KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Lesson” From R.I. On Waivers; Wis. Infant Mortality Rate Disparities; Diabetes And Seniors

The Wall Street Journal: Rhode Island's Medicaid Lesson
Medicaid is the major cost driver in state budgets these days, so several Governors have proposed a deal to the White House and Congress: They'll take less money in return for the flexibility to run the program with fewer federal strings. A case study in the potential benefits is coming from liberal Rhode Island. ...  The waiver is not a pure block grant, because the state agreed not to drop coverage for anyone eligible under federal Medicaid rules and retains the federal-state cost sharing for Medicaid expenses (3/28). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Confronting The Deaths Of Infants
An African-American child born today in Milwaukee will be three times more likely to die before his or her first birthday than a white child born in the hospital room next door. Wisconsin's African-American infant mortality rate is among the worst in the nation. It is a tragedy and a disgrace that demands urgent attention and should be a top priority. ... Yet the deaths are only part of the tragic story. The vast majority of babies born too early or too small survive but many spend the rest of their lives dealing with chronic health conditions associated with an unhealthy start (Philip Farrell, 3/26).

The Arizona Republic: Diabetes Screening Is Imperative For Seniors
The good news is that "nothing happens fast with diabetes." But, if left undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, blindness and amputations. If you are 65 or older, I urge you to take advantage of Medicare's free diabetes-screening test. By discovering your risk for the disease, you can begin to make changes that can help to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes (Elbert Bicknell, 3/28).

Des Moines Register: Seniors' Advocate Must Be Independent
Every state has a long-term care ombudsman. When Congress created these positions more 30 years ago, the goal was clear: Provide an advocate for people living in institutions, including nursing homes. Federal and state law require the ombudsman to operate independently and advocate for the elderly. Jeanne Yordi is Iowa's ombudsman. Unfortunately, she has shown she lacks the courage to speak up. She doesn't want to be independent (3/27). 

The Seattle Times: A Sensible Approach To Marijuana Legalization That Protects Young People
Proponents of reforming the law should not imply either that marijuana is totally harmless or that legalization will have no impacts on youth. Public health and safety issues, and the need to protect children from behaviors that have heightened risks for them, are both legitimate issues which must be addressed. Similarly, opponents of reform must acknowledge the consequences of current laws (Roger Roffman, 3/27).  

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