The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 3:28am

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayce Henderson and Amanda VanAllen

HEALTH CARE / MEDICARE:
The New York Times’ Robert Pear: “Nursing Homes Seek Exemptions From Health Law” It is an oddity of American health care: Many nursing homes and home care agencies do not provide health insurance to their workers, or they pay wages so low that employees cannot afford the coverage that is offered. LINK

The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker: “N.Y. race is referendum on GOP Medicare Plan” Special congressional elections tend to be sleepy affairs, campaigns so condensed and out of step with the normal political calendar that they’re often missed. But they can be mirrors of the national moment, too, and that’s what’s happening in the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester, where a race to fill a vacant U.S. House seat has turned into a referendum on the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare. LINK

LA Times’ Katherine Skiba: “Newt Gingrich Slams Paul Ryan's Plan to Overhaul Medicare” Presidential contender Newt Gingrich took a potshot Sunday at Republican House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare, becoming the most prominent Republican to distance himself from the plan. Ryan's proposal, which was passed by the GOP-controlled House in April, would have people 54 and younger choose from a list of coverage options and have Medicare make “premium-support payments” to the plan they chose. LINK

Wall Street Journals’ Laura Meckler: Gingrich Blasts House GOP's Medicare Plan White House hopeful Newt Gingrich called the House Republican plan for Medicare "right-wing social engineering," injecting a discordant GOP voice into the party's efforts to reshape both entitlements and the broader budget debate. In the same interview Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Gingrich backed a requirement that all Americans buy health insurance, complicating a Republican line of attack on President Barack Obama's health law. LINK

ELECTIONS
ABC News’  Michael Falcone: “Mike Huckabee Exits Republican Presidential Race” Count former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee out of the 2012 presidential race. "All the factors say go, but my heart says no," Huckabee said tonight. "My answer is clear and firm, I will not seek the Republican nomination for president this year." LINK

Washington Times’: Ralph Hallow: GOP Fundraising Tactic Avoids Cash Limits” Republican officials are getting a first peek at what’s being called a “sky’s the limit” approach to funding the party’s 2012 campaigns across the country – from the presidential race down to mayoral contests. The timing couldn’t be better, given that the Republican National Committee is still nearly $20 million in the red 19 months before the 2012 elections and Republicans have no idea who will head their national ticket or whether the candidate will be any great shakes at raising funds. LINK

Politico’s Erika Lovely: “Dennis Kucinich ponders hitting the road” Not long ago, Rep. Dennis Kucinich was championing the anti-war movement on the presidential stage with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But now, the die-hard liberal who launched his 30-year career on a high note as the “boy mayor of Cleveland” has become something of a political outlaw on the hunt for a new House district reportedly as far west as Washington state and as far north as Maine. LINK

BUDGET
The Hills’ John T. Bennett: “Experts: House Panel’s Defense Authorization Bill an Illusion” The House Armed Services Committee planted the first flag in the 2012 defense budget debate last week, but Pentagon observers say there is little chance any other military spending bill will approach the size of its plan. The panel approved a 2012 defense authorization bill with a baseline spending level of $553 billion early Thursday morning, matching the Obama administration’s request. LINK

HOUSING:
The Washington Post’s Debbie Cenziper: “Speculators score, District Loses in affordable-housing deal” It sure looked like a good deal at the time. A nonprofit developer promised to spend millions renovating three rotting apartment complexes in some of the most blighted neighborhoods of Southeast Washington. It would be one of the largest redevelopment projects in years east of the Anacostia River, helping dozens of low-income renters suffering through roof leaks and winters without heat. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
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