First Edition: September 20, 2012

Today's headlines include reports that the health law's penalty for not obtaining health insurance could hit as many as 6 million people. 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Insurance Coverage Improves In 20 States, Census Shows; HHS Touts Growth In Medicare Advantage Plans, Drop In Premiums
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Phil Galewitz reports on Census Bureau data regarding insurance coverage rates: "The percentage of people without health insurance fell in 20 states last year with Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont seeing the biggest declines, according to an analysis of data released Thursday by the Census Bureau" (Galewitz, 9/20).

Also on Capsules, Mary Agnes Carey reports on Medicare Advantage news: "Just days away from a House hearing where Republicans are likely to charge that the 2010 health law’s cuts to Medicare Advantage plans will cause insurers to leave the program and seniors to pay more for coverage, the Obama administration said Wednesday that as a result of the law seniors now have more of these private plans to choose from and that coverage is less expensive" (Carey, 9/19). Check out what else is on the blog.

NPR’s The Two-Way: Census: In 2011, Number Of Poor Americans Increased
Young Americans are one of the first to feel the effects of the Affordable Care Act. … According to the Census, once young Americans aged 19 to 25 could be added to their parents' plans, there was a 3.5 percent increase in the number insured. The Census compared that number to to those aged 26 to 29, who saw a decline of almost 1 percent in the number of those insured during the same period (Peralta, 9/20).

The New York Times: Underemployed And Overlooked, Struggling Young Adults Are A Question Mark
Millions of struggling working-class young adults, many in battleground states like Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin, are up for grabs in this election, making up what experts call one of the most potentially powerful but often overlooked voting blocs (Saulny, 9/19).

The Washington Post: To Claim Virginia, Obama's Hopes Rest On Women
This year, however, ginning up female support has become an imperative for Obama in his reelection bid. Across the electoral map, the Obama campaign is banking on women to offset an expected loss to Romney among men. In few places, if any, does that effort appear to be succeeding as well as it is in the Old Dominion. That is in part a reaction to heavy-handed Republican moves on reproductive issues, but it also reflects an apparent affinity that women feel with Obama on economic concerns (Tumulty and Clement, 9/19).

Politico: Emily's List Super PAC Raises $2 Million
Schriock said the quality of women candidates this year combined with the Republican agenda to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion in all cases has the group’s energies up this year (Parti, 9/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hispanics The Focus Thursday As Obama Pushes To Keep Romney On Defensive
Battling the perception that he's not working hard enough, Romney on Thursday announced plans to launch a three-day bus tour across Ohio next week. His campaign also released a new ad featuring Florida Sen. Marco Rubio … promoting Romney's plans to overhaul Medicare. The candidates' personal attention to Hispanic voters, backed by millions of dollars in targeted advertising, is designed to influence a group likely to play a critical role this fall — and for years to come (9/20).

USA Today: CBO: Health Care Penalty To Hit 6M People
The Congressional Budget Office estimated today that nearly 6 million people will have to pay a penalty for not obtaining health insurance once President Obama's health care law is full in place. That's a 2 million increase over a previous estimate (Jackson, 9/19).

The Associated Press/New York Times: More Expected To Face Penalty Under Health Law
Nearly six million Americans, most of them middle-income workers, will face a tax penalty under President Obama's health overhaul for not getting insurance, Congressional analysts said Wednesday. That estimate, from analysts at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, is significantly higher than their previous projection, calculated in 2010 shortly after the law passed (9/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Romney Softens Tone At Univision Forum
Mitt Romney appeared to embrace his role as the "grandfather of Obamacare," while also disavowing President Barack Obama's health-care law, as the Republican softened his tone on a host of hot-button issues Wednesday evening. "I have experience in health-care reform," Mr. Romney said in a candidates forum hosted by Univision, the Spanish-language network. "Now and then the president says I'm the grandfather of Obamacare. I don't think he meant that as a compliment but I'll take it" (Murray, 9/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Romney Says Being Called The 'Godfather Of Obamacare' Is A Compliment He'll Accept
Mitt Romney says it's a compliment to be called the grandfather of Obamacare, the health care law championed by President Barack Obama and scorned by Republicans — including Romney himself. Obama has said the health care law Romney backed while governor of Massachusetts is the basis of the federal Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010 (9/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Premiums Inching Higher For Popular Medicare Advantage Plans; Strong Rise In Enrollment
Monthly premiums for popular private insurance plans through Medicare are only inching up next year, the Obama administration said Wednesday, trumpeting good news for skeptical older voters on a closely watched election-year issue (9/19).

Politico: Medicare Advantage Shrugs Off Cuts
The Obama administration is declaring a small victory on Medicare: The private Medicare Advantage plans haven't been hurt by "Obamacare" after all. In fact, they’re thriving, according to administration estimates released Wednesday (Norman, 9/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Wheelchair Suppliers Say Crack Down On Medicare Fraud Goes Too Far; Insurer Applauds Effort
Wheelchair suppliers raised concerns Wednesday about a new government program that requires Medicare contractors to sign off before power wheelchairs can be delivered to elderly and disabled consumers (9/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Oklahoma Challenges Health Law In New Suit
Oklahoma's attorney general on Wednesday filed a fresh legal challenge to the federal health-overhaul law, zeroing in on penalties that employers in the state would face if they didn't offer affordable health coverage to their workers (Radnofsky, 9/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Virginia's Top Health Official To Discuss Federal Health Care Overhaul
Virginia's top health official will discuss the federal health care overhaul that was upheld over the summer and tell legislators what it will mean for Virginia. Virginia Secretary of Health & Human Resources Bill Hazel will address the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday (9/20).

The New York Times: After Death, Helping To Prolong Life
In the complex business of procuring organs to supply a growing demand, few tasks are as delicate as Mr. LeMay's. Within LifeSource's three-state region, he and two other family support coordinators must intervene with the bereaved, at heart-wrenching moments, to make the most of each opportunity for donation (Sack, 9/19).

The New York Times: In Discarding Of Kidneys, System Reveals Flaws
Last year, 4,720 people died while waiting for kidney transplants in the United States. And yet, as in each of the last five years, more than 2,600 kidneys were recovered from deceased donors and then discarded without being transplanted, government data show (Sack, 9/19).

Los Angeles Times: Experimental Drug May Help Some Autism Cases, Researchers Say
An experimental drug can improve sociability in patients with fragile X syndrome and may be helpful as a treatment for autism, according to the authors of a new study. Fragile X is a rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 4,000 boys and 1 in 8,000 girls, according to the National Institutes of Health. It usually results in mental retardation and — in about half of cases — some form of autism (Zarembo, 9/20).

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