KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Obama’s ‘Flexibility’ Offer; Virginia’s Abortion Law ‘Mischief’; Primary Care Cuts

The New York Times: Mr. Obama's Health Care Challenge
President Obama had a splendid idea this week. He challenged governors who oppose his health care reforms, most of whom are Republicans, to come up with a better alternative. ... The president's new olive branch is not apt to change the legal arguments over whether the mandate in the reform law is constitutional. But it can't hurt to bring forcefully to everyone's attention that there are alternatives to the mandate if states want to pursue them. Republicans ought to rise to the challenge (3/1).

Los Angeles Times: Reforming Health Care Reform
Obama wants to focus the debate on how best to achieve the law's interrelated goals of increasing insurance coverage, improving the quality of care and slowing the increase in cost. Republican critics, however, don't share those goals. To them, the reform should be primarily about controlling the cost of care. ... That's why, even if the objective were simply to control costs, it would be important to adhere to the standard the new law sets for increased coverage. The means to achieve that goal, however, should be open to vigorous innovation.  (3/2).

Kaiser Health News: A Message To Health Law Critics: It's Not About A Lack Of Flexibility
[M]ost estimates suggest a single-payer could satisfy Obama's criteria: Covering as many people, with the same or better financial protection, for similar or even lower costs. But, of course, that's not the sort of health care alternative conservatives have in mind  (Jonathan Cohn, 3/1).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Transformative, Yes. But Is This Budget Fair?
Walker is trying to bring the state's books into actual balance. But we fear this budget doesn't live up to Wisconsin's deepest sense of equity and fair play. ... Walker recommends spending almost $1.3 billion more in state money over two years to shore up health programs for poor people. But there would be changes to those programs that need careful examination. And we remain concerned over a provision in the budget-repair bill that would give the administration sweeping authority to make changes (3/1).

Politico: Not All Buy Health Care As Commerce
[T]he real debate is over whether we have a federal government limited in its powers or not. For more than two centuries, our Constitution has been understood to mandate that the primary regulators - those who give us our laws on contracts, torts, property, business associations and many other legal doctrines - ought to be the state and local authorities. For those are the lawmakers closest to the people. This, in essence, is the argument of the state officials who have joined in challenging the health care law. ... If there are any constitutional limits to the federal government that remain, then, quite possibly, Vinson and Hudson have gotten it right (Stephen Presser, 3/2).

The Washington Post: Mischief Drives Change In Virginia Abortion Rules 
Principled opponents of abortion have options to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, including broadening access to contraception, promoting adoption and pushing abstinence-focused education. But Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly - with the help of two anti-abortion Democratic state senators - have taken a different tack. Through the use of legislative gimmickry - an amendment slipped on to a bill unrelated to abortion - they have pushed through a divisive measure that is unlikely to reduce the number of abortions performed in the commonwealth but which may eventually force some of the state's 21 abortion clinics to close - if it survives court challenges (3/1).

The Sacramento Bee: Federal Budget Cuts Would Put Health Of Californians At Risk
As the CEO of the California Primary Care Association, the statewide voice of nearly 5 million patients throughout the state of California, I am deeply concerned about proposed federal health care cuts. The budget plan contains billions of dollars in cuts and includes a $1.3 billion cut in health centers nationwide. This is nearly a 50 percent cut in base funding and equals a loss of tens of millions of dollars to the health centers of California (Carmela Castellano-Garcia, 3/2).

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