First Edition: October 31, 2012

Today's headlines include that latest news about how health policies are playing on the campaign trail as well as how Mega-Storm Sandy took its toll on New York hospitals.  

Kaiser Health News: Insurance Policies Favoring Compounded Drugs For High-Risk Pregnancies Draw Scrutiny
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "When a brand-name drug to help prevent premature births was approved last year, its $1,500-a-dose-price alarmed state and private sector insurance officials. Many restricted use of the FDA-approved Makena in favor of $20- to $40-a-dose versions that had been made for years by pharmacies, saying that would give more women access to the treatment. Federal officials, sympathetic to such arguments, allowed the pharmacies to continue making the unapproved drugs" (Appleby, 10/30). Read the story

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Poll: Romney Closes Gap With Obama On Medicare Issue
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Phil Galewitz writes: "As the race for the White House has tightened, President Barack Obama has seen his advantage on several key health issues narrow significantly among likely voters, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday" (Galewitz, 10/30). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Romney Says He'll Undo Obama Healthcare Reform On Day 1. Can He?
Mitt Romney has pledged to do away with President Obama's healthcare reform law if he wins next week's election. But would he — or any other president — have the power to do so? Not exactly, according to two Georgetown University professors writing this week in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. But there are some things President Romney would be able to do if he won, and more if he were joined in Washington by a Republican-controlled Congress (Kaplan, 10/30).

U.S. News/The Wall Street Journal: Medicare Fails To Sway Senior Votes
Senior citizens are a coveted voting bloc in Florida, where they make up about a quarter of the electorate in this highly contested swing state. They are especially important for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, given his deficit among young voters and minorities, according to polls (Campo-Flores, 10/29).

USA Today: Pearl Jam Guitarist Asks Voter To Back Health Care Law
Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready may seem like an odd poster-child for President Obama's health care law. But the musician, 46, has Crohn's disease, an incurable gastrointestinal disorder. He says he was denied health insurance coverage twice because of his condition and needed the help of a patient advocate to navigate the bureaucracy to get his treatment (Camia, 10/30).

USA Today: Chance Of Surgery, Care Quality Vary By Region
Where you live – and where your doctors did their training – has a lot to do with whether you'll be operated on, get an infection or have other potentially risky medical tests, a report out Tuesday said. And we're not talking about small-town vs. big-city medicine (O’Donnell, 10/30).

NPR: Superstorm Sandy Takes Toll On New York Hospitals
When a storm hits, people count on the local hospital to be ready — no matter what. But when Sandy slammed into New York City, one of Manhattan's biggest hospitals buckled. After the power went out in Lower Manhattan, New York University Langone Medical Center's backup power generators failed, too (Hensley, 10/30).

The New York Times: Patients Evacuated From City Medical Center After Power Failure
The medical center, NYU Langone Medical Center, a sprawling complex in the low 30s near the East River, began transporting all 215 patients at the hospital to other facilities on Monday evening, They were still being transported to other nearby hospitals, including Sloan Kettering and Mount Sinai, early on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the hospital said (Goodman and Moynihan, 10/30).

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurers Line Up To Compete In California's Exchange
California's health insurance exchange said more than 30 plans are expected to vie with one another for spots in the state-run marketplace opening next fall. State officials, and those in other states, are eager to flex their purchasing power under the federal healthcare law by selecting only certain individual and small-business health plans for 19 different regions across California (Terhune, 10/31).

Los Angeles Times: Blue Shield Of California Will Return $50 Million To Customers
Health insurer Blue Shield of California said it would return $50 million to customers by year-end as part of its pledge to limit its annual profit to 2% of revenue. The San Francisco company said most customers would receive credit on their December bills. It said the average credit would be about $25 for an individual customer and roughly $75 for a family of four, depending on their premiums (Terhune, 10/31).

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major 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.