First Edition: February 26, 2013

In the headlines today, a report that the administration has signaled to states that they can cut back on Medicaid payments to providers in order to control program costs. 

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Key Long-Term-Care Insurer To Raise Women's Premiums
In her latest Kaiser Health News consumer column, Michelle Andrews writes: "Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act will largely prohibit insurers who sell individual and small-group health policies from charging women higher premiums than men for the same coverage" (Andrews, 2/26). Read the column.

The New York Times: States Can Cut Back On Medicaid Payments, Administration Says
The Obama administration said Monday that states could cut Medicaid payments to many doctors and other health care providers to hold down costs in the program, which insures 60 million low-income people and will soon cover many more under the new health care law (Pear, 2/25).

NPR: Governors’ DC Summit Dominated By Medicaid And The Sequester
When the nation's governors gathered in Washington, D.C., over the weekend for their annual winter meeting, the gathering's official theme was about efforts to hire people with disabilities. But out of the public eye, at the sessions for "governors only," the discussion reportedly was dominated by two more pressing issues of the day: whether or not to expand the Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act; and the potential upcoming budget cuts set for the end of the week, known as the sequester (Rovner, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: GOP Senator Open To Tax Hike For Entitlement-Cut Deal
Mr. Graham said he also hoped to bring up budget issues and encourage Mr. Obama to look beyond the immediate battle over the across-the-board spending cuts due to begin Friday and refocus on seeking a broader deficit-reduction deal that includes both tax increases and overhaul of entitlement programs like Medicare. "I'm willing to raise revenue. I'm willing to raise $600 billion of new revenue if my Democratic friends would be willing to reform entitlements," Mr. Graham said (Hook, 2/25).

Politico: Cuts Could Harm Health Emergency Preparedness
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a new game called Solve the Outbreak that allows would-be medical sleuths to track dangerous diseases in a frightening cyber world. But if the sequester takes effect, CDC's actual disease detectives may be a lot less prepared for an epidemic in the real world (Norman, 2/25).

Politico: Health Care Twitter Depends On Who's Tweeting
The study will be made public Tuesday, and an advance copy was given to POLITICO. Kaiser Permanente said it was interested in tracking patterns and also looking at how some topics it was particularly interested in — like low-cost interventions to prevent disease including sunscreen or hand washing — were showing up on Twitter. The bottom line: Overall, physicians prioritized health education, the media paid a lot of attention to the business end of health care and lawmakers had their thumbs on the politics (Kenen, 2/26).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Overhaul May Threaten California's Safety Net
An estimated 3 million to 4 million Californians — about 10% of the state's population — could remain uninsured even after the healthcare overhaul law takes full effect. The burden of their care will fall to public hospitals, county health centers and community clinics. And those institutions may be in jeopardy (Gorman, 2/25).

Los Angeles Times: Coordinated Healthcare Could Save California $110 Billion, Group Says
California could cut $110 billion in healthcare spending over the next decade, saving the average household $800 a year, by quickly moving away from conventional fee-for-service medicine and embracing more coordinated care, a new report says (Terhune, 2/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Care Exchange Hires Va. Company With Troubled History In Conn. To Health Consumers
The state’s health care exchange announced Monday it has selected a Virginia company with a troubled history in Connecticut to run a new center to help consumers enroll in a health insurance plan beginning later this year (2/25).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Brooklyn DA Unveils New Focus On Health Fraud
The Brooklyn district attorney is leading an unusual city and federal team effort to crack down on doctors and pharmacists who bilk Medicare and Medicaid. DA Charles Hynes and other officials announced the collaboration Monday (2/25).

The Wall Street Journal's Metropolis: Cuomo Administration: Opposition To Abortion Bill 'Outrageous'
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration defended forthcoming legislation that would guarantee women the right to late-term abortions in certain cases by describing opposition as "outrageous" in an op-ed distributed Monday to media organizations (Orden, 2/25).

The New York Times: C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies At 96
Dr. C. Everett Koop, who was widely regarded as the most influential surgeon general in American history and played a crucial role in changing public attitudes about smoking, died on Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H. He was 96 (Noble, 2/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: C. Everett Koop, Former Surgeon General, Dies At 96
Dr. Koop was the most recognized surgeon general of the 20th century. He almost always appeared in the epauleted and ribboned blue or white uniform denoting his leadership of the commissioned corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. With his mustacheless beard, deep voice and grim expression, he looked like a Civil War admiral or, as some cartoonists suggested, a refugee from a Gilbert and Sullivan musical (2/25).

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