KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: More Commentary On The Berwick Appointment, The Financial And Political Costs Of Health Reform, Thoughts On Hospital Consolidation

With Donald Berwick's Appointment, The Doctor Is (Finally) In The Washington Post
President Obama got serious this week about the ticking time bomb in his new health-care legislation -- the lack of any clear plan to reduce costs and improve quality. What he did was install someone who can use our behemoth Medicare and Medicaid programs as laboratories for change -- so that reform doesn't bankrupt the country (David Ignatius, 7/9).

Obama's Cynical Recess Appointment Of Donald Berwick The Washington Post
As a matter of good government, the president's move to snub the Senate and install Berwick by recess appointment was outrageous. … A recess appointment should be a last step in cases of egregious delay, not one of the first. That standard was nowhere near met in Berwick's case (Ruth Marcus, 7/8).

Stealth Appointee 'Loves' Britain's Health System The Baltimore Sun
Recess appointments have been often used by presidents of both parties to place in office controversial nominees. Why is this one particularly troublesome to Republicans? For one thing, Dr. Berwick is an unabashed admirer of the notorious National Health Service in Great Britain (Ron Smith, 7/9). 

Financial Tricks, The Deficit And The Health Care Bill Fox News
President Obama made one unshakable pledge about the health care bill. As the debate began, he said last fall, "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future. I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period." But it took some financial tricks to keep that pledge (Jim Angle, 7/8).

The Price Of RomneyCare Reason Magazine
What reformers in both Massachusetts and Washington did was to identify two genuine problems with the U.S. insurance system: rising costs and lack of coverage. But then they argued that addressing the latter was the best way to solve the former. The U.S. system has, for a while, suffered problems with both cost and coverage. But the solution offered by liberal reformers-solve the cost problem by expanding coverage-has never made much sense (Peter Suderman, 7/8).

The Town Hall Revolt, One Year Later Wall Street Journal
The president, of course, got his victory on health care. But a funny thing is, normally the press and the public judge a president's effectiveness in large part by legislative victories-whether he has "the ability to get his program through Congress." Winning brings winning, which increases popularity. Mr. Obama won on more than health care; he won on the stimulus package and the Detroit bailout. And yet his poll numbers continue to float downward (Peggy Noonan, 7/9).

Connect These Dots To Form A Hospital Chain The Washington Post
Not long ago, community hospitals were run in the interest of the community -- not the doctors, not the administrators and certainly not the giant health-care organizations. Hospital consolidation is now a reality and a necessity, but what we are learning is that we can't rely solely on the invisible hand of the market to deliver what's best for the entire community and the larger health-care system (Steven Pearlstein, 7/9).

Implications Of Health Reform For The Medical Technology Industry Health Affairs
The changes included in health reform include both positives and negatives for the [medical technology] industry, but, on balance, the industry is likely to thrive in the new era. However, the protection of innovation is a crucial issue for both the industry and current and future patients, who depend on medical progress for longer and healthier lives (David Nexon and Stephen Ubl, 7/9).

How The Center For Medicare And Medicaid Innovation Should Test Accountable Care Organizations Health Affairs
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create a national voluntary program for accountable care organizations (ACOs) by January 2012. ACOs are provider groups that accept responsibility for the cost and quality of care delivered to a specific population of patients cared for by the groups' clinicians. … Combined with payment reform, ACOs are seen as one way to reduce the rate of increase in health care costs over time, while also improving the coordination and quality of care for patients. Bending the cost curve will be necessary if the expansion of health insurance coverage to an estimated thirty-two million Americans is to be affordable over time (Stephen Shortell, Lawrence Casalino, Elliott Fisher, 7/9).

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