First Edition: February 4, 2011

Today’s headlines include reports that Virginia’s attorney general is asking the Supreme Court to expedite its review of the state’s challenge to the health law. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is doling out advice to governors about how to handle Medicaid.

Kaiser Health News: Blumenthal To Leave Obama’s Health IT Office
Kaiser Health News staff writers Phil Galewitz and Christopher Weaver report: “Dr. David Blumenthal, appointed by President Barack Obama to speed the health care system’s switch from paper to electronic records, announced Thursday that he is stepping down this spring to return to his teaching post at Harvard University” (Galewitz and Weaver, 2/3).

Kaiser Health News: States May Face Showdown With Feds Over Cutting Medicaid Rolls
Kaiser Health News staff writers Marilyn Werber Serafini and Julie Appleby report (in an updated story): “The Obama administration Thursday offered to help budget-strapped governors find ways to reduce Medicaid costs, but did not agree to urgent requests to sharply cut eligibility for the program, which covers 48 million poor, disabled and elderly people” (Werber Serafini and Appleby, 2/3).

The Washington Post: Virginia To Seek Expedited Supreme Court Review Of Suit Over Health-Care Law
Virginia will ask that the U.S. Supreme Court immediately review the state’s constitutional challenge to the federal health-care overhaul, a rare legal request to bypass appeals and ask for early intervention from the nation’s highest court, Attorney General Ken T. Cuccinelli II said Thursday (Helderman, 2/3).

The New York Times: Virginia To Ask Supreme Court To Rule On Health Law
Virginia’s attorney general announced on Thursday that he hoped to bypass an initial appellate review by asking the United States Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the Obama health care law on an expedited basis (Sack, 2/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Foes Try Divergent Tactics
States challenging the massive health-care law enacted last year are employing different tactics in their push for swift Supreme Court review of their legal cases (Kendall, 2/4).

The Washington Post: Activists Slowly Chip Away At Health-Care Law
For Marilyn Shacter, 66, a homemaker and tea party activist in Raleigh, N.C., the Senate’s vote to repeal the national health-care overhaul was anything but symbolic – no matter how shy the final tally. Wednesday’s vote was another in a series of steps to overturn a law that Shacter and others say eventually will fall. It put Democrats who might be vulnerable in 2012 on record voting against repeal. And it gave tens of thousands of activists still fuming over the health-care legislation a reason to stay passionate, engaged and organized (Gardner, 2/3).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Offers States Ideas On How To Cut Medicaid
Facing a revolt from states confronted by huge budget shortfalls and tattered healthcare safety nets, the Obama administration is intensifying a drive to help state leaders wring savings from their Medicaid programs (Levey, 2/4).

The New York Times: Governors Get Advice For Saving On Medicaid
Fearing wholesale cuts in Medicaid by states with severe budget problems, the Obama administration told governors on Thursday how they could save money by selectively and judiciously reducing benefits, curbing overuse of costly prescription drugs and attacking fraud (Pear, 2/3).

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