KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Health Spending Driving U.S. Recovery; Time To Get Rid Of The Insurance Middle Man

The Washington Post: Is Health Care Spending A Stealth Jobs Program?
Here is the most interesting fact about the economy that you've never heard: Without health-care spending, the rest of the economy is barely producing more than it did in late 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. We've spent 5½ years struggling to get back where we were, and many industries are hardly making it. ... Health spending accounts for almost half the economy’s meager overall gain (Robert J. Samuelson, 8/21). 

The Washington Post: The GOP's Obamacare Youth Hoax
It's rare for a political party to trumpet a position that unintentionally reveals its myopia, incoherence and expediency. Yet such is the trifecta with the Republican campaign to call attention to Obamacare's young "victims." Republicans are obsessed with the supposed injustice being done to some healthy young people who will effectively subsidize their sicker elders when Obamacare's individual mandate takes effect (Matt Miller, 8/21). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Man Who Was Treated For $17,000 Less
Let consumers and providers interact through market forces to drive down prices and drive up quality, like we do when we buy groceries, clothing, cars, computers, etc. Drop the focus on prepaid health plans and return to the days of real health insurance—that covers major, unforeseen events, leaving the everyday expenses to the consumer—just like auto and homeowners' insurance. Sadly, we are heading in the exact opposite direction. ObamaCare expands the role of the third party and practically eliminates the role—and the say—of the patient in the delivery of health care (Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, 8/21). 

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Do Have Ideas For Health Care
Many congressional Republicans, such as Oklahoma's Sen. Tom Coburn and Wyoming's Sen. Mike Enzi, have long advocated making health insurance completely portable so workers can take their plans with them from job to job. This means giving individuals who buy coverage for themselves a tax advantage similar to the one that employers enjoy when they cover employees. That change also could make coverage more affordable for the self-employed and even universal for all workers (Karl Rove, 8/21). 

JAMA: Health Care Safety-Net Ambivalence
I'm conflicted about the health care safety net. I say this as someone who has worked as a primary care physician in a public hospital for more than 25 years. ... There’s something truly inspiring about working shoulder to shoulder with those who attempt to combat social injustice by helping patients who seek care in the safety net. But the inconvenient truth is that the safety net often lets these patients down. The safety net does not achieve a level of performance found in non–safety-net institutions (Dr. Andrew Bindman, 8/21).

The Fiscal Times: How Obamacare Signals The End Of Government Insurance
In four months, Americans will have to prove to the IRS that they have health insurance—the kind that qualifies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). … The White House tried that strategy to limit the political damage from Barack Obama's signature legislation during the 2014 elections, but even with the delays, the reaction to Obamacare's perverse incentives look damning to Democrats in the mid-terms (Edward Morrissey, 8/22).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Insurance Rates In And Out Of Exchange Reflect Competitive Market
The number of plans and participating insurance companies show that Colorado has a very competitive insurance market, unlike other states where one or two insurance companies control the market. That makes it difficult to compare Colorado's rates with other states. But rates alone aren't the whole story. Coverage will be guaranteed regardless of health status, many old restrictions have been eliminated and benefits will be much more comprehensive across the board (Bob Serno, 8/21).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.