First Edition: November 26, 2012

Published on November 26, 2012 at 8:19 AM · No Comments

Today's headlines include a range of stories regarding the future of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations as well as reports about the strategies that might now be used by health law opponents. 

Kaiser Health News: Minnesota Facing Bigger Bill For State's Health Insurance Exchange
Minnesota Public Radio News' Elizabeth Stawicki, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Minnesota's state health insurance exchange will cost $54 million in 2015 to operate, according to the Gov. Mark Dayton administration. The cost comes in at greater than earlier estimates of $30 to $40 million. The state would not have to find the money until 2015, when the state exchanges are required to be financially self-sustaining" (Stawicki, 11/25). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: How To Handle Extra Costs Not Covered By Medicare (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question about an unexpected bill a reader received after paying out-of-pocket for medical services not covered by Medicare (11/15). Watch the video.

Kaiser Health News tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the latest news on Medicare changes and the fiscal cliff.

The Wall Street Journal: Talks Over Fiscal Cliff Stay Stuck In Low Gear
Congressional leaders return to Washington this week facing the prospect that talks with the White House over the country's budget impasse have barely progressed, a reminder of the philosophical divisions that remain despite both sides' early professions of optimism. … Inconclusive talks among high-level aides have done more to define the differences between the two parties than bridge them, according to people in both parties. Republican leaders have agreed to boost tax revenue by capping deductions rather than raising rates. And senior Democrats have agreed to modest changes to programs such as Medicare. Each side has resisted ceding too much ground and views their adversaries' concessions as inadequate (Hook and Paletta, 11/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Influence Game: Fiscal Compromise Is Fine, Groups Say, Provided Members Don't Share The Pain
A big coalition of business groups says there must be give-and-take in the negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of massive tax increases and spending cuts. But raising tax rates -; a White House priority -; is out of the question, the group adds. … And there's no ambiguity in the views of the top lobbying arm for retirees. "AARP to Washington: No cuts to Medicare and Social Security in last-minute budget deal" the group's Web site declares. … So much for the notion of shared sacrifice as Congress and the White House face a Dec. 31 deadline to craft a far-reaching deficit-reduction plan (11/26).

The New York Times: Trying To Turn Voters Into Tax Allies
When Tea Party activists swamped town hall-style meetings about health care in the summer of 2009, President Obama's army of campaign volunteers largely stayed away, seemingly less interested in fighting for legislation than they had been in electing the nation's first African-American president. Now, Mr. Obama is seizing a second chance to keep his election-year supporters animated (Shear, 11/25).

Politico: Back To The Drawing Board For Obamacare Foes
President Barack Obama's reelection has ensured that Obamacare is the "law of the land," as House Speaker John Boehner declared, and it's forcing Republicans on Capitol Hill to rethink their years-long opposition to the health care reform law. The election has forced Republicans to acknowledge a harsh truth: The president's signature law won't be repealed in the next four years. By then, millions of Americans will be getting tax subsidies -; and those will be really hard to take away (Haberkorn, 11/26).

Politico: Time's Short, But Obamacare Foes Press On In Court
The window is closing for those who want to bulldoze President Barack Obama's health law in court. "It's going to become increasingly difficult because courts are much less willing to overturn something that's already entrenched," said Randy Barnett, the Georgetown University law professor who helped construct the Supreme Court argument against the law earlier this year (Cheney, 11/26).

The Wall Street Journal: New, Higher Hurdle to Deduct Care  
Starting next year, taxpayers will only be able to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. For years that threshold has stood at an already formidable 7.5% of income. (People age 65 and older can keep using the old threshold through 2016.) The change affects taxpayers who itemize deductions on Schedule A of the 1040 form instead of taking the standard deduction (Geer, 11/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Women Face Higher Costs
Shopping for long-term-care insurance is about to get even trickier for families-;and potentially costlier. Until now, insurers have charged the same premiums regardless of gender for the policies, which help pay for future nursing-home, assisted-living and home care. But beginning early next year, Genworth Financial, the country's largest long-term-care insurer, plans to start charging women applying for coverage as much as 40% more than men (Greene, 11/23).

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