KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Debt Dilemma; IPAB Intense Defense; Minnesota Middle-Ground

The New York Times: Getting To Crazy
Let's talk for a minute about what Republican leaders are rejecting. President Obama has made it clear that he's willing to sign on to a deficit-reduction deal that consists overwhelmingly of spending cuts, and includes draconian cuts in key social programs, up to and including a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. These are extraordinary concessions. As The Times's Nate Silver points out, the president has offered deals that are far to the right of what the average American voter prefers - in fact, if anything, they're a bit to the right of what the average Republican voter prefers! Yet Republicans are saying no (Paul Krugman, 7/14). 

The Wall Street Journal: Can Obama Pull A 'Clinton' On The GOP?
After a bruising midterm election, the president moves to the political center. He distances himself from his Democratic base. He calls for cuts in Social Security and signs historic legislation ending a major entitlement program. He agrees to balance the budget with major cuts in domestic discretionary spending. He has a showdown with Republicans who threaten to bring government to its knees if their budget demands aren't met. He wins the showdown, successfully painting them as radicals. He goes on to win re-election. Barack Obama in 2012? Maybe. But the president who actually did it was Bill Clinton (Robert Reich, 7/15). 

Seattle Times: Kids And Seniors At Serious Risk In Federal Debt-Limit Battle
Kids and seniors are stronger together when we speak up for the public programs that improve the lives of millions of Americans. ... For two generations and counting, Medicaid has been there for us, making a difference every day for people of all ages. We're calling on Congress to keep it strong. We can't let politics uproot years of progress (Ingrid McDonald and Paola Maranan, 7/14). 

The New York Times: Death And Budgets
The fiscal crisis is driven largely by health care costs. We have the illusion that in spending so much on health care we are radically improving the quality of our lives. ... We have the barely suppressed hope that someday all this spending and innovation will produce something close to immortality. But that's not actually what we are buying. ... We think the budget mess is a squabble between partisans in Washington. But in large measure it's about our inability to face death and our willingness as a nation to spend whatever it takes to push it just slightly over the horizon (David Brooks, 7/14). 

Politico: IPAB Repeal Not Warranted
The Independent Payment Advisory Board has come under a lot of criticism of late - including flat-out false allegations - from Republicans, whose declared objective is to repeal the entire health reform law, and Democratic members of Congress, who fear loss of congressional prerogatives. Both are wrong. The IPAB is a central component of an integrated menu of provisions in the health reform legislation that promises to slow the runaway growth of health care spending (Henry Aaron, 7/14). 

Politico: IPAB Can Help Health Care Savings
The IPAB can be an important part of identifying and applying the best available policies - not a group of 15 sequestered bureaucrats who issue some irrevocable edict about what care may be provided and to whom it will be available, but a group whose responsibility it is to promote broad discussion and debate about the best policies and come to agreement about how to apply them (Stuart Guterman, 7/15).  

Politico: Guaranteeing Health Care Affordability
[The Affordable Care Act] helps reduce the federal deficit – using measures that can slow growth in both Medicare and overall health spending. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is one such measure. ... The panel helps secure financing for this vital program, which makes health care affordable for older and many disabled Americans. But IPAB also propels the needed transformation of the nation's entire health care payment system - moving it from reliance on mechanisms that reward the delivery of ever more and ever more expensive services, regardless of their contribution to health, to mechanisms that reward high quality care, efficiently provided (Judy Feder, 7/13).

The Sacramento Bee: Relief For Families Raising Autistic Kids 
Gov. Jerry Brown's Department of Managed Health Care has reached an accord with Blue Shield by which it will begin covering the cost of services of a particular type of early intervention therapy, applied behavior analysis. Anthem Blue Cross is contemplating signing the agreement. ... As the issue is fought out in the Legislature and in courts in California and other states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is determining whether the therapy is covered under the Affordable Care Act. ... While all that is being sorted out, Blue Shield has done the right thing by reaching an agreement. Other health care providers should follow (7/15).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Will Minnesotans Write A Better Future?
Our legislative leadership has been right. Demographics (we are aging, and workforce growth is slowing) and escalating health and human services costs create an unsustainable fiscal future. Medical and human-service-related costs are projected to increase 8.5 percent per year; revenue by 4 percent. This trend is unsustainable, and tax increases aren't sufficient to solve the problem. We need dramatic program reforms and a conversation about the proper role of government in our new demographic and economic landscape (Shawn Kershaw, 7/14). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Bad Deal May Be Best They Can Do 
Whether they acknowledge it or not, the GOP's willingness to afflict disabled people with loss of home care services, transit-dependent people with higher fares and homeowners with higher property taxes is not in this state's best interests, nor, over time, in their own (7/14). 

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