Morning CheckUp: December 16, 2011

Congress reaches deal to avoid government shutdown: “Congress reached a tentative deal late Thursday on a $1-trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown as both parties continued to discuss extending President Obama’s payroll tax break.” “The short-term deal also would include a routine adjustment for doctors who serve Medicare patients, preventing about a 20% cut in payments.” [LA Times]

White House rejects Florida’s waiver: “The Obama administration has denied Florida’s request to waive a key health reform regulation. The regulation at hand is the new medical loss ratio, which requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of subscriber premiums on medical costs.” [Washington Post]

Michigan votes down exchange funding: “In an action with major implications for health reform in Michigan, the state House has voted to turn down — at least for now — nearly $10 million in federal funds to create a statewide health exchange by 2014 to sell more affordable, standardized health insurance to consumers and small businesses.” [Detroit Free Press]

Colorado approves exchange grant: “Colorado lawmakers moved forward Thursday with an $18 million federal grant application to set up an insurance marketplace required under the new health care law. Lawmakers voted 9–1 to apply for the grant on an issue that divides Democrats who advocate for the new health care law and Republicans who want to see it repealed.” [RealClearPolitics]


Advocates push for a public option in MA: “Five years after redrawing the lines in the national health care debate, Beacon Hill is looking at new reforms, closely studying payment system plans to lower costs and examining a government controlled single-payer model. “We will end up with a government option at some point. We will end up with a single-payer at some point, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if that point was now, and the place was Massachusetts?” said Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) at a Thursday afternoon legislative hearing.” [WWLP]

Health omnibus bill includes abstinence only funding: “House GOP appropriators unveiled late Wednesday an omnibus spending bill that sets aside $69.7 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s $700 million less than what HHS got for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 and $3.4 billion below the president’s budget request.” [The Hill]

Access to prescription drugs holds steady: “The proportion of Americans who reported problems affording prescription drugs has stayed level between 2007 and 2010, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change.” [Modern Healthcare]