The Note: Google "Howard-Dean" and "SSMIP" for Three Hits . . .

A government panel has recommended that doctors and hospitals get an increase of 2.7 percent for their Medicare re-imbursement payments, which is less than the five percent they would have automatically received. LINK

Bush second-term budget moves = field days for Robert Pear.

State of the States:

The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly uses the dramatic cuts that Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) has made in health insurance for the working poor -- cutting 323,000 low-income adults from the program and limiting services for 400,000 others -- to look at the larger problem of what governors are facing with health insurance and the states. LINK

"The announcement sent shivers through health care advocates nationwide who see in TennCare's retreat the start of a bleak trend to scale back government-paid care at the same time the private sector is trimming benefits. A day later, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) proposed giving Medicaid clients vouchers for private health coverage, making Florida the first state to let insurers set benefits for poor clients. And this week, New York Gov. George E. Pataki (R) is scheduled to slash $1 billion from his state's Medicaid program."


We should have a good idea, by the end of the day, of the pace of absentee voting and registration in the U.S. for the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections.

The New York Times' Monica Davey has a nice national overview. LINK

Dems regroup:

The Boston Globe's Scott Greenberger wraps Sen. John Kerry's speech during yesterday's Martin Luther King Jr. memorial breakfast, Noting that his angry words about voter suppression and shortages of voting machines that kept voters in line at the polls for hours, he "exhibited a passion that many of his critics found him to be lacking on the campaign trail -- a change in tenor he and his aides promised in several brief post-election comments." LINK

He also began laying the groundwork for a continued presence in the electoral debate -- and 2008. "Without offering details, Kerry aides said yesterday that the senator plans to file legislation to correct some of the election problems that occurred in 2000 and 2004. Aides also said that a political action committee he started after the election -- a committee that could lay the groundwork for a second presidential campaign in 2008 -- would also be dedicated to preventing disenfranchisement."

Apparently, Kerry and his aides have a strategy for him to show emotion now when talking to voters about America's future.



John Podhoretz sees Rep. Anthony Weiner as Mayor Mike Bloomberg's most formidable general election challenger. LINK

If you missed the Sharpton Show yesterday, you missed a lot. Michael Slackman of the New York Times gets as much of the theater in the paper as you reasonably could, but there was SO much more (the Reverend's daughter singing for starters!!!). LINK



The New York Times (along with the Post's Fred Dicker) has the story, suggesting that tree-hugging Robert Kennedy might join a field that already sort of includes Mark Green and Andrew Cuomo. The Times explicitly suggests that the tabloids would like this to happen. LINK

Roll Call's hard-charging Chris Cillizza reports that the NRCC has paid off its $3 million in debt, and year-end reports will show them with $2.7 million in the bank.

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