KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Humane’ Effort To Help 9/11 First Responders; Does Romney’s Plan Provide Flexibility Or Fall Short?

The New York Times: Ground Zero Cancers
Federal health officials took a reasonable and humane step last week when they proposed to add 50 cancers to the list of illnesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund to treat and compensate emergency workers and residents exposed to toxic fumes, dust and smoke from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 (6/14).

The New York Times: The Political Contrast
Mr. Romney, in fact, helped reinforce the president's point with his own speech minutes before, in which he denounced virtually all forms of regulation, from ones cleaning the air to those preventing banks from engaging in the same destructive behavior that produced the Great Recession on Mr. Bush's watch. If only the government would get out of the way, he suggested, and stop trying to cover those without health insurance, or keep the groundwater clean, then jobs would magically reappear (6/14). 

CNN: Why This Election Is So Personal
Obamacare is providing vital health coverage for millions of young Americans, especially women and families. When the reforms are fully in effect, we will no longer be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition or charged more for insurance because we are women. We will finally have affordable access to preventive care, such as prenatal exams, cancer screenings and contraception. Health reform makes real the fair premise that our access to basic health care shouldn't depend on where we work, where we go to school or what gender we are (Sandra Fluke, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Arizona And The Entitlement Baby
Democrats are trumpeting Democrat Ron Barber's victory this week in a special House election outside Tucson as a "referendum on Republicans' policy on cutting Medicare and privatizing Social Security." "Every incumbent Republican" holds the same "vulnerabilities" on entitlements, explained a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo. The Arizona race hardly heralds a Democratic blowout this fall, though it does hold lessons for Republicans who think they can be just a little with child on entitlement reform. Mr. Romney's message on jobs and the economy, strong as it is, won't protect him from the assault (Kimberley A. Strassel, 6/14).

USA Today: Editorial: RomneyCare, The Sequal, Falls Short
Of course, RomneyCare's similarity to ObamaCare, which is highly unpopular with Republicans, became a tricky political problem once Romney sought the GOP presidential nomination. He now says the Massachusetts plan is right for his state but is a terrible idea for the entire nation. Romney has never made a convincing case, however, for why the country should have 50 health care systems. Is a heart attack in Montana really all that different from one in Massachusetts? (6/14).

USA Today: Opposing View: RomneyCare Is The Right Vision
The president's 2010 law is based on a government-centric approach to health care reform. The federal government, already heavily involved in regulating the health sector through Medicare and Medicaid, will have near-total control over all important decisions under the new law, including what's covered by insurance, where people go to access their coverage, and how doctors and hospitals should organize themselves. Gov. Romney has a different focus. He wants to build a functioning marketplace in the health sector where consumers call the shots and states have the flexibility to implement approaches that suit the needs of their citizens (James C. Capretta, 6/14).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Reforming Or Ruining Health Care Law?
With the Supreme Court decision looming, we offer two views on health care reform: A Morehouse School of Medicine doctor charges that Georgia congressmen who are also physicians fail their professional oaths by fighting to eliminate provisions from President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act that protect the less fortunate and those with pre-existing conditions. In a response piece, one of those congressmen doctors, Tom Price, says the law increases costs and reduces accessibility to care (Dr. Harry J. Heiman and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., 6/14).

The Washington Post's Right Turn: If The Supreme Court Invalidates Obamacare
In the next week or so, the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling on Obamacare. If it strikes down all or most of the president's "historic" achievement, you can bet the left will go bonkers. We can expect a gush of vitriol directed at the majority of the justices. More interesting, though, will be the rationalizations for why this is actually a blessing in disguise (Jennifer Rubin, 6/14).

Health Policy Solutions: Obamacare Will Have Lasting Impact No Matter What
There is still work to be done, but it’s encouraging to see insurance companies voluntarily changing their practices. When Coloradans can get the care they need, when they need it, we’re all better off in the long run. And, it doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 75 years old (Akers, 6/14).

Medscape:  Severability Of The Individual Mandate:  2 Lawyers Debate
This discussion considers whether the individual mandate is severable from the rest of the law. At the heart of this issue is whether the lengthy statute can survive as it was intended if the court decides that it is unconstitutional for Congress to require most Americans to purchase health insurance (Abbe R. Gluck and Daniel Woodring, 6/14).

Baltimore Sun: Health Care Catch-22
Maryland is the only state in the nation to enjoy a federal exemption that allows it to regulate how much hospitals can charge patients, much like the state public service commission regulates utility rates. ... You might think that a system that has served the state well for 35 years is something the federal government would want to see continue. Instead, Maryland now faces the loss of its federal waiver because, in effect, it's done too good a job in controlling hospital costs. It's a Catch-22 situation that makes the state look bad for doing the right thing, and it makes no sense (6/14).

Kansas City Star
: Why We Should All Cheer Bloomberg’s Soda Policy
We should be rooting for Bloomberg’s soda downsizing plan to succeed, and hope that other mayors and even governors have the guts to copy it. Seriously, nobody needs a 32-ounce soda. If you’re worried about staying hydrated — an advantage that the soft drink industry touts for its products — there’s this stuff called water. It’s really pretty good, and cheap right out of the tap (Shelly, 6/14).

Kansas City Star
: Kansas Law Helps Disabled Adults
A new law signed by Gov. Sam Brownback encourages employers to hire disabled workers by guaranteeing preferences on state contracts to businesses whose full-time work force includes at least 20 percent of people who qualify for Kansas Medicaid services because of a disability. Brownback, along with Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Colyer and legislators, deserve credit for trying to make a dent in a large problem. But the new law is unlikely to significantly affect the long list of disabled Kansans awaiting services (6/14).

Boston Globe: More Help Navigating End-Of-Life Options Can Improve Care For Dying Patients — And Reduce Costs
When informed, most people with an incurable illness prefer to limit aspects of their care. The truth is that much of the high cost of medical care at the end of life is really due to a failure of communication. I cannot see how an intervention that first and foremost leads to better patient-centered health care, and that happens to lower health care costs, is anything but a good thing (Angelo Volandes, 6/15).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Device Tax Will Cost Jobs, And Lives
The medical device industry is one of the few of our country's great industries left with a positive trade balance ($3 billion in 2010). ... It is also one of Minnesota's key economic drivers. ... Yet despite the public health value and economic impact of the industry, its ability to innovate and operate is under attack. Our federal government has targeted the industry through the Affordable Care Act by including a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices (Dale Wahlstrom, 6/14).

The Seattle Times: King County's Court For Veterans Is Money Well Spent
King County joined the ranks Thursday of jurisdictions with a special court for veterans — a welcome addition to the mental-health and drug courts already established by the county. ... The estimated $155,000 needed for the veterans court in 2013 will come from the Veterans and Human Services Levy renewed in 2011, said County Councilmember Bob Ferguson, the prime sponsor of the ordinance establishing the new court. That would be money well spent. Other jurisdictions with veterans courts report a low recidivism rate for those in programs where successful participation in treatment plans is linked to dismissed charges or reduced sentences (6/14).

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