KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Cancer’s Deadly Toll In Minority Communities; GOP Candidates Need To Go On Offense Against Health Law

The New York Times: Why Black Women Die Of Cancer
Since the early 1970s, studies have shown that black Americans have a higher death rate from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. This is especially true when it comes to breast cancer. A study published last week in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found that, in a survey of 41 of America's largest cities, black women with breast cancer are on average 40 percent more likely to die than their white counterparts (Harold P. Freeman, 3/13). 

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Should Reclassify Prescription Painkillers To Cut Rampant Theft
In his 30 years as a pharmacist, including three at a CVS Caremark store in Northern California, Wayne Wilson said it was all too common for drugstore employees to steal prescription drugs, which would often make their way to the black market. "It happens far more often than people realize," he told me. "I used to be shocked. I'm not shocked any more." Wilson said he personally intervened after a CVS pharmacy worker in Eureka was caught slipping painkillers into his pocket. That worker was arrested and fired, he said (David Lazarus, 3/13). 

The Washington Post: Making The AIDS Crisis Worse
Some of America’s closest friends in Africa have turned with a vengeance on gay people. In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan recently approved a law making homosexual acts punishable by up to a 14-year jail sentence and outlawing gay organizations. In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation that requires a life sentence for serial offenders and mandates that witnesses report homosexual acts or face penalties themselves. ... This problem has many political, cultural and religious layers. One matter of science, however, is clear: Anti-gay laws are bad for public health (Michael Gerson, 3/13). 

The New York Times' Economix: How To Shave $1 Trillion Out Of Health Care 
Americans spend more than 17 percent of GDP on health care; other high income industrial democracies spend only about 11 percent. The 6 percent difference in our $17 trillion economy amounts to $1 trillion. ... What could Americans do with that trillion dollars each year and what would we have to give up if our health care system became more like those of our peers? (Victor R. Fuchs, 3/14). 

The New York Times: Saving A Future For Those With Disabilities
Back in the old days, when Congress did crazy things like pass legislation, a sensible bill like the ABLE Act might have sailed to the president's desk. But today, even with a long list of positives — it’s a good idea, solves a pressing problem and has lots of bipartisan support — it’s not a slam dunk, because there’s always a way in Washington to squelch good ideas, especially those that involve tweaking the tax code and spending a little money. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act would be a boon for people with disabilities, and for their parents and other caregivers (3/13). 

WBUR: Might Personality Tests Of Patients Improve Preventive Health Care?
Before entering my freshman year of college, I was asked to complete a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test so the school could match me to a compatible roommate. She and I ended up living together all four years. In fact, the Myers-Briggs tool, which classifies each individual as one of 16 personality types, is considered such a powerful tool that most college career centers and Fortune 500 companies use it to help people determine their appropriate course in the work world. Soon, doctors, too, may conduct personality tests with patients to help tailor their care (Veronica Thomas, 3/13).

And in commentary on the health law --

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: The Insiders: Sebelius Happy Talk Makes It Worse For Democrats
I think I have figured out why President Obama hasn't fired Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She will say anything. Sebelius will deny the obvious, defend the indefensible and even rewrite the law without hesitation, all while keeping a straight face. She has been willing to hide, bend and break the Obamacare law. Even moving the goalposts of what Obamacare's success would look like and changing the initial purpose of Obamacare – insuring the uninsured – doesn't cause her to break a sweat or show even the slightest bit of embarrassment (Ed Rogers, 3/13). 

The Washington Post: Deadline Looming For Affordable Care Act Enrollment
You have until the end of the month to sign up for a plan on the health-care exchanges. With the March 31 deadline nearing, the White House is pumping up and plugging to get more people to enroll, especially young adults, reports Puneet Kollipara of The Washington Post’s Wonkblog (Michelle Singletary, 3/13). 

The Wall Street Journal's Potomac Watch: A 2014 GOP Election Model
Republicans celebrating this week's victory in a Florida special House election are right to take the race as proof that they've got a potent midterm weapon in ObamaCare. Those looking to mimic the model this fall would be even wiser to view David Jolly's win in its broader context: This was a victory of offense (Kimberley A. Strassel, 3/13). 

Bloomberg: Obamacare Co-Ops Exploit Dodgy Pricing
One of the lesser-known provisions of the Affordable Care Act provided funding for the establishment of health insurance cooperatives, nonprofit local insurers that provide policies on the exchange. ... [Lower pricing offered by coops] suggests a worrying alternative possibility -- that the inexperienced co-ops have systematically priced their policies too low. That could hit the taxpayer in two ways: through the risk-corridor payments, which will make up excess losses, and through the $2.1 billion worth of government loans that have been made to these insurers (Megan McArdle, 3/13).

Bangor Daily News: Maine GOP Dismisses Medicaid Compromise That Meets Its Own Demands
On Wednesday, Maine lawmakers once again declared their positions on Medicaid expansion from the floor of the Senate. What was remarkable was that, despite the fact that the bill to expand Medicaid to 70,000 low-income residents is significantly different from last year, the arguments against it didn't really change. In fact, instead of the compromise bill drawing more support, it drew less (3/13). 

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