KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Anticipating SOTU; ‘Flimflammery’ On Health Law Costs; Disputing Medicare Price Controls

The New York Times: What Comes After No?
The Republicans have vowed to "repeal and replace" President Obama's historic health care reform law. Now that House Republicans have muscled through a symbolic repeal bill, they will have to deliver their own alternative plan. Don't expect much (1/24).

The Fresno Bee/McClatchy: Symbolic Health Care Repeal Vote Doesn't Move Nation Forward
The symbolic vote was much like the procedural and political nonsense that Republicans complained so often about during the last session headed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker. We urge the entire Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- to rise above the petty political games of the past, and do the work they were elected to perform (1/24). 

Kaiser Health News:  What Will President Obama Say About Medicare? 
In fact, if the law remains as is, future Medicare spending per capita will grow no faster than the economy as a whole. The problem is that no one -- not the Medicare's chief actuary, not the Congressional Budget Office, not anyone who has looked at the numbers -- thinks this is realistic (John Goodman, 1/25).

The Washington Post: Health Care And The Contest Of Credibility
Republicans should be able to make a strong case for reform. Price controls in Medicare -- if actually implemented -- would cause immediate pain. Republican plans would kick in more gradually -- touching no one who is over 55 today. The Democratic approach to Medicare cuts would give doctors and providers less and less money while expecting them to cover the same services (Michael Gerson, 1/25).  

The Fiscal Times: When Health Controls Fail
It will become clearer in the next few years that the costs and revenues of health reform are seriously out of whack, even if the new reform law survives repeal efforts. Exploding deficits and debt will force huge strategy changes and a choice between three politically difficult roads. There are good reasons to be skeptical that health costs will be checked or that many projected savings will materialize (Stuart Butler, 1/24).  

Politico: Flimflammery Over 'Obamacare'
According to the official stats of the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will actually reduce costs and save the government money over 10 years. Not so, say Republicans. ... The opponents have all the advantages except one. By making their charge, they got to go first. They also benefit from the media's traditional reluctance to settle arguments like this. "Fairness" and "balance" create pressure to offer both sides of every story, even stories with only one side. The only thing supporters of Obamacare have going for them is the truth (Michael Kinsley, 1/25).

Fox News: Will Obama's State Of The Union Make Doctors Happy?
The costs of running medical practices are astronomical. Between supplies, rent, employee benefits, and yes, malpractice insurance, there are many expenses. It's true, the cost of health care for the consumer is out of control, but the government is not helping (Dr. Manny Alvarez, 1/24).

Politico: Roll Back The 1099 Provision
The administration's newest idea - ridding the books of outdated federal regulations - ignores a new, fast-approaching regulation that is about to hammer job creators across the country: the 1099 tax paperwork mandate in the health care bill. If Congress and the administration want to clear the way for growth, eliminating this measure is an obvious, big first step (Sen. Mike Johanns, 1/25).

Los Angeles Times: The 'Healthstat' Seduction
[The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] makes insurance companies into even more sheltered monopolies - health utilities, in effect - and appeases many of the political constituencies that stand to lose money from this style of counterinsurgency medicine. Also, we know that Obamacare incentivizes corporations to dump their most expensive patients onto public exchanges. Which means taxpayers will pick up a much bigger tab than we were told (Jonah Goldberg, 1/25). 

Kaiser Health News: The Health Law's Co-Op Program: A Political Divide Or The Affordable Alternative Consumers Need? 
[A]cross the country, policymakers, business leaders and politicians of both parties are increasingly recognizing that many insurance markets are too highly concentrated. While there is wide divergence on solutions to this problem, co-ops could be an appealing middle-ground approach, leading to greater investment in their success (Sabrina Corlette, 1/25).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The 'Abuser Protection Act' Of 2011
Wisconsin has a long history of commitment to a high quality of life for its vulnerable residents. It is a reason we should feel safe moving an aging parent into a nursing home when we can no longer care for them at home. But the actions of our state Legislature last week have taken us a step backward. In a bill guised as lawsuit or tort reform, our lawmakers have decided that long-term care providers will be able to police themselves and provide better care without the threat of an expensive lawsuit (Lynn Breedlove, Kristina Finnel and Al Majkrzak, 1/24).

Houston Chronicle: Mental Health System Can't Take Budget Cuts
The woefully underfunded public mental health system simply cannot withstand the projected funding cuts - especially to mental health care for children. The bottom line is this: When it comes to mental health services for Texas children, we can pay now, or we can pay more later (Steven B. Schnee and Octavio N. Martinez Jr., 1/22). 

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