KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The Fight Against IPAB; Chinks In GOP Armor On Health Care Law

The New York Times: We Thought They Were Worried About Costs
As part of their broader campaign to repeal health care reform, House Republicans are determined to kill off an independent board that is supposed to help rein in federal spending on Medicare. Their rhetoric is predictably distorted: charging that "15 unelected bureaucrats" should not be able to "ration care." In truth, the independent payment advisory board of nongovernmental experts is specifically precluded from rationing care, and Congress, not the board, has the final say on what cuts should be made (3/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Independent Payment Advisory Revolt
Public opposition to the Affordable Care Act has grown in surprising and unpredictable ways since the entitlement passed two years ago, but few would have predicted then that so many Democrats would repudiate so many of President Obama's core promises. Yet that is happening now, as Congress targets the 15-member central committee that is supposed to control health costs (3/9). 

Boston Globe: Maybe It's Not Mitt's Fault
What if the real problem is less with (Mitt) Romney than with the conservatives and Tea Party types he's having trouble winning over? One big starboard side objection to Romney is that he authored Romneycare, which, with its individual mandate to carry health insurance, became the model for Obamacare. And that's certainly true. But at the time, an individual mandate, based as it is on the notion of individual responsibility, was a well-regarded conservative idea. It certainly didn't make him anathema to conservatives when he ran in 2008 (Scot Lehigh, 3/9).

The Sacramento Bee: GOP Distortions On Health Law Sink To New Lows
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Republican presidential candidates believe that the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010, is crushing the American people under the boot of an oppressive government. … It would be one thing if the Republican candidates had some thoughtful ideas on how to improve the 2010 law – and the mosaic of health systems that we have in the United States that leaves nearly 50 million Americans without health coverage. So far, they've served up only hypocrisy and fear mongering (3/9).

Health Policy Solutions (Colo. news service): No Cost Remedies In A Cost-Filled World
Concerns about the cost of health care aren’t going away.  In an election year, the conversations will just get more heated. However, like fasting and bed rest, some of the solutions to high health care costs are in your control and can’t be outsourced to better drugs and more expensive diagnostic tools.  The toughest part of these solutions, and why they aren’t popular, is that there is no silver bullet (Gena Akers, 3/8).

Los Angeles Times: Rush Limbaugh's Blind Spot
Anyone who heard or read (Sandra) Fluke's testimony in its entirety would know that Fluke was hardly banging her fists on the table and demanding free birth control. Instead, she focused on the fact that contraceptives, particularly the pill, can have medical uses (even lifesaving ones) that have nothing to do with the number of babies brought into the world. Limbaugh, however, is not in the business of understanding things in their entirety. He practices the "skim and scream" method of political and cultural analysis (Meghan Daum, 3/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Sandra Fluke's Amazing Testimony
There are a lot of questions here that go right to the heart of ObamaCare. Why is the president getting involved in setting prices for prescription drugs in the first place? Where in the Constitution does he get that power? Why should people past reproductive age who are paying copayments for their heart or arthritis medication be paying taxes to subsidize free prescription contraceptives for law students? No wonder a lot of people would prefer, instead, to discuss Rush Limbaugh's word choices (Ira Stoll, 3/9).

Bloomberg: Fight Birth-Control Battle Over the Counter
Anyone -- a local teenager, a traveling businessman, a married mother of four, an illegal immigrant, even a student at a Jesuit university -- can walk into my neighborhood CVS any time, day or night, and, for less than $30, buy a 36-count "value pack" of Trojan condoms. … Contrary to widespread belief, there's no good reason that oral contraceptives -- a far more effective form of birth control -- can't be equally convenient…. If you're actually interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies rather than merely scoring political points, these are the questions you should be asking (Virginia Postrel, 3/8).

The Dallas Morning News: The State Of Texas Vs. Its Women
With respect, caution and clarity I propose the following: Let’s galvanize our spirit of statehood and rally on behalf of Texas' most valuable asset — our citizens. More specifically, our ladies and their basic health care. Cutting the funding to Planned Parenthood is a grave error and an act unworthy of our great state (Stephanie March, 3/8).

The Seattle Times: The War On Women Might Be Settled At The Ballot Box
Remember the good old days when women's access to contraception, abortion choice and education was a given? Few people talked about these rights because the dialogue had progressed beyond such debates. At a time when politicians should be hyper-focused on jobs and the economy, a ridiculous shadow war on women and their health-care rights has taken center stage…. Women make up 53 percent of the electorate in our state and a sizable percentage elsewhere. Smacking them and their health care derails a meaningful national discussion and prompts voter payback (3/8).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Grassley Ramps Up Health Plan Inquiry
Minnesota policymakers foolishly brushed off concerns raised last week by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley about the state's management of its taxpayer-paid medical assistance programs. They shouldn't make that mistake again…. Grassley is asking the hard questions that Minnesota lawmakers should have demanded answers to a year ago. Legislators need to follow his lead and ensure that Minnesota's nonprofit plans aren't profiting too much at taxpayers' expense (3/8).

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