KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Recommendations To Democrats, Cutting Costs, ‘Rationing’ Health Care

Back To The Drawing Board Los Angeles Times 
Democrats may not attract any GOP support for comprehensive healthcare reform by stepping up efforts to limit the growth in healthcare costs. But they will make the benefits of the measure clearer to a skeptical public (2/8).

Five Ideas For Getting Health Care Reform Back On Track USA Today
The only reasons for delay are short-term and political. It's expedient to punt. But Democrats are delusional if they think they'll inoculate themselves against attacks this fall by backtracking. No one wins by trying and failing. Nor, in the long run, does anyone win by simply stonewalling in the midst of crisis, as the Republicans have done. The problem still has to be solved (2/8).

Yes, Let's Talk About Those Republican Ideas Kaiser Health News
The idea that Republicans haven't had a chance to present their ideas on health care reform is a bit mind-boggling. Five separate congressional committees had hearings; each chamber had floor debates. That's hundreds of hours the GOP had to talk about health care, all of it in public view and televised on C-SPAN. And that's not even including all of the unofficial channels at the Republicans' disposal. Generally speaking, the party of Rush Limbaugh and Fox Television doesn't struggle to get across its message (Jonathan Cohn, 2/8).

The Full Cost Of Medical Fraud The Miami Herald
[M]ake no mistake: People who abuse the system by charging for bogus medical services, billing for unnecessary or inappropriate procedures or devices -- or even inventing patients and billable maladies -- are killers (Pascal J. Goldschmidt and Kenneth W. Goodman, 2/8).

Single-Payer Is The Only Answer To Health Reform Toledo Blade
I care for low-income patients in an inner-city Toledo clinic. My work there convinces me that our country never will have high-quality, accessible, affordable health care as long as private insurers make the rules. The best policy solution would be a single-payer system, such as an improved and expanded 'Medicare for All' (Johnathon Ross, 2/7).

On Health Care: 'Finish The Kitchen' The Washington Post
Democrats can finish the kitchen. Or they can face the wrath of voters who will wonder why the contractors they sent to Washington left all the wires hanging and the plumbing disconnected and useless (E.J. Dionne Jr., 2/8).

Health Care Reform -- A Plan In Search Of A Strategy Los Angeles Times
If Obama, Reid and Pelosi want to pass a bill this year, they can start by agreeing on a list of changes to reassure worried voters that their voices have been heard. Reid and Pelosi will have to persuade their fractious Democratic caucuses to walk in step, which is no small task. They'll need more help from Obama to do that. And Obama will need to appeal directly to the public to rebuild support for reform (Doyle McManus, 2/7).

Reform Can Be Simple, Or It Can Work St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The U.S. health care system isn't simple; it's mind-numbingly complex. So are the problems that beset it. ... The simple solution is to require everyone to get coverage. That means helping the many American families who don't earn enough to buy a health insurance on their own. What are you left with when it's done? A bill like those that have already passed in the House and the Senate (2/8).

Let's Get Rational About Health Care 'Rationing' The Baltimore Sun
As we embark on a path leading to universal health insurance, as we must, we also must begin to discuss the constraints that must be applied on the care to be provided. We must 'ration' health care and provide basic care to all that balances costs and benefits -- not only to the individual but also to society. Rationing end-of-life care and elective procedures might be a place to begin, but we also need a public debate on prioritizing that care. Let the debate begin (John M. Freeman, 2/8).

Put Health Costs On A Diet The Boston Globe
Paying for health care on a fee-for-service basis is an engine for inflation. Last year, a state reform commission came up with a better proposal: pay doctors and hospitals a fixed annual amount for treating each patient's particular condition, with quality safeguards. But for such a 'global' system to hold down costs, that annual amount has to go on a diet, with each year's increase ratcheted downward. Only in this way will patients and the doctors supervising their treatment have incentives to provide high-quality care in cost-efficient settings (2/8).

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