Morning CheckUp: September 19, 2011

Obama releases ‘millionaires minimum tax’: “Obama will not specify a rate or other details, and it is unclear how much revenue his plan would raise. But his idea of a millionaires’ minimum tax will be prominent in the broad plan for long-term deficit reduction that he will outline at the White House on Monday.” The effort will “raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.” [NYT]

Will also offer Medicare cuts: “On Monday, Obama is expected to repeat the offer he made Boehner to find significant savings in Medicare and Medicaid, though it was unclear whether he would once again propose raising the Medicare eligibility age.” [Washington Post]

Liberal groups rally to protect the program: “If the president comes out on Monday calling for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid benefits, the enthusiasm he’s built up in the last week will disappear in an instant,” said Daniel Mintz, campaign director for, in a statement. “The president gains nothing by negotiating with himself in the vain hope of attracting Republicans who have proven again and again that they’re not interested in compromise.” [Christian Science Monitor]

States travel to DC to discuss exchanges: “This promises to be another busy week in healthcare, beginning with the gathering of state and federal officials to talk about insurance exchanges. Leaders from the Health and Human Services Department will discuss exchanges with representatives from 46 states, Washington, D.C., and the territories.” [Sam Baker]

Meanwhile, some states are joining compacts: “State governors and legislators opposed to the federal health-care law are considering a novel approach to escape its provisions: joining an “interstate compact’’ that would replace federal programs – including Medicare and Medicaid – with block grants to the states.” [Kaiser Health News]

GOP’s repeal hypocrisy: “Republicans want to pull the plug on the health care overhaul they call “Obamacare,” but that law is arguably less a deficit driver” than the $7 trillion unfunded Medicare drug plan they are defending. [Associated Press]

Regional variation in health spending: “What causes regional variation in spending and outcomes? Previous research claimed that physician treatment norms in different areas account for much of these differences. Recent research, however, claims that most of these regional differences are caused by geographic differences in health status.” [Healthcare Economist]