First Edition: September 1, 2010

Today’s news includes reports about the health overhaul’s early retiree subsidy program as well as a health reform policy declaration by Minnesota’s governor that has triggered speculation about his plans for 2012.

Repealing Health Reform: For Heritage Action, It Would Be A ‘Grand Slam’
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas talks with Michael Needham, the Heritage Foundation staffer in charge of the organization’s action plan to repeal health reform (Kaiser Health News).

2,000 Groups Approved For Early-Retiree Health Care Funds
Nearly 2,000 employers and unions have been approved to seek federal reimbursement for the health claims of their “early retirees,” or retired workers aged 55 or older who are too young to get Medicare, Obama administration officials announced Tuesday (The Washington Post). 

KHN Daily Report: Employers From Nearly Every Sector Of Economy Applying For Health Overhaul’s Early Retirement Subsidies
Kaiser Health News tracked Tuesday’s news coverage of the administration’s progress report on the early retiree program created in the new health law.

Minnesota Balks At Health-Law Funds
Minnesota’s Republican governor on Tuesday blocked the state from tapping certain federal funds under the new health-care law, a declaration with political overtones for a possible presidential candidate (The Wall Street Journal).

Pawlenty Health Order As Much About 2012 As Minn.
Take note, Mitt Romney. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is burnishing his standing among Republican primary voters who overwhelmingly oppose President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The law is likely to be a central theme in the 2012 presidential race. Pawlenty, who is not seeking a third term in the governor’s office, hasn’t announced if he will enter the GOP presidential primaries and caucuses. But on Tuesday he ordered state agencies to decline “discretionary” involvement with the federal law “unless otherwise required by law or approved by the governor’s office” (The Associated Press).

Pawlenty Restricts Minnesota’s Participation In Healthcare Reform Law
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) restricted his state’s participation in the healthcare reform law (The Hill).

Medicare: A Prevention Plan That could Lower Costs
Medicare last week finally leveled a pre-emptive strike against smoking and agreed to pay for counseling for senior smokers who are not yet sick. The new smoking cessation program for seniors might seem a tad late. People usually smoke for decades before they get cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other smoking-related disorders — just in time for Medicare to pick up the tab. But the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decision memo noted that even older smokers who quit can see fairly quick payback in terms of reduced illness (The Fiscal Times).

Federal Spending Rises A Record 16%
Overall, the largest chunk of federal spending – about 46 percent of the $3.2 trillion – went to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, entitlement programs that are projected to swell as the population ages (The Washington Post).

California’s Safety-Net Health Insurance Premiums Rise
As state leaders blast giant health insurers for raising rates, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration has quietly allowed hefty increases for thousands of sick or jobless Californians who must rely on expensive safety-net coverage — if they want insurance at all (Los Angeles Times).

Deal Would Provide Dialysis To Illegal Immigrants In Atlanta
Thirty-eight end-stage renal patients, most of them illegal immigrants, would receive the dialysis they need to stay alive at no cost under a rough agreement brokered Tuesday among local dialysis providers and Atlanta’s safety-net hospital, Grady Memorial (The New York Times).

More ‘Empowered’ Patients Question Doctors’ Orders
In the past, most patients placed their entire trust in the hands of their physician. Your doc said you needed a certain medical test, you got it. Not so much anymore (USA Today).

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