Morning CheckUp: January 9, 2012

GOP candidates gear up for South Carolina: “Most of the Republican presidential candidates laid out their credentials as social conservatives in a debate on Saturday as the 2012 campaign prepares to move from moderate New Hampshire to church-going South Carolina.” [Reuters]

Government lays out health law defense: “The Justice Department on Friday formally opened its Supreme Court defense of the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul, and in a twist said the recent bankruptcy of the one of the challengers bolsters one of the government’s key arguments.” [WSJ]

Health IT spending on the rise: “Rising health care costs, the aging population and anticipated cost reductions and efficiency gains promise to make health care IT one of only a few bright spots in federal spending over the next few years. Contractors should find opportunity at multiple agencies.” [Washington Post]

CMS announces final round of waivers: “Health insurance policies covering about 3.3 million people may temporarily continue under the final round of CMS waivers for employer-sponsored plans that do not meet provisions of the 2010 healthcare law. The waivers, announced Friday on a CMS website, apply to health insurance policies—mostly for mini-med plans—offered to the workers of 1,231 employers” [Modern Healthcare]

Dems coud push for 1-year SGR fix: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Friday (Jan. 6) that seniors deserve to have the confidence that they may see their doctors for “the rest of the year,” possibly signaling that House Democrats will push for a one-year patch to the looming 27.4 percent Medicare physician pay cut.” [Inside Health Policy]

Hospitals saw profit increase: “American community hospitals posted more than $50 billion in total profits in 2010, an increase of more than 50% over 2009, according to the American Hospital Association.” [Modern Healthcare]