KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Protecting Us From Counterfeit Medicines; Simpson-Bowles And The Health Law

Bloomberg: Governors Have No Excuse Not To Build Insurance Exchanges
HHS has made it clear that after federally operated exchanges are up and running, states may eventually take over operations. This seems like wasted effort. States have the information they need to move on insurance exchanges. Governors who care about fiscal responsibility, strong state government and the basic welfare of their residents would do well to get with the program (11/20).

The Dallas Morning News: Terribly Costly Medicaid Expansion Buys Less Than Claimed
At first glance, expansion looks like a good deal for states: The federal government will initially pay for 100 percent of the cost of new enrollees and gradually roll back to 90 percent by 2020. But it’s unlikely the federal government will continue to subsidize Medicaid at 90 percent for very long after 2020. ... It is a classic “buy now and pay later” scheme. The long-term costs of Medicaid expansion will impose a huge fiscal burden that state budgets, already strained by a failing system, cannot bear (John Davidson, 11/20).

The Medicare NewsGroup: The Return Of Simpson-Bowles In The Medicare Debate
While mentioning "premium support" in passing, [Simpson-Bowles] never really endorsed the concept. The plan built upon some core principles in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while pushing forward some controversial pieces, such as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SRG), or "doc fix." … By using the ACA as a foundation, Simpson-Bowles gives a nod to the fundamental approach of President Obama's strategy: reform the program internally, pass along more costs, and restructure payments and treatment modes (John F. Wasik, 11/20).  

Los Angeles Times: Avoiding The 'Fiscal Cliff' But Falling Anyway
[T]budget-cutting juggernaut rolls on, apparently on the principle that if you're going to extract higher taxes from the wealthy, you have to offer in return more "sacrifices" from retirees living on Social Security, less healthcare for seniors, more transfers of crucial programs from the federal government to already strapped states and municipalities (Michael Hiltzik, 11/21).

Los Angeles Times: Grover Norquist The Has-Been
Grover Norquist is losing his grip. It once seemed as if Washington's most powerful anti-tax crusader had the Republican Party firmly in hand. ... Even Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), usually a hard-liner, said last week that he was "open to new revenue" as long as it was accompanied by cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs (Doyle McManus, 11/21).

The New York Times: Deadly Fake Medicines 
The world’s medicine supply is under attack. ... It is estimated that at least 100,000 people die every year from substandard and falsified medicines for cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases and other ailments. This week delegates from about 100 member countries of the World Health Organization are meeting in Buenos Aires with the aim of strengthening defenses against substandard and fraudulent medicines. The meeting is extremely important, but to make progress a number of hurdles will have to be overcome (Amir Attaran and Roger Bate, 11/20).

Journal of the AMA: Emergency Preparedness and Public Health: The Lessons of Hurricane Sandy
It is a familiar story—a superstorm comes ashore, infrastructure is overwhelmed, and health care facilities evacuate patients, with major delays in returning to normal functioning. Afterwards, policy makers evaluate lessons learned for the next disaster, but similar missteps are often repeated. Why did some health care facilities with the same risk level evacuate while others did not? Although the 2 storms were different in many ways, it is instructive to compare Hurricane Katrina with the still-unfolding events of Sandy (Dr. Tia Powell, Dr. Dan Hanfling and Lawrence O. Gostin, 11/16).

Baltimore Sun: An Unhealthy Fear Of Fatty Foods 
Hostess is struggling to escape the Great Recession sandpit, or get bought out. Yet this octogenarian snack king is really just the victim of another movement sweeping the country over the past couple decades: "low-fat" and "health food" trends, and the current government-sponsored anti-obesity campaign. ... One unintended consequence of anti-obesity campaigns (which are filtering into our schools) is clear, according to health experts: an increasingly all-consuming fear of gaining weight and an unhealthy relationship with food (Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson, 11/20).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Time For A Bipartisan Solution To State Health Exchange
Speaking to a group of St. Louis business leaders last week, the new speaker of the Missouri House, Tim Jones, R-Eureka, suggested that lawmakers might eventually design a state health insurance exchange, rather than leaving the task to the federal government. This is great news. Feuding over health exchanges is a futile rear action in the political war against the Affordable Care Act (11/21).

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