KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Medicare At 45; The Politics Of Entitlement Spending; Deciding Health Care’s Value

Securing Medicare's Future Yahoo 
Forty-five years ago today, the creation of Medicare transformed our health-care system and our nation. It helped to make us a stronger and more prosperous country by freeing older Americans from the fear that sickness or injury would cost them their lifetime savings and security. ... The reason we have the Medicare we have today is that over the last 45 years, we have repeatedly acted to strengthen and update it for changing times (Kathleen Sebelius, 7/29).

After 45 Years, Medicare Needs Support Houston Chronicle 
Rather than cut Medicare, if we want to dramatically reduce health care costs and thus lower our national debt, we need to build on what works and expand to a "Medicare for All" national health insurance program. Every other industrialized nation has some form of national health insurance. They pay half as much per person, cover everyone and have as good or better overall medical outcomes than we do (Christine Adams, 7/29).

Who Decides On Health-Care Value The Wall Street Journal
The most important element in implementing ObamaCare will be the requirement for health insurers to meet what is called a medical loss ratio. This requires health-insurance plans to split the dollars they receive from insurance premiums into two buckets. Depending on the type of insurance coverage, 80% to 85% of premiums must be spent on either medical services or 'activities that improve health care quality.' … This kind of governmental micromanaging of health care-seen nowhere else in our business sector-is anathema to the free market. More importantly, it endangers the lives and well-being of millions of Americans (Newt Gingrich and David Merritt, 7/29).

Facing Up To Bringing Down Entitlement Spending The Washington Post
The need for entitlement reform is almost universally conceded. … According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending on mandatory health programs and Social Security is expected to grow from about 10 percent of gross domestic product today to roughly 16 percent in 2035. … Properly understood, the budget battle is not between big spenders and budget hawks. It is between those who want to spend larger and larger portions of the budget on health care and transfers to the elderly, and those who want to use budget resources for anything else (Michael Gerson, 7/30).

Health Law Needs Repeal Bloomberg
The new health-care law is a threat to the health of small businesses. Its heavy dosage of mandates and penalties will be a financial burden, and the law is riddled with hidden barriers to stronger job growth. … The law flunks the test of real health-care reform. Real reform would: encourage providers to offer higher-quality care at lower costs; reduce the cost pressures that underlie the bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid entitlements; and give every American access to more options for quality insurance. The health-care overhaul law is bad medicine and bad economic policy. From either perspective, the debate now moves to repeal, replace, retreat, repair and -- certainly – regret (Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Michael Ramlet, 7/29).

Health Care Reform Ultimately Helps Missourians The Missourian
It's a truism: A rising tide lifts all boats. The same idea holds true for health care reform; if we participate, all Missourians can benefit. ... almost everyone will have access to affordable health coverage and will be required to maintain health coverage by 2014. This last part, what is also called an 'individual mandate,' remains controversial. ... On Aug. 3, Missourians will be asked to vote on whether they agree with the individual mandate. ... as a doctor, I am constantly reminded that Missouri's health indicators (rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, etc.) are bad and getting worse. I don't know how it will all play out, but I am willing to give this a chance (Karen Edison, 7/29).

Make Hospitals Report Medical Problems The Des Moines Register
More than half of states require hospitals to report certain medical errors or criminal events - such as use of contaminated drugs or a patient abduction - to a state agency for further review or investigation. Iowa isn't one of them. It should be. And the Iowa Hospital Licensing Board should vote to support such a requirement at its next meeting in November (7/30).


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