First Edition: March 16, 2012

Today's headlines feature reports that the federal government has cut Texas Medicaid funds because of a Planned Parenthood flap.

Kaiser Health News: What You Can Expect This Year From The Health Law (Video)
Even as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the historic lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, consumers are already seeing some changes. Jackie Judd talks with Kaiser Health News' "Insuring Your Health" columnist Michelle Andrews about insurance rebates, flexible spending accounts, preventive care (3/15).

Kaiser Health News: The Health Law And The Supreme Court: A Primer For The Upcoming Oral Arguments
Writing for Kaiser Health News, Stuart Taylor, Jr., details what will be in play later this month when the high court considers the fate of the health law (Taylor, 3/15).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Feds Drop Texas Women's Health Program; Barriers To HIV Care In The U.S.; Advocacy Group Targets Democratic Senators
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, KUHF’s Carrie Feibel, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on recent events in Texas: "The federal government told Texas today that it would be dropping the state from the Medicaid Women's Health Program. Until now, federal Medicaid dollars had paid for 90 percent of the costs to help poor Texas women get gynecological exams, cancer screenings and contraception. Federal Medicaid director Cindy Mann says Texas will be dropped because Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, insisted on rules that excluded Planned Parenthood from the program" (Feibel, 3/15).

In addition, Shefali S. Kulkarni writes about a new report that identifies barriers to HIV care: "On Thursday, the IOM released their recommendations in a 259-page report highlighting barriers to HIV care such as delayed diagnosis, sporadic use of antiretroviral therapy and untreated mental health problems" (Kulkarni, 3/15).

Also on Capsules, Karl Eisenhower reports on a new ad targeting Democratic senators: "The 60 Plus Association, a conservative-leaning advocacy group focused on issues for seniors, began running new television spots this week targeting five incumbent Democratic senators for their support of the Medicare provisions in the 2010 health law. … Each version of the ad, which features 77-year-old crooner Pat Boone, asks seniors to call one of five senators …  to express opposition to health law provisions like the Independent Payment Advisory Board.  All five senators are up for re-election this fall" (Eisenhower, 3/15). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Wall Street Journal: Washington Elites Queue Up To See Nine Justices On Hot Seat
The hottest ticket of the season isn't for the White House Easter Egg Roll or Opening Day for the Washington Nationals baseball team. It's for a spot inside the Supreme Court to watch three days of arguments challenging the 2010 health-care law that begin here a week from Monday. Given the town, people are working every angle (Adamy and Bravin, 3/15).

USA Today: Health Care Challengers Offer Hypothetical Mandates
If President Obama's health care law — his landmark legislative achievement — is to withstand legal challenge, government lawyers must convince a majority of justices that the health care marketplace is unique. By not buying insurance, their argument goes, millions of Americans transfer $43 billion in health care costs to others in the form of higher premiums (Wolf, 3/15).

USA Today: What Effects The Health Care Law Has Had And What's To Come
Two years after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, some provisions have taken effect, while others still have two years to wait. In a recent poll by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, two in three Americans said they have not been affected by the law yet. Only 14% said they have benefited; 21% said they have been affected negatively. Here's a look at some provisions with the broadest potential impact (3/15).

The New York Times: House GOP Hesitates On Birth Control Fight
House Republicans, unsure how to proceed, have slowed their efforts to overturn a federal rule requiring employers, including religious institutions, to provide female employees with free health insurance coverage for contraceptives (Pear, 3/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Texas Medicaid Funds Cut Over Planned Parenthood
State legislators have long sought to bar funds for services provided at clinics that also carried out abortions under separate programs. State officials finally moved ahead with new rules this year barring Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions in addition to basic women's health services. Officials at the federal agency charged with overseeing the Medicaid program said the state could not restrict patients' access to particular providers and still receive federal money, and wrote to state officials Thursday to tell them that the agency would stop funding that part of the Medicaid program within months (Radnofsky, 3/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Federal Government To Begin Halting Funding For Texas Women’s Health Program In Abortion Fight
The standoff stems from a law passed by the Legislature last summer and took effect Wednesday. It bars state funding for clinics affiliated with abortion providers. The Obama administration had pledged to stop funding the Women’s Health Program because federal law requires women to be able to choose any qualified clinic. Gov. Rick Perry counters that states have the right, under federal law, to determine qualified providers in the program (3/15).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Government To Shut Down Texas Women’s Health Program
The Obama Administration on Thursday said it would begin shutting down a program that provides health care for more than 100,000 low-income women in Texas because the state will not allow funding for clinics that provide abortion services (Forsyth, 3/16).

USA Today: Home Health Care Companies’ Profits Up In 2010
Home health care companies made an average 19.4% profit in 2010, a report released Thursday shows, prompting the independent board that oversees Medicare to again ask Congress to lower reimbursement rates for these companies (Kennedy, 3/16).

The New York Times: Obama Campaign Video Serves Up A Heroic Vision Of Catastrophe Averted
It’s not exactly "Morning Again in America." If anything, a new straight-to-the-Internet campaign video of President Obama looks more like darkness at noon. … It's not as easy to make the case for bailouts and health care reform, but the film does it with images of auto workers back on the job and young people and the elderly beaming over their medical insurance coverage. Yet for all the plaudits for the president's character, the ending is more cautionary than triumphant. Mr. Hanks reminds viewers to remember "how far we've come" and asks them to "look forward to the work still to be done" (Stanley, 3/15).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Aided By Hollywood, Obama Campaign Issues Glowing Documentary On First Term
The documentary, commissioned by the Obama campaign, provides a window into how his team is trying to sell the president's re-election bid: As a man of principle who faced daunting challenges from the moment he won election but persevered to rescue the U.S. auto industry, begin rebuilding the economy, pass health care reform and authorize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden (3/15).

NPR: In Protest, Democrats Zero In On Men's Reproductive Health
For perhaps the first time in recent history, male reproductive health is at the forefront of political debate. In at least six states, lawmakers — all women and all Democrats — have proposed bills or amendments in the last few weeks that aim to regulate a man's access to reproductive health care (Tomassoni, 3/15).

The Washington Post: At D.C. Superior Court Program, A Focus On Helping Minors With Mental Health Problems
Known formally as the juvenile mental health diversion court, it is the latest stop for Magistrate Judge Joan Goldfrank, who has spent much of her career on the bench navigating the intersection of mental health and criminal justice (Moyer, 3/15).


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