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Today’s headlines – August 17, 2011

Good morning! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including a report about how the timing of the Supreme Court’s health law review is in play — will it happen before or after the 2012 election?

The Wall Street Journal: Election Looms In Health-Law Review
The Supreme Court is likely to decide by January whether a ruling on the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health law will come before or after the November 2012 election. … What isn’t certain is whether a high court decision would come before the end of its 2011-12 term next June. If the justices agree by January to hear an appeal, arguments likely will occur in March or April, with a decision before July. Under normal practice, any case accepted after January gets kicked into the next term. That would mean the resolution would come after voters decide whether President Barack Obama, the health-care overhaul’s champion, deserves a second term (Bravin, 8/17).

For more headlines …

NPR: Supercommittee At Risk With Campaign Donors
The 12 lawmakers on the new deficit-cutting supercommittee have their hands full. They’re under orders to bring Congress a plan for cutting the deficit by more than a trillion dollars, and to do it before Thanksgiving. At the same time, they’re also raising funds for their next campaigns, and that could be a problem if the supercommittee is under pressure to bite the hand that feeds them money. … In two weeks, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) has a fundraising reception sponsored by the political action committee, or PAC, for investment companies. They’ll be interested in tax policy, loopholes and a host of other things. And early next month, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, has a “food, fun & wine” event. One sponsor of the event is the PAC of the Pfizer drug company, likely to be concerned about Medicare and Medicaid (Overby, 8/17).

The Hill: US Chamber Urges Supercommittee To Go For Grand Deficit Deal
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday urged members of the supercommittee to strike a grand bargain on reducing the deficit. Despite pessimism in Washington that the panel will be unable to agree on even a bare minimum of cuts by the Nov. 23 deadline, the Chamber urged the group to overhaul the tax code while undertaking a fundamental reform of entitlements (Wasson, 8/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Plan Buyers Get A Look Under The Hood
Consumers shopping for health insurance will soon get a peek at a new standard form—akin to the nutrition label on food products—that will lay out the details of each policy, from deductibles to how much it might cost to have a baby. Federal regulators are expected to unveil the proposed summary form, part of the health-care overhaul law, on Wednesday, and the requirement is supposed to take effect next March (Mathews and Adamy, 8/17).

Politico: HHS May Have To Get ‘Creative’ On Exchange
While sorting out the policy kinks in setting up a federal exchange, HHS must tackle another problem: There is no money to pay for it. A quirk in the Affordable Care Act is that while it gives HHS the authority to create a federal exchange for states that don’t set up their own, it doesn’t actually provide any funding to do so. By contrast, the law appropriates essentially unlimited sums for helping states create their own exchanges (Feder, 8/16).

NPR: How The Merger Of Two Health Care Giants May Affect Your Wallet
You probably haven’t heard of either Express Scripts or Medco Health Services, but their plans to merge in a $29 billion deal, announced last month, may have an impact on your pocketbook (Lippmann, 8/17).

The Washington Post: Rick Perry Reverses Himself, Calls HPV Vaccine Mandate A ‘Mistake’
Religious conservatives in Texas were stunned in 2007 when Republican Rick Perry became the first governor in the country to order young girls to get a vaccine against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. The vaccine would encourage promiscuity, according to many conservatives, who had long supported Perry’s views against abortion and same-sex marriage. … Now Perry, who long defended the vaccine mandate, has reversed his position on the issue as he launches his GOP presidential bid, calling the order “a mistake” and saying he agrees with the Texas legislature’s decision to overturn it (Eggen, 8/16).

The Washington Post: Cuccinelli Might Challenge Warner For Senate Seat In 2014
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) said he might run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, possibly setting up a race against one of Virginia’s most popular politicians, Democrat Mark R. Warner. Cuccinelli, who garnered national attention for suing the federal government over the new health-care law, had said he would run for reelection or governor in 2013. But in an interview with The Washington Post, he said for the first time that he could instead run for the Senate (Kumar, 8/16).

The Associated Press: Tobacco: Graphic Federal Warnings Aren’t Fair
Tobacco companies want a judge to put a stop to new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and pictures of diseased lungs, saying they unfairly urge adults to shun their legal products and will cost millions to produce. Four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies sued the federal government Tuesday, saying the warnings violate their free speech rights (Collins, 8/17).

Kaiser Health News: Check out the lastest posts on KHN’s news blog, Capsules, including one man’s unusual plan to to reduce his health insurance costs.