KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Reps. Ryan, Kind On Repeal; Opinions On What’s Next For Health Reform

The Wall Street Journal: Target: ObamaCare 
The health-care law enacted by the last Congress is enormous-more than 2,000 pages-and full of provisions that will expand government control of health care and limit what individuals and employers can do. ...  in the end the Senate, House, and White House will have to come together and agree on some health-care changes. That was an important thing the November election was about-fixing a poorly drawn health care bill-and since the presidential election comes next, some agreement will need to be reached before the 2012 campaign begins (Pete DuPont, 1/24).

The New York Times: Reforming The Reform
What Republicans need is a different kind of incremental approach, one that uses the strongest conservative critiques of the health care bill as a framework for a reform of the reform. If Obama is defeated in 2012, this framework could easily be adapted into a full scale repeal-and-replace effort. But in the event that he's re-elected, it would offer a Republican Congress a blueprint for improving the law without doing away with it entirely (Ross Douthat, 1/23). 

Bloomberg: 'Socialized Medicine' May Start With Judges
[W]ithin the next year or so will come a vote that counts -- when the Supreme Court has its say. At issue: can the federal government require individuals to buy health insurance. ... Ultimately, America has grown stronger when active citizens, organized pressure groups, and accountable politicians wrestle with large policy challenges. The results often aren't pretty, and can resemble a Rube Goldberg machine more than an iPad. But far better to have social policy set through a messy, noisy democracy than through a pinched reading of the Constitution  (Michael Waldman, 1/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Why Obama Should Drop The Insurance Mandate
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of true-blue Oregon, who once supported the individual mandate, has seen the handwriting on the election ballots and flipped. His new legislation, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, is one of the more intriguing efforts to reform ObamaCare (Merrill Matthews, 1/24).  

The New York Times: The Final Health Care Debate 
Given the deep divide on health care reform in the courts, the Congress and the country, the long-term viability of this historic achievement depends in part on President Obama's ability to reduce the tension and seek common ground. In his State of the Union message, he should say something like this: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been one of my proudest achievements. Every American's quality of life will improve as a result of its passage" (Tom Daschle, 1/22).

The Sacramento Bee: House Health Reform Plan Is A Giveaway To Insurers
House Republicans took their symbolic stand repealing the health care overhaul law. But it's the next step Americans ought to examine closely: ... Allow health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. ... The concept sounds appealing – why not promote competition across state lines? But the actual proposal takes states out of the picture and puts the insurance companies in charge (1/23).

Kaiser Health News: Just Call Me Liar Of The Year
Tomorrow night, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a chamber that just voted overwhelmingly to repeal his health care law. Before you believe anything I might have to say about that, however, there's something you should know: I am a liar (Michael Cannon, 1/24).  

San Francisco Chronicle: Funding For Health Care Law Next Big Battle
Obama and a majority of Democrats in the last Congress opted for the Republican model even though many Democrats preferred a single-payer system -- Medicare for all -- or at the very least a public option. Most polls showed that the public favored such an option. But the White House hoped for Republican support and wanted to ward off opposition from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies by promising them some 30 million additional customers. The current Republican attack on mandatory coverage shows that Democrats who wanted a single-payer system should have stuck to their guns (Robert Reich, 1/23). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Full Repeal: The Only Way To True Reform
Since the health care bill became law, businesses, policy experts and government actuaries have confirmed what we already knew: If fully implemented, the law would spend trillions of dollars that we don't have, raise taxes on families and businesses and put the federal government in the center of individual health care decisions. ... Beyond repeal, we must work to replace this costly mistake with consumer-driven reforms (Rep. Paul Ryan, 1/22).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: What Repeal Would Mean For Wisconsin
If health care reform is repealed, just about everyone in Wisconsin would suffer. Powerful insurance companies again would be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, cancel coverage when you get sick and raise the cost of prescription drugs. Repeal would leave 320,000 people in Wisconsin at risk of losing insurance and paying more for fewer benefits (Rep. Ron Kind, 1/22). 

Houston Chronicle: Let Texas Control Health Insurance
While it is no secret that I oppose the federal health care reform bill, if we don't act now to create the Texas Health Insurance Connector, our state could be forced to cede regulatory control of a significant chunk of its health insurance market to the federal government. The desire to avoid such oversight has generated broad support for the connector, which I am proposing in House Bill 636 (State Rep. John Zerwas, 1/23). 

The Baltimore Sun: O'Malley's Budget: It's A Start
For all the talk Gov. Martin O'Malley has been doing about the ugly choices he was making to craft a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year without any tax increases, the proposal he submitted doesn't look so terrible. … The biggest real cut is $264 million in Medicaid reimbursements to the state's hospitals - not the kind of constituency that's likely to inspire mass protests outside the capitol. And they may be able to mitigate the impact by spreading the increased costs to insurance companies and others through the rate-setting process (1/22).

The Arizona Republic: AHCCCS Is Facing Its Greatest Struggle
Fundamentally, the role government plays in society and the size of publicly funded programs are issues decided by voters who pay for AHCCCS. The message sent in November was one of smaller government and no new taxes. AHCCCS requires a comprehensive solution. The governor has repeatedly challenged the hospital industry and other beneficiaries of AHCCCS to agree on solutions similar to other states. Sadly, it has been two years and the governor is forced to seek a waiver to roll back eligibility as her only option (Tom Betlach, 1/24).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Numbers Don't Lie: Hospital Staffing Is Weak
During 2010, nurses across Minnesota called attention as never before to the issue of unsafe staffing and how our patients continue to be put in harm's way as a result. We, the nurses who care directly for you, are saying in as plain a manner as possible that we can no longer guarantee your safety within the system hospital executives and administrators have created (Linda Hamilton, 1/23).

Los Angeles Times: The Doctor Can't See You Now 
The health reform package includes admirable efforts to address physician shortages: improved funding for the National Health Services Corps, which trades student loan repayment for care rendered in underserved areas; payment incentives and training opportunities for primary-care doctors; and grants to medical schools to develop rural training programs. However, lawmakers failed to increase the number of federally funded residency positions (Bradley Wertheim, 1/24).

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