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Today’s Headlines – January 5, 2012

Good morning! Here are some health headlines to get your day started:

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Opponents Try To Add Plaintiffs To Lawsuit
A small-business group fighting President Barack Obama’s health-care law asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to add two plaintiffs to its lawsuit after possible problems arose with an initial plaintiff. The case moved through the lower courts based in part on an assertion by Mary Brown, the owner of an auto-repair shop in Florida. Ms. Brown said her business planning was jeopardized by the need to set aside funds to pay for her health insurance beginning in 2014, when a provision requiring most Americans to carry such coverage or pay a penalty takes effect (Bravin and Maltby, 1/5).

The New York Times: After Iowa, Obama Campaign Sharpens 2 Negative Portrayals Of Romney
The bigger conundrum for the Obama campaign is how to balance its two lines of criticism of Mr. Romney, particularly if he wins the nomination. Do they go the out-of-touch, protector-of-Wall-Street route or the flip-flopper route? In one portrayal, he is the greedy Wall Street type. … The other picture paints him as the weathervane-watcher who was for Roe v. Wade before he was against it, who said he believed that humans contributed to global warming before he said he was not so sure, and who said he was glad Mr. Obama was “copying” parts of his Massachusetts health reform before he said he would seek to repeal the president’s health-care overhaul (Cooper and Landler, 1/4).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: Obama Strategist Dismisses Mitt Romney As ‘Charlatan,’ ‘25% Man’
But Axelrod questioned Romney’s electoral viability, given his record of changing positions amid shifting political circumstances. Romney at one point supported abortion rights, but later reversed that stance. As governor he pushed through a healthcare system similar to the one Obama enacted. Yet Romney has called for rolling back Obama’s signature healthcare reform law (Nicholas, 1/4).

The Washington Post: Michele Bachmann Exits The GOP Race As She Entered It
After a last-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Michele Bachmann exited the presidential race just as she entered it, painting “Obamacare” as the socialist undoing of the United States of America (Henneberger, 1/4).

The Wall Street Journal: Bachmann Quits, But Perry Stays In
A day after lackluster showings in the Iowa caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann dropped out of the Republican presidential nomination race Wednesday, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent several hours reassessing his candidacy before announcing he would remain in the contest. … In her announcement, Mrs. Bachmann cited the national health-care law, one of President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives, as the primary reason she chose to run, along with what she viewed as a need to cut federal spending (Hughes and Yadron, 1/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: With Presidential Bid Behind Her, Minn. Republican Bachmann Must Decide On Return To Congress
Bachmann didn’t tip her hand about future political plans during her concession speech Wednesday in Des Moines but vowed to remain engaged in issues, especially in her opposition to changes in federal health care law. “Make no mistake: I will continue to fight for our country,” she said (1/5).

Los Angeles Times: Rick Santorum’s New Image Worked In Iowa
Santorum now sits squarely in the sights of voters, and perhaps more important, in the sights of his opponents, who are already framing their lines of attack: Santorum is a “big-government conservative” who supported initiatives of President George W. Bush that are deeply unpopular with conservatives, including the Medicare prescription drug benefit that created a new entitlement program, and the federal education program called No Child Left Behind (Abcarian, 1/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Santorum Touts His True Conservatism, But There Are Some Blemishes From His Days In Congress
Santorum also advocated big government programs in education and transportation and benefits for low-income people while in Congress. He now rails against big government, saying he wants to cut $5 trillion in federal spending over five years. He wants to freeze defense spending for five years, along with money for social programs such as Medicaid and education. … On social issues, Santorum opposes abortion rights (1/5).

The Washington Post: Private Insurers Increasingly Reliant On Government Business
Despite the sluggish economy, the nation’s major health insurers have prospered in large part by expanding their role in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to a study released Thursday. The share of large insurers’ revenues contributed by their Medicare and Medicaid business has jumped from 36 to 42 percent over the past three years (Aizenman, 1/4).

Los Angeles Times: Survey Shows California Healthcare Costs Rising, Benefits Shrinking
Fewer California companies offered their workers health insurance last year, and the ones that did charged employees more for their coverage. That’s among the findings of an annual California Employer Health Benefits Survey released Wednesday by the California HealthCare Foundation, a research and grant-making nonprofit organization (Lifsher, 1/4).

The Wall Street Journal’s Health Bog: Study: Continuous Insurance Required For Low-Income Diabetics
Even a small gap in Medicaid coverage can have consequences for diabetics, new research suggests (Hobson, 1/4).

The New York Times: Prosecutor In Brooklyn Investigates Hospital
The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has been looking into management practices at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, a money-losing hospital serving mostly poor patients, several hospital trustees said Wednesday (Hartocollis, 1/5).

Los Angeles Times: Motion Picture Home Plans Hit A Snag On Capitol Hill
After months of negotiations, the Motion Picture & Television Fund is close to finalizing a deal with Kindred Healthcare of Louisville, Ky., to invest in and provide long-term acute care services at the Woodland Hills complex that includes the nursing home. Under the proposed agreement, Kindred would invest $10 million to remodel an existing hospital building and would lease hospital and rehabilitation beds from the fund. … But the signing of the deal, which was originally expected to be completed by the end of 2011, has been delayed by uncertainty over whether Congress will extend a moratorium on the building of long-term acute care facilities (Verrier, 1/4).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: NY Gov. Cuomo Cites Boosting State’s Economy, Aiding Poor In State Of State Address
While outlining an aggressive agenda to boost New York’s economy during his second year in office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo advocated several measures to help the poor and dispossessed such as better access to food stamps, new offices to protect tenants’ rights and help homeowners avoid foreclosure, establishing a health insurance exchange and improving care for disabled adults (1/5).