KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Different Perspectives On Health Reform: Industry On The Sidelines; Alternative Options?

Opinion writers examine the secretive discussions in the Senate on the changes to the health law and the impact they could have around the country.

Modern Healthcare: A​ Perilous​ Moment​ For​ The​ Healthcare​ Industry
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to cook up a compromise that can cobble together 50 votes before the July 4 recess. That's why he's having the bill written in secret without public hearings or a Congressional Budget Office score. Contrast that behavior with the dozens of hearings held by the Democratically controlled Senate in the year before the Affordable Care Act passed. Every major interest group -- hospitals, doctors, insurers, drug and device makers -- had their chance to weigh in, as did leading Republicans such as Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, who won amendments in committee before voting against the final package. (Merrill Goozner, 6/17)

Huffington Post: GOP Senators Still Frustrated With Obamacare Repeal Bill, Still Doing Nothing About It
When the House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), its version of the legislation, Republican senators were quick to decry both the bill and the debate that led to it. They said the House had acted brashly ― hatching legislation behind closed doors and then rushing to vote before the public could get a good look at it. Republican senators also said the proposal itself was too harsh ― breaking promises to protect people with pre-existing conditions and taking insurance away from 23 million people, according to Congressional Budget Office predictions. Now it’s clear that the Senate process won’t play out so differently after all. (Jonathan Cohn, 6/19)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: There's Plenty To Be Alarmed About With Senate Health Care Bill
If Trumpcare passes, the average health insurance premium in Wisconsin will increase by an estimated $910 in 2018. Total health insurance coverage losses would average $416,600. People with pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS and women who've been pregnant) would again face discrimination in seeking coverage. The bill likely will reduce women's access to reproductive health care, defund Planned Parenthood (which is a crucial health care source especially for transgender people and folks of all genders with limited income), and even reduce coverage for kids. The House bill also used Medicaid and other cuts to give the extremely wealthy an enormous $836 billion tax cut. There are rumors the Senate measure would cut even more. (Emily Mills, 6/16)

The New York Times: How Did Health Care Get To Be Such A Mess?
The problem with American health care is not the care. It’s the insurance. Both parties have stumbled to enact comprehensive health care reform because they insist on patching up a rickety, malfunctioning model. The insurance company model drives up prices and fragments care. Rather than rejecting this jerry-built structure, the Democrats’ Obamacare legislation simply added a cracked support beam or two. The Republican bill will knock those out to focus on spackling other dilapidated parts of the system. An alternative structure can be found in the early decades of the 20th century, when the medical marketplace offered a variety of models. Unions, businesses, consumer cooperatives and ethnic and African-American mutual aid societies had diverse ways of organizing and paying for medical care. (Christy Ford Chapin, 6/19)

The Washington Post: Single-Payer Health Care Would Have An Astonishingly High Price Tag
Obamacare looks shaky, mostly because Republicans are sabotaging it. This, in turn, has rekindled calls on the left to create a European-style “single-payer” system, in which the government directly pays for every American’s health care. California lawmakers, for example, are considering such a plan for their state. The single-payer model has some strong advantages. ... But the government’s price tag would be astonishing. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a “Medicare for all” health plan in his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it. (6/18)

Des Moines Register: We Need Medicare For All, Not A Heartless Health Care Bill
As a cardiac rehabilitation nurse in rural Iowa, I spent 10 years helping patients recover from procedures like valve replacements and heart bypasses. I saw patients survive against the odds, thanks to incredible health care provided in our state’s rural hospitals. Now all of us in rural Iowa — including our hospitals — face a grave threat with the health care repeal passed by the House. The only way we’ll survive is by making sure our senators stop it. (Barb Kalbach, 6/18)

Bloomberg: Health-Care Investors Are In Denial 
The U.S. health-care system is full of things that don't make much sense. A lot of them are extremely profitable. One of these, recently highlighted by legendary short-seller Jim Chanos, is dialysis, a market largely split in the U.S. between two large firms, DaVita Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co KGaA. If the Senate passes a health-care bill similar to one the House of Representatives passed last month, then it may become easier for private insurance plans to stop covering dialysis, cutting off a big source of profit for these companies. (Max Nisen, 6/16)

WBUR: What My 90-Year-Old Mom Taught Me About The Future Of AI In Health Care
On the one side, organized medicine has to change its practice so that it can ingest the day-to-day or even minute-to-minute measurements made of our fast-growing chronically ill and aging population, and transduce these data into timely treatment. But without thoughtful and broad application of AI techniques into the process of health care, our already struggling and stressed health care workforce will simply be not able to meet this challenge. (Isaac Kohane, 6/16)

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