KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Different Takes: Recast Health Policy Debate On System Flaws, Patient Needs; Learning Health Care Lessons From Spain

Opinion writers offer views on how to move forward in efforts to reform the nation's health care system, including thoughts on what's right in Obamacare, specific ways its shortcomings need to be addressed and deep problems in the GOP's American Health Care Act.

JAMA Forum: Reframing The Health Policy Discourse
Among the many confounding aspects of recent health policy debates was how much attention focused on the wrong issues. The conversation devolved into a proxy war over the Affordable Care Act instead of dealing with the deep-rooted flaws in our health system. Behavioral psychologists would label this an example of the substitution heuristic: addressing a simpler question in lieu of the actual, more difficult one. As the Senate embarks on its own deliberations, potentially starting with a clean slate, will we have a chance to take on the more fundamental problems around health in the United States? (Dave A. Chokshi, 5/8)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Time Is Now For Real Health Care Reform
I am suggesting several ways we can change the discussion for real health care reform by agreeing on immutable principles and viewing insurance coverage in a new way to improve American health care for the people for whom it is intended: patients in need of care. As an optimist, I believe that sustainable reform can happen if we keep our patients at the center of all we do while building reform on three pillars. (Nick Turkal, 5/10)

The New York Times: What Spain Gets Right On Health Care
Countries that provide good primary care have better health outcomes and lower costs because they provide efficient care of common and chronic illnesses. In America, the high cost of medical education, a reimbursement system that favors specialists and a poorly supported primary care network have decimated our primary care work force. In the 1980s, Spain created taxpayer-funded community health centers located within a 15-minute radius of every citizen. This dramatically improved health measures and provided a good base of primary care for everyone in the country. (Carolyn McClanahan, 5/11)

The New York Times: Republicans Don’t Feel Your Pain
What in fact would the Trump-backed measure passed by the House last week actually do? The bill cuts spending by Medicaid by more than $800 billion over ten years. This enormous cut endangers continued coverage for millions of struggling voters who cast ballots for Trump. The bill also includes starkly regressive tax provisions. (Thomas B. Edsall, 5/11)

Los Angeles Times: Where House Republicans And Democrats Might Actually Agree On Preexisting Conditions
House Republicans kicked up a healthcare furor by proposing to let states remove the ironclad protections in Obamacare for millions of Americans with preexisting conditions. But their approach to the issue is, on one level, not far removed from what progressives have long advocated. Stick with me here, it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. No, the Republicans’ repeal-and-replace bill, the American Health Care Act, does not call for a single-payer system, universal coverage or anything so warm and fuzzy. What it does propose, however, is to dun federal taxpayers to make sure the sickest and riskiest Americans can obtain coverage. (Jon Healey, 5/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Fact Checking Health-Care Hysteria
After the House voted last week to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Democrats quickly launched a barrage of false attacks. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asserted that the bill would “gut” protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Never one to shy away from melodrama, she added: “This is deadly. This is deadly.” Apparently the GOP proposal is the second health-care bill Mrs. Pelosi didn’t read. The legislation makes clear: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.” (Karl Rove, 5/10)

Lincoln Journal-Star: ACA Replacement Needs 3 Key Parts
As Congress continues its attempts at replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it is important to discuss what a successful effort should look like. Most health policy experts divide a good plan into two buckets -- increasing coverage and lowering costs. Although the ACA did a good job on coverage by decreasing the number of Americans without health insurance to the lowest levels recorded, its major failing was that it was weak on lowering costs. The recent Republican effort is struggling in part because estimates show that up to 24 million could lose health insurance while making only a small dent in costs. (Bob Rauner, 5/11)

Arizona Republic: Don't Count On The States To Bail Out Ryancare
Counting on the states to bail out Ryancare is bad policy and a bad bet. Simply put, in terms of creating a sustainable individual health insurance market, Ryancare is no better than Obamacare and would face the same fate, for the same reasons. (Robert Robb, 5/10)

Seattle Times: Muster Bipartisan Compassion To Fight Toxic AHCA
Kudos to U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, and Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, for showing courage and compassion in voting against the American Health Care Act. Although the coldhearted attack on Obamacare narrowly passed the House last week, the two Republicans stood their ground and resisted intense lobbying from their party’s highest levels. Let’s hope there are similarly brave Republicans in the Senate, which should give the far-reaching AHCA more deliberation and analysis than the rush-job it received in the House. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, a wholehearted plan supporter, has some explaining to do if she expects to win re-election next year. (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.