KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Scarcity Of Dental Care; Surprise Budget Buster Awaiting States On Retiree Health Costs

The New York Times: Dental Insurance, But No Dentists
We know that too many Americans can't afford primary care and end up in the emergency room with asthma or heart failure. But in the debate over health care coverage, less attention has been paid to the fact that too many Americans also end up in the emergency room with severe tooth abscesses that keep them from eating or infections that can travel from decayed teeth to the brain and, if untreated, kill (Louis W. Sullivan, 4/8). 

Chicago Tribune: Surprise! You Owe Another $54 Billion
A second, often overlooked time bomb merrily ticking for governments nationwide is the cost of health insurance for all those retirees. That number, too, is hard to gauge, because health care costs -- like future investment returns -- are unknowable. Yet governments typically don't put aside money for future health care, as they do for future pensions. The culture is to pay-as-you-go (4/8).

Chicago Tribune: Saving Medicaid
Gov. Pat Quinn has called for $2.7 billion in Medicaid cuts in next year's budget. This week, the governor is likely to unveil the details of how he plans to make those cuts in the state's $14 billion Medicaid program. Along with pension reform, curbing the rising cost of Medicaid is essential to restoring the state's financial footing (4/9).

McClatchy/The Rock Hill Herald: S.C. Gov. Haley Got It Wrong On Contraception
(Gov. Nikki) Haley volunteered: "Women don't care about contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families ..." … (But) it's worth noting that if women care about jobs and raising their families, they're also likely to care about family planning. ... The unwillingness of Haley and other Republicans to acknowledge the importance of contraception to female voters and the failure to recognize their distaste for a host of state bills requiring unnecessary and often invasive medical procedures before qualifying to get an abortion have hurt the party (James Werrell, 4/8).

Boston Globe: A Darwinian Campaign Season
The most pronounced signifier that emerged from the GOP free-for-all is birth control, and its contentiousness points right back to a lingering unease with, well, Charles Darwin. Abortion and gay marriage have long been hot-button issues, but when birth control tops the fight card, something odd is happening (James Carroll, 4/9).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: How Health Curves Affect Cost
If we are going to deal with the drivers of increasing health care costs, we need to decrease the number of people with expensive chronic health conditions. The U.S. has gotten away with its pay-for-failure strategy for many years because its economy was growing steadily and funds were available for rescue programs. But this kind of policy stance condemned many children to never reaching their biological, health and educational potential (Neal Halfon, 4/6).

Des Moines Register: Equitable Mental Health Care Is Key Concern For Legislature
For the last several years the concerns of mental health delivery have grown to a crisis level in Iowa, especially for those families trying to work their way through a challenging system of service delivery. ... Last year the Legislature provided the necessary funding to remove the wait lists for services, and started a massive reform effort of the mental health system so that Iowans can depend on consistent and equitable care -- and that the new system will result in no Iowan ever again waiting for delivery of mental health services. Legislators working on redesigning Iowa's mental health delivery system moved closer to completion last week as the House prepared to debate the redesign bill (Iowa state Rep. Scott Raecker, 4/7).

Detroit Free Press: Mental Care Shouldn't Be Police Work
As Michigan's mental health care system broke down over the past two decades, police officers, instead of mental health workers, became first responders to mentally ill people. When that happens, random stops and minor offenses can turn into prison or jail sentences (4/8).

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