Morning CheckUp: July 18, 2011

Welcome to Morning CheckUp, ThinkProgress Health’s 7:00 AM round-up of the latest in health policy and politics. Here is what we’re reading, what are you?

Senate’s debt ceiling plan: “The emerging Senate compromise would build on a McConnell proposal to allow the president to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion in three increments over the next year. It would be linked to a Reid proposal to set up a bipartisan, House-Senate committee to devise a deficit-cutting plan—probably by the end of 2011, certainly before the 2012 elections, according to aides familiar with the bill.” [WSJ]

Governors worry about the consequences of default: “If the federal debt limit is not raised, several governors said as they gathered here on Friday for the semiannual meeting of the National Governors Association, the ensuing default will harm the economy, make it difficult for states to borrow money and delay some of the vital federal payments that states count on for everything from Medicaid to unemployment benefits.” [NYT]

Medicaid is still vulnerable to cuts: “Medicaid advocates remain worried that the state-federal program for low-income Americans remains on the chopping block as debt ceiling negotiations enter the final stretch,” particularly since the “Democratic leadership has at times left out any mention of Medicaid when vowing to fight entitlement cuts.” [Julian Pecquet]

Obama pushes for means testing: During his press conference on Friday, Obama said, “You can envision a situation for somebody in my position—me having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays—would be appropriate, and that could make a difference,” the president said regarding means-testing for Medicare beneficiaries.” [Modern Healthcare]

Drug cuts are also on the table: “I think that it’s very important for us to keep in mind that…the drug companies, for example, are still doing very well through the Medicare program. And although we have made drugs more available at a cheaper price to seniors who are in Medicare through the [health law], there’s more work to potentially be done there,” Obama said on Friday. [Kaiser Health News]

Will IPAB ever get off the ground? “The more interesting question is whether it will ever get off the runway,” said economist Robert Reischauer, one of the public trustees overseeing Medicare finances. “Can they find 15 people willing to serve under the conditions laid out in the legislation? Will the Senate confirm them?” [AP]

Mini meds receive more waivers: “The Department of Health and Human Services in June approved 39 one-year waivers—mostly for mini-med plan sponsors—from meeting a health care reform requirement that first restricts and ultimately eliminates annual dollar limits for essential benefits. HHS said on Friday that through the end of June, 1,471 waivers had been approved for plans with about 3.2 million enrollees.” [Business Insurance]

Medicare Part D costs falling: “Cheaper generic drugs will continue to hold down costs for the U.S. government, insurers and patients enrolled in the federal prescription drug benefit, according to a report released Friday.” [Business Insurance]

State bonuses for generics: “A bipartisan group of senators on Friday introduced a bill that would offer states extra Medicaid matching funds if they increase generic drug use in the program. The bill comes as HHS pushes states, which are grappling with ongoing budget deficits, to increase their use of generic drugs to help lower Medicaid expenses.” [Inside Health Policy]

Leavitt calls for Republicans to support exchanges: “Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a top supporter and adviser of Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges.” [WSJ]

Trouble receiving primary care: “Children with public insurance are 22 percent less likely to receive comprehensive primary care than those with private insurance, according to new research from the University of Michigan Medical School.” [Medical News Today]

Crisis pregnancy center bill introduced: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced a bill entitled the “Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women’s Services Act” (SDAWS), which would crack down on clinics (so-called crisis pregnancy centers) which falsely advertise themselves as a honest providers of information and services for women facing unintended and untenable pregnancies. [RH Reality Check]

Kansas’ abortion laws are costing taxpayers: “At a time when the state is slashing spending, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is hiring outside legal guns to defend state efforts to regulate abortion. Schmidt has enlisted two law firms that will be paid up to $300 an hour to defend two lawsuits, one brought by two Kansas City area abortion providers and another filed by Planned Parenthood.” [Kansas City Star]

Grocery stores won’t eliminate food deserts: New research finds that “access to a grocery store did not affect residents fruit and vegetable consumption or the overall quality of their diet. The researchers suggest subsidizing the cost of healthy foods and reducing the number of fast food chain restaurants.” [Kaiser Health News]