KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: CLASS Act’s Effect On Health Law; New Prescriptions For Medicare; Food Marketing To Kids

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Starts To Unravel
Now that one of ObamaCare's major new benefit programs has been scrapped, liberals are trying to make stone soup by claiming that the Obama Administration merely committed an act of "good government." They claim that when this long-term care insurance program proved to be unworkable, the Administration conceded as much, and now it's gone. So let's review the evidence, not least because it so perfectly illustrates the recklessness that produced the Affordable Care Act (10/17).

Kaiser Health News: CLASS Long-Term Care Insurance Is Dead, But What Comes Next?
But while CLASS may have disappeared, the challenge of financing the long-term care needs of 20 million Americans over the next few decades has not (Howard Gleckman, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: A Doctor's Vision For Medicare
I am a physician who has been studying Medicare data throughout my professional life. But now that I'm closing in on becoming a beneficiary, I am thinking more about what I'd like my Medicare program to look like (H. Gilbert Welch, 10/16).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Vision For Health Care: Put The States In Charge
The costs of our current system are too high and will soar as the baby boomers retire. The Medicare Trustees have estimated that the nation faces $89 trillion of unfunded Medicare liabilities for current and future retirees. Yet despite the glaring shortcomings of American medical care, reform is impeded by public misconceptions. We conceive of medical treatment as positive, by definition, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. It's essential that we reduce Medicare costs, but we can do this only by reimagining health care (Victor M. Sandler, 10/15).

Houston Chronicle: True Or False: The Uninsured Get The Care They Need In Emergency Rooms
Being uninsured can't be that bad, right? In fact, President George W. Bush said, "People have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room."…. But ERs are surely not the best place to get preventive or ongoing care. About half of uninsured adults have a chronic disease like cancer, heart disease or diabetes. The lack of regular care for the uninsured is why they have death rates 25 percent higher than those with insurance; more than half of uninsured diabetics go without needed medical care; those with breast and colon cancer have a 35 percent to 50 percent higher chance of dying from their disease; and they are three times more likely to postpone needed care for pregnancy (Arthur Garson Jr. and Carolyn Long Engelhard, 10/15).

Boston Globe: Lack Of Information Isn't Bliss When Seeking Prostate Test
For men over 50, the PSA test for possible prostate cancer has been a regular part of an annual physical. Now a government panel says it's time to end that practice. But while the test can lead to overtreatment of some prostate patients — and all patients and doctors could use some reassurance that, in a variety of circumstances, holding off on tests and treatments may be the wisest course — this recommendation is too sweeping (10/17).

The Miami Herald: Let's Stop This Killer
Breast cancer does not single out women of any particular race or ethnicity, and men also face a risk. This month of education, prevention and memorial can help save lives. Spread the word (10/14).

Chicago Tribune: Dr. Raju's To-Do List For Cook County Health System
Dr. Ramanathan Raju has been CEO of Cook County's health system for barely enough time to learn employees' names and figure out where his parking spot is. But he's going to need a steep learning curve. His first order of business is critical: Stop the money hemorrhage in county health care (10/17).

The Chicago Sun Times: Docs Say More Cuts Bad For County Health Care
This is the blessing of a budget deficit. Under the right leadership, such as that of (Cook County Board President Toni) Preckwinkle and the independent board that runs the health system, governments are forced to stop their maddening practice of wasting money. But at some point, the cutting can go too far. And that’s where the doctors and the health system board think they are headed (10/16). 

USA Today: Editorial: Food Fight Over Marketing To Kids Misses Mark
Only when consumers signal that they want something healthier will the industry change food content. And in fits and starts, that has begun to happen. It's one reason trans fats have all but disappeared from grocery shelves (10/16).

USA Today: Opposing View: Ban Food Marketing To Kids
The food, media and advertising industries' well-funded assault on the federal government's proposed voluntary guidelines for food marketing to children has paid off. Last Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission agreed to weaken the proposal. The beleaguered agency now says industry is making strides, but there's little doubt that its change-of-heart is the result of a massive lobbying effort aimed at Congress (Josh Golin, 10/16).

The Kansas City Star: Kline's Abortion Records Tactics Deserve Rebuke
Preventing Phill Kline from practicing law in Kansas would be the appropriate penalty for repeated violations of legal rules during his shrill and unfair attack on the state's abortion laws. The Kansas Supreme Court should uphold the indefinite suspension of Kline's license, as recommended by a Kansas disciplinary panel. Surprising no one, the former state attorney general and Johnson County district attorney continues to play the martyr, insisting he's being persecuted for his investigations of "politically powerful people." What nonsense.  In reality, Kline's harassment of women seeking legal abortions in Kansas — and medical personnel who provided those abortions — was completely out of bounds (10/16).

Modern Healthcare: Point-Of-Care Eligibility Tests Help Steer Patients To Right Insurance Programs
With the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures citing rising numbers of the uninsured, all eyes are again looking at what can be done to help this population. Meanwhile, studies have shown nearly one-third of the estimated 50 million uninsured Americans qualify for free or low-cost government-sponsored health insurance programs but aren't signed up. As a result, millions of eligible Americans are using hospital emergency rooms for their primary care, resulting in hospitals experiencing millions of dollars in losses (Phil Lebherz, 10/17).

Modern Healthcare: Don't Delay On ACO Push
As the CMS prepares to issue the second round of the regulations for its accountable care organization initiative, known as the Medicare Shared Savings Program, healthcare organizations and political pundits are waiting to see if the many questions raised by the structure and risk described in the first round of draft regulations have been addressed. Without sufficient participation in these Medicare programs, it is not clear if government can drive a movement toward "accountable care" fast enough to meet the needs of our challenged healthcare system (Dr. Gene Lindsey, 10/14).

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