KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Romney’s Record, Calling GOP’s ‘Bluff’, Abortion/Birth Control Funding

Los Angeles Times/Politico: See Mitt Romney Flip-Flop
The center of the Obama health care reform - the part that has excited the ire of conservatives - is the individual mandate that says everyone must buy health insurance. Romney now says that given the chance, "I would repeal Obamacare." Yet Romney advocated, signed and (for a while) bragged about a similar requirement in the Massachusetts reform passed while he was governor. The similarity is no coincidence. Private-sector health care can't work without some sort of mandate that healthy people as well as sick ones must carry insurance. ... To me, these issues and the way Romney has handled them are characterological and stamp him as ethically unqualified to be entrusted with the presidency (Michael Kinsley, 3/8).

The Washington Post: Republicans Need To Take A Stand On Health-Care Reform
It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Republicans. They managed to make it through the health-care debate without offering serious solutions of their own, and - perhaps more impressive - through the election by promising to tell us their solutions after they'd won. But the jig is up. They need a health-care plan - and quickly. ... To understand the trouble the Republicans find themselves in, you need to understand the party's history with health-care reform (Ezra Klein, 3/7). 

Related, from KHN: Nixon's Plan For Health Reform, In His Own Words and Summary Of A 1993 Republican Health Reform Plan

USA Today: Our View: Will States Fix Health Law, Or Just Whine Some More
States are rightly called the laboratories of democracy, where good policies often get made before Washington catches on. ... But states can also be laboratories of minimalism, where race-to-the-bottom policies can hurt instead of help. Obama is right to guard against that impulse. It's worrisome that Republicans have consistently declined to make a priority of expanding coverage (3/7). 

USA Today: Opposing View: Waiver Won't Help States
President Obama's offer to grant states a modest amount of flexibility in adjusting the mandates in the new health care law three years down the road in 2014 is an attempt to divert the nation's attention from the fact that ObamaCare and the federal government are bankrupting states today. ... a provision in President Obama's stimulus bill called "maintenance of effort" barred states from reforming Medicaid eligibility or enrollment. The stimulus money has now dried up, and traditionally the rules would have gone away along with the money. Unfortunately for state budgets and taxpayers, the maintenance of effort provisions were made permanent by ObamaCare (Gov. Sam Brownback, 3/7). 

Related KHN story: States Seeking To Cut Medicaid Rolls Get Some Help – From The Feds (Werber Serafini, 3/16)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: An Assault On Women's Health
[I]n his budget proposal, Walker completely eliminates the state's only dedicated family planning funding stream, while pushing to allow insurance plans to discriminate against women by excluding prescription birth control in drug plans. While all eyes are on the deep cuts for Wisconsin workers, children and families in Walker's budget proposal, an all-out "war on women" is also being waged in Congress... It's no understatement to say that we're in the midst of the most aggressive political assault on women's health in history (Teri Huyck, 3/7).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Cut Off Tax Dollars For Abortions
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a $1 billion operation that receives over $360 million in national and Wisconsin taxpayer dollars each year. ... The big gun PPFA uses to "sell" its need for taxpayer funds is that abortions will increase if family planning taxpayer dollars are cut off. In reality, while PPFA taxpayer dollars doubled since 1998, the number of abortions it performed increased accordingly... It is outrageous that taxpayers are forced to underwrite any organization that profits so immensely from the destruction of human life (Barbara L. Lyons, 3/7).

Charlotte Observer: Medical Malpractice Proposal Goes Too Far
A bill approved by the state Senate Wednesday to place a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases has several problems the House should rethink. One of them, as we have pointed out, is that a monetary cap on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering is likely unconstitutional. ... where the bill goes entirely overboard is a provision that provides almost total immunity for malpractice in the emergency room. It imposes a new standard of proof requiring damaged patients to prove "gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing" (3/7). 

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan Should Keep Open Access To Mental Health Medications
The federal government has documented that 87% of adults with serious mental illness are prescribed medications. In fact, 35% receive only medications as their treatment. ... How many times do our elected officials and the mental health community have to stand firm before the bureaucrats get the message? Do we have to have a Michigan version of Jared Loughner? (3/7). 

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