First Edition: November 2, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about what the presidential candidates are saying in the final days of the campaign.

Kaiser Health News: Halvorson: Premium Costs In The Exchanges Will 'Depend Entirely' On Participation – The KHN Interview
Kaiser Health News staff writers Julie Appleby and Alvin Tran recently spoke with George C. Halvorson, the chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, about plans to expand its presence in the Washington, D.C., area as well as his thoughts on premium cost comparisons, the health law's future and how the presidential election might alter its course (11/1). Read the interview or listen to an audio clip.

Kaiser Health News: Q & A: does The Health Law Require Me To Cover My Adult Child? (Video)
Kaiser Health News "Insuring Your Health" columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader question about the obligations of insurers -- and parents -- under the 2010 health law (11/1). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: OB/GYNs And ER Docs Excluded From Health Law's Medicaid Pay Hike
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Phil Galewitz writes: "Obstetricians, gynecologists and emergency room physicians won’t be eligible for higher Medicaid rates to primary care doctors that start in January under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration ruled late Thursday" (Galewitz, 11/2). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Romney Resumes Criticizing Obama On The Stump
With five days to go until election day, Romney said voters faced a clear choice, and painted a dim picture of the nation's future if Obama were reelected – seniors unable to find doctors who were taking additional Medicare patients, middle-aged Americans seeing stagnant wages, annual trillion-dollar debts (Mehta, 11/1).

The Washington Post: Obama Returns To Campaign Trail To Deliver Closing Argument In Whirlwind, Multi-State Trip
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent the day in the battleground state of Virginia, where he hammered home the central theme of his closing argument to voters: that he is a champion of business whose policies would usher in new jobs and rising incomes for America’s workers and entrepreneurs. … Then [Obama] ticked off more policies he said Romney would pursue that did not represent change: rolling back Wall Street reform, giving a tax cut to the wealthy and overturning the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health-care reform legislation. "Turning Medicare into a voucher system is change, but we don’t want that kind of change," Obama said (Nakamura, 11/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Harkens Back To The Past And Pitches Change In Closing Argument To Voters
Obama blitzed Thursday from Wisconsin to Nevada to Colorado, where he wrapped up his day with a 10,000-person rally in Boulder. The president acknowledged that many Americans may be "frustrated" that change hasn't come fast enough. To them, Obama offered a new definition of change that included passing the health care overhaul, bailing out the auto industry, ending the Iraq war and putting the U.S. military on a path to leave Afghanistan (11/2).

The Washington Post: Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama on Thursday, citing climate change as the primary factor and Hurricane Sandy as the event that impelled him to make a choice. The mayor also cited the education competition Race to the Top, health-care reform, gay marriage and abortion rights as reasons to vote for Obama (Weiner, 11/1).

The New York Times' The Caucus: In Swing States, Obama Leads On Handling Medicare
President Obama continues to lead Mitt Romney on the question of who would better handle Medicare in the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, recent polls of likely voters in all three states found. But as Election Day nears Mr. Romney has narrowed the gap in Florida and Virginia. A series of Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News polls released this week found that while Mr. Romney still trails Mr. Obama on Medicare in all three states, he has made up ground in Florida and Virginia (Cooper and Kopicki, 11/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Former CEO Romney Would Enter White House With Broad Agenda, Focus On Data Over Ideology
Should he prevail Tuesday, Mitt Romney would bring a CEO’s eye to the White House and a policy agenda based on a general set of principles and focused more on data than ideology. … Chief on the "To-Do" list, out of necessity: dealing with the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and budget cuts. He also promises to start repealing and replacing the president's signature health care law and overhauling the nation's tax system. And he would likely have to work with a divided Congress to accomplish it all (11/2).

NPR: Romney’s Baffling Claim About Medicare Pay Cuts For Doctors
Health care in general — and Medicare, in particular — have been big parts of this year's presidential campaign. But over the last couple of weeks, Republican Mitt Romney has been making a new claim that doesn't quite clear the accuracy bar. It has to do with $716 billion in Medicare reductions over 10 years included in the federal health law, the Affordable Care Act. And it's become a standard part of Romney's stump speech (Rovner, 11/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Tab Rises In Tight North Dakota Senate Race
How do you run for Senate as a Democrat in a state that hasn't backed one of your own for president since men walked on the moon? For Heidi Heitkamp, the answer is to support the Keystone Pipeline, criticize onerous environmental regulations, bad-mouth core planks of the Democrats' 2010 federal health-care overhaul, and generally put a country mile between herself and President Barack Obama. The strategy has helped Ms. Heitkamp, a former North Dakota attorney general, turn the Senate race here against Rep. Rick Berg into one of the closest and costliest in recent state history (King, 11/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: US Chamber To Air Ads Against Democratic Sen. Casey In Pa., Endorses GOP Candidate
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching television and radio ads against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in a Pennsylvania race that Republicans insist has become competitive. The television commercial calls Casey the deciding vote for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, although he was one of 60 who backed the measure. It also criticizes the first-term senator on energy (11/1).

USA Today: Rape Comments Transform U.S. Senate Race In Indiana
Before their Oct. 23 debate, the U.S. Senate race pitting Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly focused on the future of Social Security and Medicare and whether one candidate is too conservative and the other too liberal. But Mourdock, 61, Indiana's treasurer since 2007, said that night, "Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that ... is something that God intended to happen." His remark catapulted the race, already crucial to control of the Senate, into national headlines and the presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who had just released an ad supporting Mourdock, declined to withdraw his support, but his campaign said he disagreed with Mourdock's views. President Obama's campaign released an online ad calling Romney and Mourdock "extremists" on women's issues (Keen, 11/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Union Is Top Spender For Democrats
The Service Employees International Union has emerged as the top outside spender on Democratic campaigns this year, surpassing even President Barack Obama's main super PAC. SEIU has had particular success in recent years in organizing workers in the health-care and service industries. About half of its members work in health care, including everything from janitors and nurses to home-care workers and security officers. The union's membership of 2.1 million is up from 1.6 million 10 years ago, even after it lost some during the economic downturn (Trottman and Mullins, 11/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Bill Would Tighten Pharmacy Rules
Lawmakers are assembling legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration clearer authority to regulate large pharmacies that mix customized drugs like the one tied to a deadly meningitis outbreak. On Friday, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) plans to introduce a bill that would require large compounding pharmacies to meet the same sterility, manufacturing and record-keeping standards as those required of large drug makers (Burton and Dooren, 11/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospital Association Sues Medicare Agency Over Payments Blocked By Audits
The American Hospital Association sued the agency that oversees Medicare, saying an audit program aimed at trimming improper payments is unfairly depriving hospitals of reimbursement for care they provide (Mathews, 11/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Cigna Earning Surge; Layoffs Planned
The Bloomfield, Conn., managed-care company significantly boosted its full-year adjusted earnings guidance after posting better results than Wall Street expected. The company Thursday also announced a restructuring plan that includes reducing the size of its global workforce about 4%, affecting 1,300 workers amid a mix of layoffs and hiring (Kamp, 11/1).

Los Angeles Times: Fewer Than 50 Percent Of Small Business Employees Offered Health Benefits
A new study finds that 49% of U.S. workers in small businesses were offered health insurance in 2010, down from 58% in 2003. Firms with 100 or more employees were far more likely to provide health benefits, at 90% in both 2003 and 2010, according to the report from the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that does healthcare research (Terhune, 11/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: NH Hospital In Hepatitis C Outbreak Ordered To Give State Broad Access To Patient Records
A New Hampshire judge says a hospital tied to a hepatitis C outbreak must grant public health officials broad access to patient records. Exeter Hospital had argued it would be violating state and federal law if it provided unfettered access to its records system. But a Merrimack County Superior Court judge on Thursday sided with the state (11/1).

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This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.