First Edition: October 2, 2012

Today's headlines include reports about states' readiness to implement the health law.

Kaiser Health News: Drug Coupons: A Good Deal For The Patient, But Not The Insurer
David Schultz, reporting for Kaiser Health News in partnership with The Washington Post, writes: "A magazine ad for the testosterone drug AndroGel shows a discount card that allows consumers to pay 'as little as $10 per month' for the medicine. Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline announces in another magazine that it offers discount coupons for the popular inhaler Advair. And a TV commercial for Nexium notes that if consumers can't afford the heartburn drug, its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, 'may be able to help'" (Schultz, 10/1). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Insurance Dependents Can Face Special Challenges On Privacy
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "Elizabeth Nash was 21 and just finishing her junior year at the College of William & Mary when she had a miscarriage. She planned to tell her parents about it in person, but her insurer beat her to it when, as a matter of routine, it mailed them a form that described the medical treatment she'd received" (Andrews, 10/1). Read the column.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: For Patients, What A Difference A Note Makes
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold writes: "Doctors are required by federal law to provide patients with a copy of their medical notes upon request, but few patients ask and doctors generally don't make the process easy" (Gold, 10/2). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: Administration Advises States To Expand Medicaid Or Risk Losing Federal Money
The Obama administration is putting pressure on states to expand Medicaid, telling them they may lose federal money if they delay. But at the same time, federal health officials have also told states that if they choose to expand Medicaid, they are free to reverse the decision at any time (Pear, 10/2).

The Washington Post: Many States Not Prepared For Health-Care Law
More than three dozen states could be unprepared or unwilling to set up the insurance marketplaces called for under the 2010 health-care law, leaving at least part of the task up to the federal government, according to a new report (Somashekhar, 10/2).

Politico: 'Obamacare' Lawsuit Tries to Set Up Path To SCOTUS
Is President Barack Obama's health care law headed back to the Supreme Court? Not now — but one of the law's opponents could be trying to set up a path to allow the court to take up some unfinished business. Liberty University is asking the Supreme Court to order a federal appeals court to hear the issues it has raised in its own lawsuit — issues it says weren't resolved when the Supreme Court upheld the law this summer (Haberkorn and Cheney, 10/1).

The New York Times: Leaders At Work On Plan To Avert Mandatory Cuts
First, senators would come to an agreement on a deficit reduction target — likely to be around $4 trillion over 10 years — to be reached through revenue raised by an overhaul of the tax code, savings from changes to social programs like Medicare and Social Security, and cuts to federal programs. Once the framework is approved, lawmakers would vote on expedited instructions to relevant Congressional committees to draft the details over six months to a year (Weisman, 10/1).

The New York Times: Distress Deepening, Postal Service Defaults On $5.6 Billion Benefits Payment
The Postal Service sank deeper into debt on Monday after the agency defaulted on a $5.6 billion payment due at the end of September, the second time it has missed a deadline this year to set aside money for its future retiree health benefits (Nixon, 10/1).

The New York Times: Doctor Visits Dropping, New Census Figures Show
Americans of working age are going to the doctor less frequently than they were 10 years ago, according to a new report by the Census Bureau. In 2010, people age 18 to 64 made an average of 3.9 visits to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, down from 4.8 visits in 2001, said the report, which was released on Monday (Tavernise, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Access To Doctors' Notes Aids Patients' Treatment
Patients who have access to doctor's notes in their medical records are more likely to understand their health issues, recall what the doctor told them and take their medications as prescribed, according to a study published Monday (Landro, 10/1).

NPR: Cloud Computing Saves Health Care Industry Time And Money
The cloud's vast computing power is making it easier and less expensive for companies and clinicians to discover new drugs and medical treatments. Analyzing data that used to take years and tens of millions of dollars can now be done for a fraction of that amount (Kaufman, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Washington Post Branches Into Health Care
Post Co. said Monday it would buy a majority stake in Celtic Healthcare Inc., a closely held provider of hospice and home health care in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, although one analyst, Sheryl Skolnick of CRT Capital Group, said average valuations suggests the deal could have been worth at least $50 million. That is a drop in the bucket for Post Co., which has a market capitalization of $2.7 billion (Hagey, 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospital Operator Tenet Plans Buybacks
The Dallas-based company plans to offer $800 million in new debt to fund deals and repay other borrowings. Tenet—which aims to add acute-care hospitals, outpatient facilities and business-process services—said its near-term acquisitions are expected to total about $400 million (Kamp, 10/1).

USA Today: Thousands Of Kids With Lead Poisoning Won't Get Help
Thousands of U.S. children with dangerous amounts of lead in their blood may go unassisted this year because local health departments can't afford to monitor them, a survey of major cities by USA TODAY shows. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut in half the amount of lead that should trigger medical monitoring and other actions in children younger than 6 (Ridel, 10/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Investigation Of Woman's Care At Va. Hospital Mired In Bureaucracy, Confusing Reports
An Associated Press examination of her care highlights the dizzying array of federal, state and private agencies charged with regulating hospital care, and the differing standards they use when investigating the most serious cases of possible neglect. In addition, an investigation report filed by Virginia regulators appears to have been altered to delete parts of the report that substantiated most of the family's complaints. That prompted a former top federal regulator to say the case warrants further investigation (10/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenge In Nebraska Abortion Case
The Supreme Court won't reconsider a decision stopping a Nebraska anti-abortion group from fighting for an abortion law that requires health screenings for women seeking abortions (10/1).

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