KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Ron Paul, USA Today On Individual Mandate; NYT’s Greenhouse On Court Challenges To Health Law

USA Today: Editorial: Everyone Should Be Required to Have Insurance
Massachusetts leads the nation in health insurance coverage of its citizens (5% or fewer are uninsured), and Texas is dead last (26% have no coverage). You'd think that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be bragging about his role in making his state No. 1, and that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be embarrassed by how poorly his state is doing. But that's not how the script is playing out … That's odd, though, because the mandate was born as a conservative response to President Clinton's much maligned health reform proposal (9/21).

USA Today: Ron Paul: Individual Mandates Make Matters Worse
When I began my career as a doctor, there was much less government interference in health care, medical costs were affordable, and no one in need of emergency or vital care was ever turned away. But government involvement changed all this. Managed care and government interference achieved only higher prices and poorer distribution of medical services. ... There are no easy answers or silver bullets, but solutions lie in moving toward freedom, not more corporatism or socialism (Rep. Ron Paul, 9/21).

The New York Times: Breaking News: The Civil War Is Over 
I have a confession to make. I can describe the legal arguments and the judicial conclusions, but on a fundamental level, I just don't get the attack on the federal law. I don't understand people who voluntarily, without claiming poverty, let their children go uninsured. I don't understand the moral compass of the owner of the fancy car I saw the other day that sported the bumper sticker: "Repeal Obamacare"  (Linda Greenhouse, 9/21).

iWatch News: Don't Turn Your Back On Ryan's Medicare Plan
If you think Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare is dead, think again. ... Last week, the insurance industry and its allies began what I predict will be a massive campaign to sell the public and policymakers on the idea of moving forward with the Ryan plan—albeit with a few tweaks to make it seem more consumer-friendly (Wendell Potter, 9/22).   

Houston Chronicle: Creating Hope For Children With Rare Diseases
Children who suffer from rare pediatric diseases such as cancers, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs and sickle cell disease make up the vast majority of the 30 million Americans who suffer from rare diseases ... Until now, pharmaceutical companies have been able to conveniently dismiss this unmet medical need as too costly and as a threat to business. Not anymore (Reps. Michael McCaul and G.K. Butterfield, 9/21). 

Huffington Post: Why Is HHS Letting Health Insurance Companies Keep Patients In The Dark?
The signing of 2010's health care reform law by President Obama represented a huge step forward in the fight for racial equity in health in the United States. But a new proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services -- one that would let health insurance companies off the hook when it comes to translating vital information for tens of millions of people who are still in the process of learning English about patients' rights -- could undermine key features of health reform (Andrew Friedman, 9/21).

Denver Post: No Free Ride For The Uninsured
I prefer the private delivery and health insurance model to socialized medicine. So how do we entice healthy young people to get in the insurance pool? Incentives can include insurance premium subsidies for those with low incomes, tax preferences for health savings accounts, low-cost major medical coverage with high deductibles, interstate competition among insurers and portability when you change jobs (Mike Rosen, 9/22).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: In Health Insurance, Choice Doesn't Come Free
Some day in the not-too-distant future the company-sponsored health plan will be as rare as the company-funded pension. ... The 401(k) approach to health insurance is on its way. The latest marker on this road was laid down earlier this week, when WellPoint Inc., the largest U.S. insurer by enrollment, and two Blue Cross nonprofits bought a majority stake in Minneapolis start-up Bloom Health (Eric Wieffering, 9/21).

The New England Journal of Medicine: How Much Savings Can We Wring from Medicare?
The shift in the driver of baseline spending growth away from increases in spending per beneficiary toward demographic changes has important policy implications. First, our efforts to contain total spending should focus on meeting the ambitious projections for baseline per-beneficiary spending growth ... Second, assuming that savings from other parts of the budget will be used to reduce the deficit, the policy question becomes how much to raise taxes to finance the demographic trend, how much to cut provider fees, and how much to shift costs (Michael Chernew, Dana Goldman and Sarah Axeen, 9/21).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Routine HIV Screening — What Counts in Evidence-Based Policy? 
The battle over HIV screening, though less public and heated than the mammography debate, demonstrates how the same evidence can lead the country's top public health agency and the body charged by the government with providing scientifically grounded recommendations on clinical preventive interventions to reach dramatically different conclusions (Ronald Bayer and Gerald M. Oppenheimer, 9/21).

The Boston Globe: No Need For Special Rules
Whatever sense it made when medical confidentiality rules were weak, a state law requiring written consent for an HIV test is an obstacle to testing now, and repealing that law ought to be a simple matter. Yet the Legislature is now considering a bill that ... would allow patients to give verbal consent, which doctors would have to document in a patient's chart - documentation that isn't required for any other test that doctors might order (9/22).

Chicago Sun-Times: Give Military Women Equal Abortion Rights 
If a U.S. servicewomen is raped — a shockingly frequent occurrence — she not only must navigate a sometimes sexist military culture as she attempts to get care and justice, she also must pay for the abortion herself. And because some overseas military bases don't provide abortions, this can include a costly flight home to find a doctor who will provide an abortion (9/21).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Fetal Bill Stifles Innovation
In late August, bills were introduced before the Wisconsin Legislature to ban the acquisition and utilization of "fetal body parts." These bills would make it a crime for Wisconsin researchers to use cells derived from certain fetal tissue. I find it incomprehensible that anyone would promote legislation that would effectively put an end to the innovative research being done in institutions such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin (Fred Risser, 9/21).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Limit Researchers, Respect Life
But is this "catastrophe" real? ... Let's allow researchers the freedom to explore all avenues to improve the human condition. Let's also make certain that it is not at the expense of any member of the human family (Barbara. L. Lyons, 9/21).

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