KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Politics Distorting Views Of The Health System; U.S. Is More Efficient Than Most People Think

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare Reform Is About Lives, Not Just Politics
If health insurers can keep denying coverage to anyone, millions of Americans could be left to fend for themselves in a system that openly discriminates against the sick and leaves many destitute (David Lazarus, 4/13).

Chicago Tribune: When Is Judicial Activism Appropriate?
The Supreme Court's consideration of the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has renewed debate about judicial activism versus judicial restraint. Liberals have warned that a U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating this act would represent unwarranted judicial activism. In response, conservatives have accused liberals of hypocrisy. After all, if liberals celebrated the judicial activism of the Warren court, why should they decry the judicial activism of the Roberts court? (Geoffrey R. Stone, 4/13).

The Washington Post: Waiting For Mental Health Parity
Every day across the United States, families struggle with the challenges of mental illness or substance abuse. The 68 million Americans with these issues include people of all income levels, all races and all political affiliations. Mental illness does not discriminate (Pete Domenici and Gordon H. Smith, 4/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Cancer Care Grand Rounds
A persistent health-care myth is that the U.S. system is uniquely wasteful versus the European countries that spend far less per patient as a result of tight government control. Only the establishment experts who spread this myth will be surprised, but new research shows American patients are often getting more value—better outcomes and longer lives—in return for those extra dollars (4/12).

Boston Globe: How Human Nature Drives Up Health Costs
Imagine you are at a dinner party. The conversation turns to medical ailments. Joe says his orthopedist ordered an MRI on his sore back and reassured him that nothing terrible was wrong. Fred says that he also has a sore back, but his doctor told him that he didn't need an MRI and recommended he take it easy. Fred says he will go see Joe's orthopedist. Last week's recommendations by nine medical organizations to rein in medical testing by "choosing wisely’" would help bring down the costs of health care. But is choosing wisely in our blood? (Lisa Rosenbaum, 4/13).

Reuters: Romney Should Be Proud Of Massachusetts Health Law
It's been six years since Mitt Romney signed the Massachusetts healthcare reform law. That law was a framework for change, a values statement about what we believe in Massachusetts: that health is a public good and that everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. Six years after its passage, our experiment in universal healthcare is working, expanding coverage while helping to control costs. Mitt Romney should be proud of the law he signed. As the one responsible for implementing it, I know I am (Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, 4/12).

Kaiser Health News: Different Takes: How Massachusetts Can Control Health Care Costs
It's been six years since Massachusetts put in place its own sweeping set of health reforms designed to expand access to health care. Today, more than 98 percent of residents are covered. Now public officials and the major stakeholders are debating the best ways to control rising health care costs and insurance premiums. Kaiser Health News asked Gov. Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Hospital Association President Lynn Nichols, Massachusetts' Health Care For All's Paul Williams and Massachusetts Medical Society's Lynda Young about their views on what's been accomplished so far and their take on how the state might tackle this next wave of policy challenges (4/12).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Controlling Health Care Spending — The Massachusetts Experiment
As debate rages on about implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), national attention is once again focused on Massachusetts, which instituted a similar comprehensive health care reform package in 2006. After expanding health insurance coverage to almost 98% of the state population, Massachusetts is now struggling to control increasing health care costs that threaten the continued viability of its reforms. This second phase of health care reform presents entirely new challenges. Whereas expanding coverage has popular appeal, cost control does not (Zirui Song and Dr. Bruce E. Landon, 4/12).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Value Of Mammograms
(R)esearchers reported that 15% to 25% of breast cancers found on mammograms would not have caused a problem during the patient's lifetime; thus, early diagnosis led to those patients being treated with possibly unnecessary surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. ... I am concerned that asking radiologists to raise their threshold for recommending biopsies will lead to an increase in stage at the time of initial diagnosis. ... I agree with the recent article's tenet that we may be identifying cancer in individuals who otherwise would live their lives completely unaware of their disease. However, of the 40,000 breast cancer cases analyzed in the study, 38,000 needed some form of treatment (Dr. Jodi Brehm, 4/12).

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