KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Different Takes: Obamacare’s Impact On Families’ Financial Health; Can Washington Get Health Care Right?

News outlets' editorial sections highlight policy issues in play as the debate over the GOP health plan continues.

Los Angeles Times: Another Little-Mentioned Benefit Of Obamacare: It Has Reduced Medical Bankruptcies
Here’s another benefit of the Affordable Care Act you may not have read much about, but is profoundly threatened by the Republican repeal effort: It has reduced the tide of healthcare-related personal bankruptcies. That’s the finding of a recent survey published by Consumer Reports, based on a poll of 2,000 consumers conducted this year and statistics showing that personal bankruptcy filings have fallen from more than 1.5 million in 2010 to 770,846 last year. (Michael Hiltzik, 5/9)

Bloomberg: Obamacare Made Americans Financially Healthier
A recent article in Consumer Reports said that the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has helped reduce personal bankruptcies, which have fallen by about half since 2009. The article also cites a bankruptcy lawyer who reported a dramatic decline in the number of clients who turn to the courts because they’re unable to pay their medical bills. It’s important to take conclusions like this with a grain of salt. There were other factors that probably had a lot to do with the fall in personal bankruptcy. ... Still, it would be a mistake to discount the ACA. (Noah Smith, 5/9)

The New York Times: A Health Care Bill That’s Bad For Moms And Babies
In March, when House Speaker Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans threatened to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I pulled a pussyhat over my infant son’s bald head, fetched my 6-year-old daughter from school and raced to a pop-up protest at the Capitol. The sign I’d quickly made wasn’t artful, but it was sincere: “I am a postpartum R.N. This bill is bad for mamas and babies. Vote no!” (Kyla Nguyen, 5/9)

Louisville Courier-Journal: GOP Health Reform: Failure Is Not An Option
If the 2016 election was a rejection of incrementalism as asserted in this space last year, then Republicans should fear what will happen to their governing trifecta should they fail to repeal and replace Obamacare. Failure is not an option in dealing with the Kobayashi Maru brought on by Obamacare. Republicans must get this right not just because of their campaign promises, but because of the underlying fiscal problems Obamacare has wrought on the budgets of working families and state governments. (Scott Jennings, 5/9)

Boston Globe: House Health Bill Spells Trouble For The States 
To see what House Republicans are really up to, start with Medicaid — and common sense. They would reduce Medicaid spending by some $880 billion over a decade. The program’s federal expenditures run about $550 billion a year. You simply can’t make a cut of that magnitude without major consequences. ... Republican governors understand the dilemma all that would present and are voicing their concerns. And unlike the House, Senate Republicans may just take those matters seriously. That’s encouraging — even if one suspects their biggest worry is for their own political health. (Scot Lehigh, 5/9)

WBUR: A Sane Alternative To The GOP’s Mad Hatter Health Care 
The American Health Care Act strips coverage from millions of struggling Americans. It would let states flee not only from Obamacare’s mandatory coverage of minimum, essential benefits but its requirement to cover preexisting conditions as well. States could herd sick people into high-risk pools, which would be underfunded, if the real-world experience that conservatives used to prize is any guide. (Rich Barlow, 5/10)

Cincinnati Enquirer: GOP Health Care Bill Threads Needle Of Compassion, Reality
With any health care system, it is critical we thread the needle of compassion and reality. As a doctor, providing options for the most vulnerable isn’t just a talking point, it’s been my job description for over 26 years. But the reality today is one-third of U.S. counties have only one company left offering insurance on the ACA exchanges. (Brad Wenstrup, 5/9)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Washington Is Never Going To Get Health Care 'Right.' 
Americans simply don’t want to face the harsh reality that, like any other good or service, health care is finite and must be rationed. If it is not rationed through prices set by the marketplace, it will be rationed through rules set by the bureaucracy. At some point, one or the other is going to say no. And that’s the one word nobody in politics is ever allowed to say. (A. Barton Hinkle, 5/9)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.