism but not personal attacks from prominent pundits including Rush Limbaugh, who repeatedly has called her a "slut," and from hundreds of people who have typed even more offensive slurs on Twitter (Johnson, 3/3).

The New York Times: Limbaugh Advertisers Flee Show Amid Storm
Mr. Limbaugh has been roundly criticized for talking at length about the sex life of Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who testified in support of the Obama administration's requirement that health insurance plans cover contraceptives for women. For three straight days he lambasted her, before saying in a statement Saturday afternoon that he did not intend to attack her personally. "I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation," he said. By the time he apologized, online protesters had been organizing for days on social networking Web sites and liberal hubs like Daily Kos (Stelter, 3/4).

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