First Edition: December 3, 2012

Published on December 3, 2012 at 8:23 AM · No Comments

Today's headlines include the latest press reports on the looming "fiscal cliff" and on how states are viewing the health law's Medicaid expansion.

Kaiser Health News: Insurance Surcharges Will Fund Most Online Exchanges Created Under Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Republican governors in Florida, Virginia, Texas and several other states say they're reluctant to build the online insurance markets required by the federal health law because they're worried about getting stuck with the bills" (Galewitz, 12/3). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the Sunday talk shows' partisan discourse regarding the fiscal cliff (12/2), the latest round of changes in the American Psychiatric Association's manual of mental disorders (12/2) and  HHS insurance exchange regulations covering controversial surcharges (12/1). 

The Wall Street Journal: Fiscal Cliff Talks At Stalemate
The White House and congressional Republicans remained at loggerheads-;in both public and private-;over how to design a deficit-reduction package, with just a few weeks remaining before the nation hits the fiscal cliff. … Policy makers are aiming to secure a two-step deal by year-end. The first would lock in an initial round of spending cuts and potentially make changes to the tax code that would take effect in January. The second would require policy makers to pursue an overhaul of the tax code and entitlement programs, with the White House setting August as its target date for the negotiations to end (Paletta and O'Connor, 12/3).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: White House, Republicans Play Game Of Political Chicken As Fiscal Cliff Nears
The White House says Republicans should come clean about how much they're willing to raise tax rates on the rich. Republicans counter that President Barack Obama's latest plan is a joke that avoids tough decisions on the nation's biggest entitlement programs, including Medicare (12/3).

The New York Times: Negotiators Leading Talks On Fiscal Crisis Defend Stands
The separate television appearances of the two men came after their private meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, when Mr. Geithner outlined the president's positions for about $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the first 10 years to Mr. Boehner and the No. 2 Republican in the House, Eric Cantor of Virginia. The specifics were the same as those proposed by Mr. Obama in his budget earlier this year, without any additional concessions. The proposal includes $1.6 trillion in new revenue from upper-income taxpayers; $600 billion in reduced spending for Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and other programs; $1 trillion in other spending cuts that the president and Congress committed to last year for the coming decade; and an $800 billion reduction in projected war spending, reflecting the winding down of American combat operations overseas (Calmes, 12/2).

The New York Times' News Analysis: Pushing GOP To Negotiate, Obama Ends Giving In
His approach is born of painful experience. In his first four years in office, Mr. Obama has repeatedly offered what he considered compromises on stimulus spending, health care and deficit reduction to Republicans, who either rejected them as inadequate or pocketed them and insisted on more. Republicans argued that Mr. Obama never made serious efforts at compromise and instead lectured them about what they ought to want rather than listening to what they did want. Either way, the two sides were left at loggerheads over the weekend with less than a month until a series of painful tax increases and spending cuts automatically take effect, risking what economists say would be a new recession (Baker, 12/2).

The Washington Post: Lindsay Graham: 'I Think We're Going Over The Cliff'
"I think we're going over the cliff. It's pretty clear to me they made a political calculation. This offer doesn't remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. It raises $1.6 trillion on job creators that will destroy the economy and there are no spending controls," Graham said on CBS's "Face The Nation." Graham had signaled a willingness to violate Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge to avert the "fiscal cliff" if Democrats made an effort to reform entitlements. But he said Sunday the White House's plan for entitlement reform was laughable (Sullivan, 12/ 2).

Politico: HHS Health Rules No Balm For States
Sure, the Obama administration is dumping piles of Affordable Care Act rules in everyone's laps now. The danger, though, is that the rules have been held up so long that the states' insurance commissioners -; even the ones that want to implement the law -; may have trouble making up for lost time. That's the word from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting near Washington, D.C., last week, where commissioners from around the country told POLITICO that the Department of Health and Human Services has left large holes in its guidance for states building insurance exchanges -; online marketplaces for individuals to access subsidized insurance plans (Cheney and Millman, 12/3).

The Washington Post: State Lawmakers Gird For Battle Over Medicaid Expansion
As state legislatures prepare to meet in January, lawmakers across the country are girding for a battle over whether to sign on to the health-care law's expansion of Medicaid (Aizenman, 12/2).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: States Wary Of Trade-Offs In Accepting Medicaid Expansion For Millions Of Low-Income Uninsured
health care brinksmanship, with hundreds of billions of dollars and the well-being of millions of people at stake. President Barack Obama's health care law expands Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income people, but cost-wary states must decide whether to take the deal (12/2).

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