First Edition: March 30, 2011

Today's headlines are focused on recent developments related to the congressional budget impasse, which stem in part from partisan disagreement regarding controversial "policy" riders that impose restrictions on funding for the health law and Planned Parenthood.

Kaiser Health News: Health Insurance Exchanges Already Making Waves
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "It seems like a simple idea: create new marketplaces, called 'exchanges,' where consumers can comparison shop for health insurance, sort of like shopping online for a hotel room or airline ticket. But, like almost everything else connected with the health overhaul law, state-based insurance 'exchanges' are embroiled in politics" (Appleby, 3/30).

Kaiser Health News Column: High-Deductible Plans: When Spending Less On Health Care Isn't Always Good News
In his latest Kaiser Health News column, Jonathan Cohn writes: "Redesigning insurance in a way that actually lowers spending and, by the way, promotes good health, is a lot more complicated than merely giving people 'more skin in the game,' as conservatives like to put it. A new study by researchers affiliated with the Rand Institute suggests why" (3/30).

The Washington Post: House Republican Leaders Turn to Moderate Democrats For Budget Deal
The basic outline would involve more than $30 billion in cuts for the 2011 spending package, well short of the $61 billion initially demanded by freshman Republicans and other conservatives, according to senior aides in both parties. Such a deal probably would be acceptable to Senate leaders and President Obama as long as the House didn't impose funding restrictions on certain social and regulatory programs supported by Democrats, Senate and administration aides said (Kane, 3/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Agree To Take New Look At GOP Proposals
The proposals, known as riders, would use the budget process to undercut policies backed by Democrats, for instance by eliminating money to implement the new health-care law, regulate greenhouse gases or help fund Planned Parenthood (Hook and Lee, 3/20).

The New York Times: Budget Fight Faces Hurdle Beyond Price Tag
The most visible element of the budget fight in Congress is the one over the scale of spending cuts this year. But increasingly, other deeply contentious policy issues that House Republicans insist must be addressed in any budget deal are as much of a stumbling block as the final dollar figure. They include efforts to take away money to carry out the new health care law, to limit regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and to cut federal financing for organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortions (Steinhauer, 3/29).

Los Angeles Times: Boehner's Decision: Compromise Or Force A Shutdown
If he puts the priority on GOP unity, he could force a shutdown that many strategists believe could be costly to his party. But if he goes for a deal with Democrats, the decision has the potential to splinter the new Republican majority in the House. Either way, the choice could define his leadership (Mascaro, 3/29).

The Washington Post: Revenues Up For State, Local Governments But Shortfalls Persist
Though the recovery in state revenues is good news for state and local governments, it has not been sufficient to compensate for the huge revenue losses caused by the recession. States also are coping with fast-increasing costs for Medicaid and higher education, while they are bracing for the loss of about $50 billion in federal stimulus money in the coming budget year (Fletcher, 3/29).

Politico: 1,000 + Pages Of Health-Care Rules?
Health care lobbyists and advocates are bracing for six pages of the health care reform law to explode into more than 1,000 pages of federal regulations when the Department of Health and Human Services releases its long-delayed accountable care organization rules this week (Nather and Feder, 3/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Data Spur Changes In VA Care
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in November started posting online comparisons of the nation's 152 VA hospitals based on patient outcomes: essentially, how likely patients are to survive a visit without complications at one hospital compared with the rest (Burton, 3/29).

The Washington Post: Washington Area Counties Reflect Health Disparities
The Washington area has some of the region's healthiest counties, such as Fairfax and Montgomery, but also pockets of poor health in the District and Prince George's County, according to a set of reports to be released Wednesday (Sun, 3/20).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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