KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: A Health Law Legal Precedent, Hospital-Acquired Infections, Price Cap Scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal: An ObamaCare Legal Precedent?
The Supreme Court's most important ruling this year may have been its unanimous decision in Bond v. United States, which held that individual citizens can challenge federal statutes when they encroach on authority the Constitution reserves to the states. The decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, has far-reaching implications - especially for the government's efforts to defend ObamaCare (David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A Casey, 6/28).

Houston Chronicle: Give Credit To Three For Daring Proposals 
No one disagrees with the need to control the rate of growth of federal entitlement programs. [House Budget] Committee Chairman Ryan has set out one proposal to do that. A reasonable response from the opposite party would be a plan of its own that begins to control spending and/or increase revenues to at least the extent Ryan's budget does (Leonard Zwelling, 6/25).

San Francisco Chronicle: Anti-Abortion Billboards Divide And Distract
The Bay Area now has its own taste of the offensive billboards sponsored by anti-abortion groups that target African American women. Earlier this month, dozens of billboards went up around Oakland that read "Black & Beautiful" and are anchored to an anti-abortion website: These billboards place African American women at the center of a propaganda campaign over a basic health care procedure that is both legal and safe, while ignoring the realities of the barriers the black community faces in health access and outcomes (Belle Taylor-McGhee, 6/27).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Industry Needs To Create Cultures That Fight Contamination
Hospitals can be dangerous places, and the danger can involve far more than the illnesses and injuries patients check in with. As a recent series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlights, the risks of infection during a hospital stay can be deadly. It doesn't have to be that way (Kim Gay, 6/27).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Facilities Need To Adopt Better Tools To Monitor And Report Infections
Epidemiologists often say, "You can't prevent what you can't measure." When it comes to health care-associated infections, we know this holds true. When hospitals measure infections and act on that information, they can make dramatic progress in preventing infections. As the recent reporting in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out, the progress that can be made has surprised nearly everyone. These stories also raise important questions about how health care-associated infections are reported. The AJC used data collected for the primary purpose of preparing a patient's hospital bill. This method is far from ideal (Arjun Srinivsasan, 6/27).

The Kansas City Star: Health Care Benefit For KC Retirees Could Be Cut
Cities in financial turmoil are changing their retirement plans to reduce costs for taxpayers but still treat former employees fairly. Look at Overland Park, which has cut health care benefits for retired city workers, which will save thousands of dollars a year. Kansas City needs to consider a similar change. With its much larger base of retirees, the city eventually could save millions of dollars a year in public funds (6/27).

Forbes: ObamaCare's Admission Of Failure: Waivers On Demand
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that Congress had to pass ObamaCare so Americans "could find out what is in it." Congress approved the bill and people found out. They aren't happy. But it's no problem if you are a friend of the Obama administration. Then you can get a legal waiver. The American health care system is a mess, an inefficient public-private hybrid. Federal spending and tax policy have encouraged development of a third party payment system which generates wasteful over-spending (Doug Bandow, 6/27).

The Sacramento Bee: Senate Should OK Regulation Of Health Rates
When auto and homeowners' insurance companies propose excessive rate increases, California state officials can reject them. But California has a big loophole when it comes to health insurance. State officials can review health insurance premiums and attempt to cajole insurance companies to reduce unreasonable increases. But they have no power to reject them, as their counterparts in other states can. The Assembly has done its part to change that, passing Assembly Bill 52, by Assemblymen Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. Now it's up to the Senate. A key Senate Health Committee hearing occurs Wednesday (6/28).

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