Healthcare News March 20, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Dems prepare for battle as GOP readies Medicare overhaul

    Ryan, or Ryan lite? That is the question, and it will be answered Tuesday morning when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) releases his budget proposal for fiscal 2013.

    The smart money is on Ryan proposing a Medicare overhaul that would let seniors choose between traditional Medicare or “premium support” to purchase private insurance coverage. That’s the plan Ryan unveiled in December with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), much to the dismay of Democrats who hope to pummel Republicans in an election year for wanting to “end Medicare.” 

    With Wyden onboard with the Medicare plan, Ryan and Republicans are hoping to claim some measure of bipartisanship. But Democrats doused cold water on that idea Monday.

    “We don’t see a difference in principle” between the Ryan-Wyden proposal and last year’s Ryan plan, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), co-chairwoman of the congressional Seniors Task Force. They are “equally bad or marginally different” because insurance companies would cherry-pick the healthiest people and end up “ruining the current system that has a guarantee for seniors.”

    Wyden himself isn’t fully on board with Ryan’s ideas. In a Huffington Post op-ed Monday afternoon, Wyden wrote that he “can’t imagine a scenario” where he would vote for Ryan’s budget. Healthwatch’s Sam Baker has more here.

  • Wyden ‘can’t imagine’ voting for Ryan budget, despite partnership on Medicare

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he probably wouldn’t vote for House Republicans’ budget proposal even if includes the Medicare plan he helped craft.

    Wyden angered many Democrats and liberals by partnering with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on a Medicare plan that will likely be included in the budget Ryan is set to release Tuesday. Wyden’s involvement has allowed Republicans to argue that there is bipartisan support for at least partially privatizing Medicare.

    Wyden published a 2,300-word op-ed Monday defending his work with Ryan. He also said Ryan’s overall budget probably wouldn’t get his vote.

    “I do not know what the details of the budget will be. I didn’t write it and I can’t imagine a scenario where I would vote for it,” Wyden wrote. “I do know, however, that because we worked together, Paul Ryan now knows more about the Medicare Guarantee and protecting seniors from unscrupulous insurance practices than he did before.”

  • Democrats hail health law’s benefits for seniors ahead of GOP budget release

    The law, according to new Medicare numbers, has helped
    5.1 million Medicare beneficiaries save more than $3.2 billion since 2010.

  • Appeals court upholds federal tobacco marketing restrictions

    A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the Obama administration’s right to require graphic warnings on cigarette packs and advertising under a 2009 tobacco law.

    The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed a Kentucky district court’s 2010 ruling that upheld the regulations against a challenge from cigarette makers. Another federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled last month that requiring graphic images and stark warning labels would violate the First Amendment.

    The court ruled that the images “serve as disclaimers to the public regarding the incontestable health consequences of using tobacco,” which the government has a right to impose.

    {mosads}The appeals court went further than the Kentucky district court by prohibiting tobacco companies from making health claims implying that their regulation by the Food and Drug Administration makes the products safer. In a blow to public health groups such as the American Cancer Society, however, the appellate court struck down the requirement that tobacco advertisements appear exclusively in black and white.

    The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the graphic warning label case on April 10. The challenge could end up before the Supreme Court.

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