Daily Rounds: Justices Consider Medicaid Cuts; Thinnest State Gets Fatter; Sewage Viruses; What's 'Essential' Benefit?

A Knotty Case Involving Medicaid Cutbacks (NY Times) —  "The Supreme Court started its new term on Monday with arguments in a difficult and consequential case over California’s attempt to cut Medicaid payment rates. The justices were not focused on the ultimate question of whether state officials were entitled to address the budget crisis there by lowering payments to medical providers. Rather, they considered the threshold question of whether the providers and Medicaid recipients were entitled to sue over the move." (

The thinnest state loosens its belt (NPR) -- "The obesity crisis is catching up with Colorado, the nation's thinnest state. Being fit is part of the culture in Colorado: there are biking trails and hiking trails and ski slopes and even the high altitude itself helps burn off calories. But waistlines are widening, especially among children. And in 2010, Colorado lost its status as the only state with an obesity rate lower than 20 percent. It's rate is 21 percent. (

Surprise in your sewage: Lots of exotic viruses (NPR) -- "You think your job is tough? Some scientists examined sewage from Pittsburgh, Barcelona and Addis Ababa in a hunt for unknown viruses. They found scads. How many? At least 43,381. To put that number into perspective, consider that up to now scientists have charted only about 3,000 viruses. And among the known viruses found in the sewage samples, only 17 were bugs that cause human disease — things like the common cold virus, diarrhea-causing Norwalk virus and human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer and genital warts."

In health insurance, what counts as essential? (Wonkblog) -- "This Friday, the Institute of Medicine will take a first stab at answering one of health reform’s most important unknowns: What counts as an “essential health benefit”? It’s a key question that just about everyone with a stake in health reform is waiting for an answer on. Under the health reform law, every insurance plan will be required to cover a set of “essential health benefits.” The Affordable Care Act defines 10 broad categories that must be included, such as “professional services of physicians and other health professionals” and “hospitalizations.” What fits within those categories is up to the Obama administration. On Friday, the Institute of Medicine will make recommendations on how to determine what’s “essential.” And by the end of the year, Health and Human Services will use those recommendations to put out regulation." (Wonkblog — The Washington Post)

This program aired on October 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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