KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Perspectives On The Health Law: Santorum Offers His Plan For Health Freedom; Cardinal Dolan’s Meeting With Obama; Dems’ and GOP’s ‘Misconception’

Commentators examine a number of issues related to the federal health law.

USA Today: Santorum: My Plan Offers A Better Way Than ObamaRomneyCare
As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we Americans need to remember that we have the freedom to make choices for ourselves. We, not our government, choose the food to eat, the clothes to wear, the ideas to believe. "ObamaCare" is the opposite of freedom. Under ObamaCare, the government, not the individual, has freedom. We can do better (Rick Santorum, 4/1). 

The Wall Street Journal: When The Archbishop Met The President
The president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops is careful to show due respect for the president of the United States. "I was deeply honored that he would call me and discuss these things with me," says the newly elevated Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York. But when Archbishop Dolan tells me his account of their discussions of the ObamaCare birth-control mandate, Barack Obama sounds imperious and deceitful to me (James Taranto, 3/31).

Denver Post: The Truth About Unintended Pregnancy
While the national debate over birth control ... continues, an important element of the story is being neglected — the truth about the consequences of unintended pregnancies in Colorado, including on the parents, the children and on taxpayers. Unintended pregnancy stretches the state budget, costing Medicaid in Colorado more than $160 million annually. Research shows that investing in planning and prevention saves money. For every public dollar invested in family planning, nearly four dollars are saved in unintended pregnancy costs (Judith C. Shlay, 4/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Rise Of The Medical Expertocracy
As the health-care debate heats up again in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans will try to convince us that they have the experts to answer all our health questions. President Barack Obama and the Democrats propose panels of government experts to evaluate treatments and, in the president's words, "Figure out what works and what doesn't." Republicans claim that the free market (that is, insurance companies with their own experts) will pay for value and empower consumers. Both sides insist that no one will come between us and our doctors. Democrats and Republicans share a fundamental misconception about medical care (Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman, 3/31).

Des Moines Register: Health Care Bills Can Make You Sick
Every one of my neighbors likely has a different health insurance plan. It might be Medicare or Medicaid or one of the thousands of different plans offered by hundreds of private insurers. Navigating all this requires scores of workers behind the scenes in health care. ... As The Des Moines Register's editorial page staff has argued for years, a single-payer health care system would streamline this process and save money. There could be one insurer, one set of rules for billing and less money being dedicated to paperwork. That is money that could be used for care (Andie Dominick, 3/31).

McClatchy / The Myrtle Beach Sun: Health Care, Finite Resources And Endless Problems
The biggest story in the health care debate this week had nothing to do with three days of historic debate at the Supreme Court and everything to do with the failing heart of a 71-year-old man whose fans believe is an American hero and detractors think is Darth Vader, sans the personality. Former vice president Dick Cheney received a new heart this past weekend in a Northern Virginia hospital. … Because of Cheney’s age and well-documented heart problems, questions have been raised about who should be given priority for organ donations. … That question goes to the heart of the debate over health care reform (Issac J.Bailey, 4/1).

The Baltimore Sun: Many Oppose Health Care Act, And Many Don't Know Its Benefits
The fate of the Affordable Care Act is in the hands of the Supreme Court justices. But in the court of public opinion, a large percentage of people polled recently want the law scrapped. A CBS/New York Times survey found nearly half of those polled disapprove of the law, while 40 percent want the entire act overturned. Rasmussen Reports says 56 percent of people surveyed want the act repealed. And the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly six out of 10 people don't even know how health care reform affects them — though that didn't stop many of them from disliking it (Eileen Ambrose, 4/1).

Modern Healthcare: Marketing Prevention
Coverage for prevention should be broader. There is both opportunity and threat in the federal government's decision to give states latitude in configuring "essential health benefits" under reform. If Medicaid benefits design is any indication, many states could ignore some preventive services. The federal commitment appears ambivalent as well; in order to pay for postponing the looming Medicare fee reduction for physicians, Congress cut $5 billion from the ACA's prevention fund (Emily Friedman, 3/31).

Modern Healthcare: Local Lessons
The attention of Americans interested in healthcare reform has largely been focused on Washington of late, but a new report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System reminds us that examining the situation closer to home is just as important. The report's key message: Where you live in the U.S. largely determines, for better or for worse, the kind of healthcare you can expect to receive. That shouldn't be the case (Christine Cassel, 3/31). 

Politico: The Next Health Care Frontier
As the debate on health care reignites, many reformers are promoting new ideas to improve transparency in the dynamic marketplace of health services. Central to the private-sector model for the health care delivery system is an emporium of competing institutions and services that can provide consumers with a variety of choices with visible costs and measurable quality. This approach is clearly the best alternative to a government-run, bureaucratic system that rations health care choices as a strategy for controlling costs. Transparency in the marketplace, however, is essential to the efficient functioning of a consumer-driven health care system (Phil English, 4/1).

Arizona Republic: Brewer Correct To Get Framework In Place
Critics are seeing inconsistency in Gov. Jan Brewer's plan to prepare Arizona for the federal health-care reforms at the same time she is suing to spike the sweeping, new law. ... The dichotomy makes sense for a simple reason: The state may lose its court challenge. Should repeal efforts fail as well, states lacking the necessary framework for implementing the health-care law will have to allow the feds to do it for them, resulting in an exchange that reflects Washington's view of Arizona's health-care needs. That is not a prescription for an effective system (3/31).

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