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Today’s Headlines – July 26, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including coverage of a new study that finds Medicaid may help people live longer.

Politico: White House Tailors Minority Health Care Pitch
The message: Blacks and Hispanics, among whom uninsured rates are significantly higher than among whites, stand to benefit disproportionately under the health law, gaining access to free preventive care and other services that will help reduce existing health care disparities. The sustained outreach from the White House aims to make voters eligible for new benefits aware of them and how to get them (Epstein, 7/26).

The New York Times: Obama Delivers Defense Of His Policy Efforts
President Obama wrapped up a three-day fund-raising swing with an emotional appearance here at the National Urban League conference, issuing a robust defense of his efforts to make higher education more affordable, to increase training programs for young people and to expand access to health care (Cooper, 7/25).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: Medicaid May Help People Live Longer, Study Indicates
As states consider whether to expand their Medicaid insurance programs for the poor under President Obama’s healthcare law, new research indicates the decision may have life-and-death consequences. A study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that residents of states that expand coverage will probably live longer, be healthier and have better access to medical care (Levey, 7/25).

The New York Times: Medicaid Expansion May Lower Death Rates, Study Says
Into the maelstrom of debate over whether Medicaid should cover more people comes a new study by Harvard researchers who found that when states expanded their Medicaid programs and gave more poor people health insurance, fewer people died (Belluck, 7/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Death Rates Vary In Medicaid Study
States that opted for larger Medicaid programs had lower death rates, according to a study released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings come as states struggle with the growing financial burden of the health-insurance program for the poor, and weigh whether to take part in its expansion under President Barack Obama’s health-care law (Dooren, 7/25).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Study: New Medicaid Expansion Could Be A Lifesaver
Until now, the Medicaid debate has been about budgets and states’ rights. But a statistical study by Harvard researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 6 percent drop in the adult death rate in Arizona, Maine and New York, three states that have recently expanded coverage for low-income residents along the general lines of the federal health care law. The study found that for every 176 adults covered under expanded Medicaid, one death per year would be prevented (7/25).

Los Angeles Times: Worries Grow As Healthcare Firms Send Jobs Overseas
After years of shipping data-processing, accounting and other back-office work abroad, some healthcare companies are starting to shift clinical services and decision-making on medical care overseas, primarily to India and the Philippines. Some of the jobs being sent abroad include so-called pre-service nursing, where nurses at insurance firms, for example, help assess patient needs and determine treatment methods (Lee, 7/25).

NPR: Flaws And All, Medicaid Can Improve Adults’ Health
Among the reasons some governors say they’re considering not expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act is that Medicaid is, well, not a very good program. … But a study just published online by the New England Journal of Medicine adds to a growing body of evidence that Medicaid, in fact, does improve the health of those it covers (Rovner, 7/25).

The New York Times: Obama And Insurers Join To Cut Health Care Fraud
President Obama and health insurance executives plan to announce a new joint effort on Thursday to crack down on health care fraud by sharing and comparing claims data, administration officials say (Pear, 7/25).

Los Angeles Times: Sandra Day O’Connor Defends John Roberts’ Healthcare Ruling
Attacks on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as a traitor to conservative ideals for voting to uphold most of President Obama’s healthcare law reflect a lack of knowledge about how the American justice system works, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said. “It’s unfortunate because I think comments like that demonstrate only too well a lack of understanding that some of our citizens have about the role of the judicial branch,” O’Connor said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday in response to a question from Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt). Roberts’ deciding vote provoked a backlash from conservatives, who had expected the appointee of Republican President George W. Bush to side with the conservatives on the court (Goldberg, 7/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Retired Justice O’Connor Says Attacks On Roberts Over Health Care Decision Are ‘Unfortunate’
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on Wednesday said attacks on Chief Justice John Roberts over his key vote to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul are “unfortunate.” She also said that Obama’s comments while the court was still considering the health care law — that overturning it would be unprecedented and extraordinary — were “not ideal” (7/25).

Politico: Tommy Thompson Haunted By Ties To ‘Obamacare’
Tommy Thompson has attacked “Obamacare” relentlessly during his Senate campaign in Wisconsin, calling the sweeping health care law a “budget-busting government takeover,” intruding into the lives of private citizens. But as a private citizen, the Republican had a much different experience with the legislation: He held positions with eight companies and organizations that either benefited from Obamacare, strongly supported its passage or were considered models for the national law (Raju, 7/25).

Los Angeles Times: Health Insurer WellPoint Cuts Profit Forecast And Shares Slide
WellPoint, which runs Anthem Blue Cross in California and health plans in 13 other states, lowered its 2012 adjusted earnings forecast to a range $7.30 to $7.40 a share, down from $7.57 a share. The consensus estimate of analysts was for $7.76 a share, according to FactSet. In contrast, rival UnitedHealth Group Inc. raised its full-year profit estimate when it reported second-quarter results last week (Terhune, 7/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: WellPoint Cuts 2012 Forecast As Health Insurer’s 2nd Quarter Profit Falls 8.3 Percent
WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer, surprised Wall Street on Wednesday by cutting its 2012 forecast and reporting second-quarter earnings that both fell and missed expectations. Investors then sent the Indianapolis company’s stock price on its biggest one-day plunge in more than three years. The insurer said it lowered earnings expectations after enduring a rough month of May and seeing enrollment slip. That fall was largely due to job cuts, which reduce the number of people covered by employer-sponsored health insurance (7/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Wellpoint Hit Hard But Supports CEO
In the wake of disappointing earnings that dinged the stock and sharpened questions about the company’s direction, WellPoint Inc.’s board made an unusual statement of support for the insurer’s leadership under CEO Angela Braly (Mathews and Kamp, 7/25).

NPR: Treating Everybody With HIV Is The Goal, But Who Will Pay?
The big question hanging over the International AIDS Conference this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment (Knox, 7/26).

Politico: AIDS Advocates Pushing For Medicaid Expansion
The expansion of the Medicaid program — or the lack thereof — has emerged as a major focus of U.S. AIDS advocates at the 2012 International AIDS Conference this week. An estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with the HIV virus — and 1 in 5 doesn’t know it. HIV/AIDS advocates say Medicaid expansion could help identify many of the infected people — and get them into treatment. It could also provide comprehensive treatment for low-income patients receiving limited care now (Norman, 7/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Bill Gates Pushes For More Advances To Fight AIDS
Much of the conversation at the XIX International AIDS Conference here this week is about how to use science already at hand to “turn the tide” on the 31-year-old pandemic. Over at his foundation’s offices a few blocks away, Bill Gates is reaffirming his faith in scientific advances yet to come. “Without much better tools it is not at all realistic to think you can end this epidemic. It’s just not realistic,” he said in an interview this week (McKay, 7/25).

Los Angeles Times: HIV Drug Resistance Is Spreading In Africa, Experts Say
Scaling up the distribution of HIV medication over the last decade has vastly increased the number of people receiving treatment around the world.  An estimated 8 million infected people received the antiretroviral drugs in 2011, compared to just 400,000 in 2003. But with this massive roll-out comes an inevitable and potentially dangerous consequence: The AIDS virus can more easily develop resistance to these life-saving drugs (Loury, 7/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Experts: Tackling Female Side Of AIDS Means Going Far Beyond Global Focus On Pregnant Women
The AIDS epidemic increasingly is a female one, and women are making the case at the world’s largest AIDS meeting that curbing it will require focusing on poverty and violence, not just pregnancy and pills. … She echoed what has become a recurring theme of the meeting since Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Monday that gender equity would be crucial to protecting women (7/26).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: 3 Hospitals Wipe Out, Limit Medical Bills For Colorado Move Theater Shooting Victims
Some of the victims fighting for their lives after being wounded in the movie-theater shooting rampage may face another challenge when they get out of the hospital: enormous medical bills without the benefit of health insurance (7/26).