KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Health Law’s Legal Peril; Barney Frank’s Misdiagnosis

The Wall Street Journal: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Insurance
Health-care reform, the impossible dream that seemed to become a reality in 2010, is now in mortal danger. Republicans want to repeal it even though the federal law is patterned after a Massachusetts law that their apparent presidential nominee signed in 2006. They can't do that, of course, unless they sweep the next election. So the clear and present danger comes from the Supreme Court, where a majority of justices seemed to snarl at the law in open session last month. Health-care reform is clearly in legal peril (Alan S. Blinder, 4/19).

Bloomberg: Barney Frank Makes A Misdiagnosis On Obamacare
Representative Barney Frank, who is not seeking re-election, gave a memorable exit interview this week to New York magazine suggesting that President Barack Obama "underestimated, as did Clinton, the sensitivity of people to what they see as an effort to make them share the health care with poor people." The Democratic Party "paid a terrible price for health care," Frank said. ... Democrats are wondering if it was worth it to lose the House in 2010 and perhaps the White House in 2012 over a bill that may be declared unconstitutional, anyway. The answer is yes (Jonathan Alter, 4/19).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Abortion Bill Fosters Safety
My experience in taking care of the vast majority of bleeding complications of late-term abortions in Atlanta since 1983 tells me that the bill tweaks Georgia abortion rights into the mainstream of medical opinion. Maximizing maternal safety now overrides the right to choose with regard to late-term abortion, something pro-choice advocates, in an effort to thwart attempts to whittle away abortion rights entirely, refuse to concede (Kenneth Braunstein, 4/19).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Women's Rights Imperiled
The old expression "the wolf at the door" aptly describes the recent war on women's health in Georgia. ... The wolf also can be seen in patronizing legislators who profess to know more about a woman's health and family than she does and more than physicians about the practice of medicine. Last month, state legislators passed — in the waning minutes of the session — HB 954, a bill to shorten the period of time in which a woman could seek an abortion (Leola Reis, 4/19).

Arizona Republic: No Contraception For Bad Ideas
The state House approved the bill allowing some businesses to opt out of providing contraception health-care coverage, supposedly because of their religious convictions. It now has to go to the Senate. Then the governor. It's a bad idea. It’s not about "religious freedom." It's about special consideration for religious institutions when they're operating outside of their churches in the secular world, a place where everyone should be required to play by the same rules (E.J. Montini, 4/19).

The Sacramento Bee: Backlog In VA Benefit Claims Is Shameful
Tens of thousands of veterans are coming home to California after serving with honor in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many are carrying the physical and mental wounds of war. The least our country can do is to give them the help they have earned. But in Northern California, it is taking ridiculously, unconscionably long for veterans to get their claims for disability benefits completed. Worse still, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, even as it acknowledges the problem, isn't doing enough to fix it. That became all too clear at a congressional hearing Wednesday (4/20).

Medscape: EHR: Forget Billing And Go For The Registry
I have a small practice in the Bronx, consisting of myself and a nurse practitioner, and we have had many adventures with different electronic records. I have been an electronic prescriber for more than 10 years and have thrown out more than I have kept in terms of programs and health information technology. ... When this type of situation has been studied, particularly the integrated practices, it has been found that these systems are driving up costs rather than dropping costs. It is not an information highway; it is branding. Many large institutions brand their electronic records so that they don't "talk" to each other. In New York, where we have at least 10 institutions that are the best in the world, their systems don't talk to each other (Dr. Robert Morrow, 4/19).

Denver Post: HBO's "The Weight of the Nation" Series And America's Obesity Problem
In a new documentary series, "The Weight of the Nation," debuting exclusively on HBO next month, we see the story of our nation's transformation to a land of overweight and obese citizens. It is a compelling story of overproduction and mass marketing of poor quality food, decrease in physical activity in our daily activities, and decreased accessibility of healthy foods and active places for many of us. The current food and fitness environment described in the series naturally produces an overweight/obese population, for which we are all paying dearly (Eric France, 4/20).

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