Morning CheckUp: August 31, 2011

Texas sonogram law struck down: Yesterday a federal judge temporarily blocked key parts of a controversial anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in May. The sonogram law would require women seeking abortions to view an ultrasound and listen to the heartbeat of their fetus at least 24 hours before the procedure. The law was set to go into effect on Thursday. [Reuters]

Republican governors propose overhauling Medicaid: Yesterday the nation’s Republican governors released a list of proposals to loosen restrictions and give them greater control over Medicaid programs in their states. While the plan does not goes as far as the Republican budget, which would have slashed $700 billion over 10 years from Medicaid, it does advance GOP priorities like repealing the requirement that states not cut their Medicaid rolls. [Healthwatch]

GOP tax expert to lead supercommittee staff: A veteran Senate GOP tax expert was picked yesterday to head up the staff for the congressional “supercomittee” tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit savings by November. Republican and Democratic leaders praised Mark Prater, chief tax counsel for Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee for nearly two decades, for being an honest broker with extensive knowledge of tax and health policy. [Washington Post]

Michigan to act on health care exchanges: Michigan is one of only a dozen states that has yet to act on the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to set up statewide health care exchanges. But that will change come fall, as Republicans in the Michigan House will take up the challenge, according to a spokesman for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R). [Michigan Independent]

Santorum hits Perry on HPV vaccine: Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum attacked the field’s new frontrunner, Gov. Rick Perry (TX) over his controversial 2007 executive order mandating that girls receive a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease HPV. “To require it, and have parents have to be aware of it and have to opt out, that is the heavy hand of government,” Santorum thundered. [PoliticsPA]

U.S. newborn death rate higher than 40 other countries: a new study of global mortality rates for newborn babies shows that the U.S. now trails 40 other countries when it comes to risk of newborn death with a newborn death rate of 4.3 per 1,000 live births. That’s a marked decline from 1990, when the U.S. had the 28th lowest risk. [USA Today]

Perry defends letter praising HillaryCare: During a radio interview with Sean Hannnity yesterday, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) defended his 1993 letter praising then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s efforts to reform health care. Perry said he approved of the intention to reform health care, but criticized the final product. “No one could have imagined the horrible monstrosity she cooked up, in fact not to be outdone until ObamaCare years later,” he said. [ABC]