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Health stories in the news – Dec. 10, 2012

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By Stephanie Stapleton

The New York Times: New Taxes To Take Effect To Fund Health Care Law

For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week (Pear, 12/8).

The Washington Post: GOP Governors Seek Leeway On Medicaid Expansion

Republican governors are ratcheting up pressure on President Obama to scale back a key provision of his health-care law. In a letter to Obama last week, 11 governors asked for a meeting “as soon as possible” to negotiate for greater control over their Medicaid programs. Among other things, the governors want the option of expanding Medicaid — the state-federal program for the poor and disabled — in a much more modest way than envisioned in the law (Aizenman, 12/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Law May Free Some Workers To Switch Jobs

The health-care overhaul, whatever its larger merits, might offer some relief for individuals in their 50s and early 60s in the grips of “job lock.” That’s a term used to describe workers who are unable or reluctant to leave their current jobs for fear they won’t be able to find health insurance. Older employees in particular—who are likelier than younger workers to have health problems and who don’t qualify for Medicare until age 65—see that uncertainty as a “major barrier” to changing jobs or retiring, says Michael Thompson, New York-based principal of human-resource services at consulting firm PwC (Coombes, 12/10).

Politico: Supreme Court Takes Up Case On Generic Drugs

The Supreme Court will take up “pay for delay” — the multibillion-dollar dispute over whether brand-name drug makers should be able to pay generic drug companies for agreeing to delay putting cheaper versions on the market (Norman, 12/10).

Los Angeles Times: Surgeon Infected Patients During Heart Procedure, Cedars-Sinai Admits

A heart surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center unwittingly infected five patients during valve replacement surgeries earlier this year, causing four of the patients to need a second operation. The infections occurred after tiny tears in the latex surgical gloves routinely worn by the doctor allowed bacteria from a skin inflammation on his hand to pass into the patients’ hearts, according to the hospital. The patients survived the second operation and are still recovering, hospital officials said (Gorman, 12/8).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Ex-Con Says He Shoplifted To Get Health Care

A 56-year-old ex-convict says he purposely got arrested for shoplifting to get prison health care for his leukemia. Frank Morrocco of Amherst tells The Buffalo News that he stole shoelaces and other items from Wegman’s as “an act of desperation” because he can’t afford health care. He was released from federal prison a year ago after serving 20 years on drug charges. He was getting cancer treatment as an inmate (12/9).

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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