Healthcare News January 24, 2012

  • ‘Daily Show’ host presses Sebelius on states’ role in healthcare

    Comedian Jon Stewart pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with detailed questions Monday about the implementation of healthcare reform.

    Stewart raised HHS’ surprising decision to let the states define “essential” health benefits, asking why the states could be trusted with that task when many of them lack strong insurance regulations.

    “Why do we think they’ll have the ability to regulate it enough to create reasonable plans for people?” Stewart asked.

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: State of the Union frames election-year battles

    There’s a Republican debate tonight and the State of the Union is tomorrow, and the issue of abortion isn’t going away any time soon.

    SOTU preview: There are three possible tacks for President Obama to take with healthcare in tomorrow’s speech. He could rally the base by defending healthcare reform. He could emphasize his willingness to make certain cuts to his own law as well as Medicare and Medicaid. And he could hammer Republicans for their plan to privatize Medicare.

    House Democrats are very much on board with the third option, especially ahead of another round of budget resolutions that will once again include a proposal to convert Medicare into subsidies for private insurance. But in a climate of budget-cutting, it’s also worth noting that the White House has already put significant healthcare savings on the table.

  • Report: Many states lag in implementing healthcare law

    A new report from independent researchers could undercut the Obama administration’s claims that most states are implementing the new healthcare reform law.

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute said Monday that 15 states have made “little or no progress” implementing a key piece of the new law — an insurance exchange where individuals and small businesses can buy private insurance.

    The White House released its own report last week saying 28 states are working toward a state-based exchange. Along with states accepting grants for programs like the review of insurance rates, the figures show that “all States have taken some action to implement health reform,” the White House said.

    But the Urban Institute analysis released Monday isn’t as upbeat. It says there are major discrepancies in how much progress states have made, and that the most resistant states have the most to lose.

    The states that haven’t begun working seriously toward an exchange are among the states where the largest number of residents would be eligible for federal subsidies to help purchase insurance, the analysis says. It also notes that the federal government has the power to establish a federally run fallback in any state that does not set up its own exchange.

  • National Right to Life creates super-PAC to battle Obama

    A prominent anti-abortion-rights group has created a super-PAC to take on President Obama in 2012.

    The National Right to Life’s political action committee, dubbed the Victory Fund, will focus primarily on defeating Obama and electing a “pro-life president,” according to David O’Steen, the group’s executive director.

    “The challenge posed by Obama is the greatest danger we’ve ever [faced]. We see this as the greatest challenge to abortions since Roe v. Wade,” O’Steen said, referring to the Supreme Court decision. 

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