KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Gov. Walker On ‘Obsolete’ Medicaid; Are Patients Consumers?; The Onion Pokes Fun At Romney

The New York Times: Our Obsolete Approach To Medicaid
What does Medicaid have in common with "I Dream of Jeannie," "Lost in Space" and "Get Smart"? They all made their debut in 1965. ... the television networks have updated their programming. The federal government should do the same. ... Unfortunately, the encroachment of the federal government in Medicaid threatens to reduce states to mere agents. Block grants would bring a truce to the tug-of-wars between Washington and the states. This is the best option for Medicaid, facing a midlife crisis, to survive (Gov. Scott Walker, 4/21).

Kaiser Health News: There Aren't Enough Rich People To Pay For Medicare And Medicaid! (Guest Opinion)
Replacing the 10-year, $1 trillion Bush tax cut for those people making more than $250,000 a year with a combination of lower income and capital gains taxes would still be worth $1 trillion! ... That is a lot of money -- but not compared to the 2011 deficit that is estimated to be $1.6 trillion. Or the many $1 trillion deficits still to come.  ... So, raising taxes on rich people, by itself, hardly makes a dent. What is making a dent -- really a fiscal train wreck -- is the out-of-control cost of our entitlements, particularly the health care entitlements (Robert Laszewski, 4/21).

The New York Times: Patients Are Not Consumers 
Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions - life and death decisions - must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, those decisions often must be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping. ... The idea that all this can be reduced to money - that doctors are just "providers" selling services to health care "consumers" - is, well, sickening. And the prevalence of this kind of language is a sign that something has gone very wrong (Paul Krugman, 4/21).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: An Ill-Timed Attack On Planned Parenthood
As Catholics, we are called to weigh moral decisions using the scale of our individual conscience, and to respect other people's right to do the same. … Good Friday is a time of somber reflection, a time to consider our call as Catholics to greater social justice and a reminder that the moral test of our state and country comes in how we treat our poor. Ensuring family-planning services remain accessible to all fulfills the dictates of our faith (state Sen. Scott Dibble, 4/21). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Drug War Shouldn't Claim New Victims
The latest battle in the war on drugs must not create a new and innocent group of victims -- patients imprisoned by their own pain because doctors are unwilling or unable to prescribe the powerful pain medications that they need. That is the risk of a well-intentioned but potentially detrimental push by the Obama administration this week to rein in abuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, morphine and methadone (4/21). 

The Onion (satire): Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People
Though Mitt Romney is considered to be a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Massachusetts he once tried to help poor, uninsured sick people. ... "Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave impoverished Massachusetts citizens a chance to receive health care," Romney told reporters, adding that he feels ashamed whenever he looks back at how he forged bipartisan support to help uninsured Americans afford medicine ... Though Romney has apologized profusely, Beltway insiders said he would need to distance himself from his I-tried-to-help-sick people image  (4/21).

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