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Today’s Headlines – Nov. 8, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations including analyses of how states move forward on implementing the health law and efforts by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders on solving the nation’s debt issues.

Los Angeles Times: Obama’s Win Means His Healthcare Law Will Insure All Americans
President Obama’s victory all but assures that his landmark healthcare law and its guarantee of insurance coverage for all Americans will be implemented, essentially putting an end to the Republican campaign to derail the law. Starting in 2014, millions of Americans should be able to get health insurance for the first time. Millions more who don’t get coverage through work should be able to buy a health plan that meets new basic standards. … That outcome — which seemed almost unimaginable this spring when the Supreme Court considered whether the law was constitutional — puts immediate pressure on many Republican state leaders who fought it. They must decide in days whether to implement it or have the federal government do it for them (Levey, 11/8).

NPR: Obamacare Is Here To Stay – But In What Form?
President Obama’s re-election and the retention of a Democratic majority in the Senate means the likelihood of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act has receded. So what now?  “The law is here and we should at this point expect it to still be here Jan. 1, 2014,” says Alan Weil, executive director of the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. Jan. 1, 2014, is the date the major parts of the law, like the new insurance policies available to individuals and small businesses, are supposed to become available. “The question is,” says Weil, “what does implementation look like?” (Rovner, 11/8).

For more headlines …

The Wall Street Journal: Election Removes Cloud From Health Law’s Future
President Barack Obama’s re-election removes the last direct obstacle to his signature health-law overhaul, but doubts remain about whether its intricate new insurance system set to debut in 2014 will be ready in time. … significant regulations must start flooding from Washington, including rules for how states and the federal government will operate new health-insurance exchanges where consumers can shop for policies. Also expected are rules spelling out that terms on which insurers must accept all customers regardless of their medical history, rules governing how insurers can vary premiums based on age and more information about new requirements on employers and individuals to buy insurance. One of the big concerns is whether states will be ready to operate their own exchanges by Oct. 1, 2013, the date set by the law for when people could start signing up for the new insurance options (Radnofsky and Mathews, 11/7).

Politico: Obamacare Survives — Now What?
Obamacare lives. It has now survived two near-death experiences. The Supreme Court could have struck down the law, but it didn’t. And with President Barack Obama in the White House for four more years, it’s not going to be repealed — or even gutted. Now it has to work. If it does, more Americans might come to accept it — and even be glad it passed. If it doesn’t, Obama’s legacy will be tarnished. And Republicans will say “we told you so” for years to come. Either way, Americans will now see what the law — the Affordable Care Act — is supposed to look like. The big pieces, including coverage of pre-existing conditions and the hated individual mandate, won’t kick in until 2014. Until now, all Americans have seen are the warm-up acts — like letting young adults stay on their parents’ plans — that aren’t really central to the law (Nather, 11/7).

The Washington Post: Obama’s Health-Care Law Still Faces Challenges After President’s Reelection
President Obama’s victory eliminated the last serious threat to the existence of his health-care law, but it didn’t remove an array of challenges that will ultimately determine whether the 2010 statute is a policy triumph or a disappointing muddle. Among the tasks Obama officials still face: protecting the law from budget cuts Republicans are sure to demand during upcoming negotiations, wrangling wary governors into going along with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and ensuring that the private insurance markets, or “exchanges,” at the heart of the law can be rolled out by the law’s 2014 deadline (Aizenman, 11/7).

Los Angeles Times: California Speeds Revamp Of Health Insurance Market
With President Obama’s reelection lifting a potential roadblock, California officials are rushing to implement the federal healthcare law and revamp the insurance market for millions of Californians starting next fall. Republican challenger Mitt Romney had vowed to overturn the Affordable Care Act, casting uncertainty over efforts in California to use billions of federal dollars to extend coverage to many of the state’s 7 million uninsured. Wednesday, California officials disclosed plans to spend nearly $90 million next year on marketing and outreach to millions of consumers who may become eligible for premium subsidies and other assistance under the federal law starting in 2014 (Terhune, 11/7).

The New York Times: Back To Work, Obama Is Greeted By Looming Fiscal Crisis
Newly re-elected, President Obama moved quickly on Wednesday to open negotiations with Congressional Republican leaders over the main unfinished business of his term — a major deficit-reduction deal to avert a looming fiscal crisis — as he began preparing for a second term that will include significant cabinet changes. … Speaking for Republicans after a conference call with his Congressional colleagues, (Speaker John) Boehner said he was ready to accept a budget deal that raised federal revenues, but not the top rates on high incomes. And the deal, he said, also would have to overhaul both the tax code and programs like Medicare and Medicaid, whose growth as the population ages is driving projections of unsustainable future debt (Calmes and Baker, 11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Maps Out His Second Term
President Barack Obama turned his focus Wednesday to how he will work with Congress in his second term, while also preparing for the expected departure of many senior administration officials. … One of Mr. Obama’s chief goals is to accomplish what he was unable to do in a first term—make major policy strides while working with Republicans, who retained control of the House in Tuesday’s election. People close to Mr. Obama said he was looking to send a message to congressional Republicans and to members of his own party, some of whom may see his re-election as a mandate for commitment to their own approach, that he is willing to reach compromises on major initiatives. … But even beyond Mr. Obama’s challenge in negotiating with Republicans, it’s not clear how enthusiastically congressional Democrats will back his agenda, especially if it involves compromising with Republicans on longstanding positions on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Democrats have long complained that Mr. Obama’s White House rarely reaches out to them, and many House Democrats believe the president expended little effort helping them in the recent election, a sentiment that is not likely to make his outreach any easier (Lee and Nicholas, 11/7).

Los Angeles Times: House Speaker John Boehner Softens Tone On ‘Fiscal Cliff’
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) made an opening offer Wednesday to avert an impending fiscal showdown, softening his party’s confrontational tone one day after its electoral losses. But he stood by the GOP’s core no-new-taxes pledge that has prevented a deal with the White House. The Republican shunned the bombastic approach favored by the GOP’s tea party wing and sought to portray his House majority as ready to work with President Obama when Congress returns for what is expected to be an intense lame-duck session. … Boehner suggested a stopgap measure that would buy time for negotiations to continue in 2013 on a broader deal to reform the tax code and entitlement spending, the so-called grand bargain that has eluded leaders (Mascaro, 11/7).

The Washington Post: After Obama’s Reelection, Overtures From Republicans On Debt Negotiations
Less than 24 hours after the election, President Obama and congressional leaders moved with alacrity Wednesday to show flexibility in solving the nation’s biggest economic problems and recast Washington’s often divisive politics. With a sluggish economy facing major threats, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) opened the door to increased tax revenue as part of a bipartisan deal to tame the soaring national debt. Republicans are “willing to accept new revenues,” Boehner said, suggesting he is willing to break with the orthodoxy of many influential Republicans out of a desire to “do what’s best for our country.” … But a huge gap still remains, with the White House on Wednesday claiming an electoral mandate to pursue its tax policies and Republicans remaining opposed to any proposals for raising tax rates on the wealthy. Beyond tax policy, there are also divisions over what types of changes, if any, to make to federal entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security (Goldfarb and Montgomery, 11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: CEOs Vow To Work With Obama Team
Business leaders pledged cooperation with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, hoping to reset their relationship after a campaign season marked by White House criticism of corporations and the wealthy. As an overture to the re-elected president, some business leaders said their Republican allies in Congress will have to temper their expectations on some major issues that have divided the two parties. … Even before the election, more than 80 chief executives had publicly called for a comprehensive deficit-reduction agreement that includes higher taxes and an overhaul of entitlements such as Medicare. Mr. Obama also proposes raising taxes as part of a deal, but many Republicans oppose the idea (McKinnon, Nelson and Mattioli, 11/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Alan Simpson: Leaders Know What to Do, Now Do It
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), who co-chaired the White House’s 2010 deficit-reduction panel, said Democrats and Republicans should pivot quickly from Tuesday’s election and start forging a deficit-reduction deal to avoid sharp spending cuts and tax increases in 2013. “Move on, pull up your socks,” the eternally loquacious Mr. Simpson said. “They’ve got nowhere to go between now and Dec. 31.” Mr. Simpson said in an interview that he didn’t care what deficit-reduction package lawmakers agreed to, as long as it was bipartisan and substantive (Paletta, 11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan Plots His Next Steps In The House
(Paul Ryan) will have to decide whether to wade into what could be tense negotiations between Congress and the White House over tax and entitlements, where making compromises could risk a conservative backlash. … The Wisconsin Republican joined the ticket as a polarizing figure, given his sharp disagreements with Mr. Obama and his plan to transform Medicare from an open-ended promise to a program more akin to subsidized private insurance. Those issues quickly moved to the back burner on the Romney campaign, particularly after an early blitz by Democrats on the Medicare overhaul. If the Obama-Romney race was a referendum on two visions of government—as Mr. Ryan frequently said it was on the campaign trail—the results were hardly a sweeping endorsement of Mr. Romney’s view. But the campaign gave Mr. Ryan national campaign experience that few sitting House members ever get (O’Connor, 11/7).

The New York Times: Senate Races Expose Extent Of Republicans’ Gender Gap
Republicans, hoping to gain seats in the Senate, knew that their limited appeal among minorities would be a problem, as would party infighting. But they did not expect to be derailed by the definition of rape. Comments by two Republican Senate candidates concerning pregnancies that result from rape — which came after months of battles in Congress over abortion, financing for contraception and a once-innocuous piece of legislation to protect victims of domestic violence — turned contagious as one Senate candidate after another fell short of victory (Steinhauer, 11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Pharmacy Board Head Fired Over Meningitis
Massachusetts’ health department said Wednesday that it has fired the director of its pharmacy board, after he failed earlier this year to investigate a complaint about the drug-mixing pharmacy recently implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak. James Coffey, director of the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy, failed to follow up on a complaint from the Colorado pharmacy board accusing New England Compounding Center of illegally selling medicines without a prescription, the Massachusetts health department said in a statement (Rockoff, 11/7).