KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Chambliss On Reviving Gang Of Six Proposal; WSJ On Medicare Part D; Friedman On ‘Doing This Right’

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Tough Fiscal Choices Needed Now
I joined five other senators to identify the difficult issues and make the hard, necessary decisions to address the twin challenges of our deficit and debt. ... Among other provisions, our proposal reduces the debt by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years, stabilizes our publicly held debt by 2014, and imposes tough and honest budget enforcement. We achieve these objectives by reducing discretionary spending, reforming entitlement programs, simplifying the individual and corporate tax code and lowering tax rates (Sen. Saxby Chambliss, 7/26). 

The New York Times: The Reid Plan Vs. The Boehner Plan
The Reid plan does not call for spending cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and other entitlements. That's a fair political trade-off given that Republicans have refused to accept tax increases. ... THE BOEHNER PLAN This one is irredeemably awful. ... Because the first round of cuts would eviscerate discretionary programs - and because the plan does not count the anticipated $1 trillion in war savings - the second round of cuts would need to come from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other safety-net programs (7/26). 

The New York Times: Can't We Do This Right? 
Anyone who says that either entitlement reform or tax increases are off the table does not have a plan for sustaining American greatness and passing on the American dream to the next generation (Thomas L. Friedman, 7/26). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: We'll All Need To Pay To Solve Debt Issues
The reality is that programs serving seniors -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (pays for most nursing home care) are some of the biggest items in the federal budget, meaning the budget woes can't be fixed if they're declared off-limits (7/26).  

The Wall Street Journal: A Dangerous Medicare Proposal
Medicare Part D, the prescription-drug benefit program for seniors, has cost the federal government considerably less than was initially estimated. It's also overwhelmingly popular among beneficiaries. But in Washington, Part D is now a prime target for overhaul. In the heat of debate over the debt ceiling, President Obama and a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.V.), have proposed lowering the deficit by eliminating one of the very things about Part D that makes it such a success (Tomas J. Philipson, 7/26). 

San Francisco Chronicle: Lives Wasted As FDA Stalls On Diabetes Care
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching story of diabetes is the specter of "dead in bed" - kids found dead in the morning after a completely normal evening. We know how to prevent these attacks, but we don't - at least not here in the United States. Breakthrough technologies that protect against dangerous diabetes episodes are already available elsewhere, but not at home. Low-glucose suspend systems have been approved for nearly three years and used safely in more than 40 countries worldwide, but they are not available in the United States because of the FDA's unnecessarily slow process (Pam Sagan, 7/27).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Physician Stewardship Of Health Care In An Era Of Finite Resources
Physicians should support and lead efforts to contain health care costs. By virtue of their positions in society, both as stewards of their patients' health and as professionals who understand health care decisions and their respective consequences, physicians are uniquely qualified to move the discussions forward (Drs. David B. Reuben and Christine K. Cassel, 7/27).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Facts, Facts, Facts: What Is A Physician To Do?
Perhaps it is timely to reengage physicians in the discussion of international comparative data about health care and to ask why the United States is so provincial in designing the systems by which care is delivered. ... Advances in electronic medical records and information sciences will exponentially increase the amount of comparative data that can be produced across countries. Physicians should help to direct the type of data collected and to increase the validity and reliability of these data. At the same time, there needs to be a more open exploration of what data suggest about how the US health care system is performing and how it can be improved (Dr. Robert H. Brook, 7/27).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: That State Budget Was Nothing To Be Proud Of
We understood going into the 2011 legislative session that funding for human services would likely take its share of cuts, but this bill is far more disappointing than we imagined, in a number of ways. Under the final health and human services (HHS) budget, hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars that would have paid for services for persons with disabilities in the community will be lost (Pat Mellenthin, 7/26). 

The Kansas City Star: To Deal With Aging Population, We Need More Effective Planning
If Kansas City is to be a robust and thriving metropolitan area, we must all work toward "Creating a Community for All Ages" and that cannot be done without recognizing the profound impact on the region of the shifting age demographic. We must acknowledge that the unprecedented increase of older adults in our region will insist we address areas such as caregiving, health/technology, housing, mobility /transportation, social/civic engagement and work force development from a perspective that includes and serves all those who work, live and participate in commerce (Sandra Silva, 7/26). 

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