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Today’s Headlines – Sept. 6, 2011

Welcome back from the Labor Day holiday! Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations include reports from a GOP presidential candidate forum in South Carolina and analysis of what to expect as Congress returns to Washington.

Los Angeles Times: GOP Hopefuls Court ‘Tea Party’ Conservatives In South Carolina
In a Labor Day warm-up for this week’s presidential debate, a partial cast of Republican contenders argued Monday for turning back the clock on legislation passed at the federal level, starting with President Obama’s healthcare law and going back nearly a century (West, 9/5).

The Washington Post: Know Your Constitution: A Tea Party Test For GOP Field In South Carolina
Republican candidates for president gathered here Monday afternoon for an unusual forum that explored their views of the U.S. Constitution and how they believe the government has strayed from it. … Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney called for the repeal of a raft of federal legislation that he believes overstepped the government’s authority, from the health-care overhaul to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. … And Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), in an implicit dig at Romney, declared that even a state-level health-care law containing an individual insurance mandate would lie afoul of the Constitution (Gardner, 9/5).

For more headlines …

NPR: Perry Skips S.C. Tea Party Forum, 5 Others Appear
[Sen. Jim] DeMint poked Romney on one of his thorniest issues: “You know if you’re our nominee, the president’s gonna say you implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts. How would you describe what Massachusetts did?” With less than a minute to respond, Romney insisted his law was much more limited than the federal, which he says is “Simply unconstitutional.” “It’s bad law,” Romney went on to say. “It’s bad medicine. And on day one of my administration, I’ll direct the secretary of health and human services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. It has got to be stopped and I know it better than most” (Rose, 9/6).

The Columbia, S.C., State/Miami Herald: Romney Tells Forum He’d Let States Opt Out Of Health Care Law
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who as Massachusetts governor ushered in a state health care system that required residents to have insurance coverage, said his first task if elected would be to let states opt out of President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan (Smith, 9/5).

Los Angeles Times: Congress Returns, And So Does The Partisan Budget War
As Congress returns to work this week, Republicans and President Obama are bracing for a new round in the budget battles that have rattled Washington all year and, at their heart, pose a simple question: What kind of government do Americans want? The nation’s finances are on an unsustainable course, with the federal government spending more than it takes in — like a family budget out of whack. Revenues simply do not cover the costs of running Medicare, defense and all the other programs Americans have come to expect from Washington. Something has to give (Mascaro and Parsons, 9/5).

The New York Times: Courts Put the Brakes On Agenda Of G.O.P.
(I)n a year in which expanded Republican majorities in many states have been able to operate without the usual obstacles presented by divided government — threat of veto from a governor, split chambers or even minority opposition large enough to force compromise — these court challenges amount to the first real efforts to slow the crush of conservative legislation. Federal judges have issued injunctions temporarily blocking all or parts of laws on contentious issues including abortion restrictions (South Dakota and Texas), financing for Planned Parenthood (Indiana and North Carolina) and immigration enforcement (Alabama and Georgia) (Sulzberger, 9/5).

The New York Times: A Congresswoman’s Cause Is Often Her Husband’s Gain
Federal regulators moved to shut down the kidney transplant program (at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas), but the proposed penalty brought a rebuke from Representative Shelley Berkley, Democrat of Nevada, who helped lead a successful effort to get the officials from Washington to back down. In pleading for a reprieve, Ms. Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation said they were acting on behalf of the state’s families, citing dire health consequences if the program was halted. But the congresswoman’s efforts also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital (Lipton, 9/5).

Politico: Battleground Poll: Obama Approval Rating Down Amid Deep Economic Fears
Congressional Republicans have also seen an erosion of trust since May in their handling of health care and Social Security, perhaps a reflection of the controversy surrounding the House Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget and overall push by the party to overhaul entitlement programs. But for congressional Democrats, fewer voters than a year ago trust them to turn around the economy and create jobs. … Yet, Obama now has the edge on values. Asked who best shares their values, 48 percent say the president, 41 percent say the GOP, which held a three-point advantage in May (Budoff Brown, 9/6).

The Washington Post: Defense Companies Target Health Care
Traditional defense contractors are increasingly muscling into the health care services field, hoping that the burgeoning area can help them weather reductions in Pentagon equipment buying. Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin and Falls Church-based General Dynamics, both of which already had health care practices in place, have ramped up their businesses in recent weeks with new acquisitions (Censer, 9/4).

The New York Times: Adjusting, More M.D.’s Add M.B.A.
Under heavy pressure from government regulators and insurance companies, more and more physicians across the country are learning to think like entrepreneurs. As recently as the late 1990s, there were only five or six joint M.D./M.B.A degree programs at the nation’s universities, said Dr. Maria Y. Chandler, a pediatrician with an M.B.A. who is an associate clinical professor in the medical and business schools at the University of California, Irvine. “Now there are 65,” she said (Freudenheim, 9/5).

The New York Times: Using Pretend Patients To Train For Real Crises
Created, in large part, as a response to the Sept. 11 attack, the New York Simulation Center for the Health Sciences is scheduled to officially open its doors on Tuesday on the third floor of Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. Supporters say the facility will be the most advanced of its kind in the city: a high-tech site where emergency personnel can train for just about any calamity — terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters — that can be replicated by a team of some of the most sophisticated mannequins to be found anywhere (Flegenheimer, 9/5).

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Health Official’s Dual Roles Are Questioned
Dr. Charles Sophy, medical director for Los Angeles County’s beleaguered child welfare agency, carries two cellphones in his pocket. One BlackBerry tethers him to his county job, where he is responsible for the mental health needs of nearly 20,000 foster children. The second — kept in a plastic case adorned with images of dollar bills — is reserved for his Beverly Hills-based private psychiatric practice, where his patients have included Paris Hilton, and for scheduling appearances on television interview and reality shows (Kaufman and Therolf, 9/2).

The New York Times: One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring
As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. … Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another (Mroz, 9/5).

The New York Times: F.D.A. To Review Safety Of Popular Bone Drugs
Two advisory panels of the Food and Drug Administration will consider on Friday whether to recommend requiring women who use popular bone drugs like Fosamax to take “drug holidays” because of rising concerns about rare side effects with long-term use, according to people involved in the review (Wilson, 9/5).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Tick-Borne Parasite Infecting Blood Supply: CDC
A tick-borne infection known as Babesiosis, which can cause severe disease and even death, is becoming a growing threat to the U.S. blood supply, government researchers said on Monday. There are currently no diagnostic tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can detect the infection before people donate blood (Steenhuysen, 9/6).

Wall Street Journal: Reducing The Risk Of Diabetes
Adults, middle-aged and up, can cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 80% by adhering to a combination of five healthy-lifestyle habits, a new analysis shows (Corbett Dooren, 9/6).

Also check out KHN’s weekend news roundups:

Congress Returns; Kickoff Of ‘Super’ Committee’s Scrutiny Of Medicare, Other Entitlements

Romney Faces Tea Party Critics, Especially On Health Care

For Perry, Romney And Huntsman, Health Care Records Highlight Differences