KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Impact Of ‘Meddling With’ Health Law; Antibiotics On Farms; ‘Let Thritysomethings’ Join Medicare

The Washington Post: Meddling With Obamacare Could Undermine The Whole Thing
[A]ll of these last-minute policy shifts confuse people who were already struggling to understand a complex new system, ... The cumulative effect is that at least some people — we hope not many — will misunderstand their responsibilities under the law or be deterred from seeking coverage. The biggest danger is that the Obama administration is encouraging politicians to meddle in the health-care system every time a few vocal constituents get upset about its requirements (12/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Repeals ObamaCare
It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said "we have to pass" ObamaCare to "find out what's in it." No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act's text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate. ... Mr. Obama is doing through executive fiat what Republicans shut down the government to get him to do. (12/21).

Bloomberg: Premature Panic Over Obamacare
For a law as complicated and controversial as the Affordable Care Act, the line between sensible tinkering and panicked retreat is hard to find. After months of trying, though, the administration of President Barack Obama seems to have crossed it. ... The law can still work to get more Americans decent and affordable health insurance, if it’s allowed to work the way it was designed to. This is no time for the administration to lose its nerve (12/20).

Los Angeles Times: Another Day, Another Leak From Issa, Another Credulous News Report
The sun has risen in the East, so there must be a news report somewhere quoting a partial transcript leaked by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) purporting to show the shortcomings of Obamacare. Bingo! We have not one but two "investigative" news reports, from CBS and ABC, based on the same partial transcript. And both, consequently, have the same level of credibility: none (Michael Hiltzik, 12/20).

The Kansas City Star: More Minefields In The ‘Battle Of Obamacare’
Obamacare doesn’t allow insurance rejections or higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. Powers’ wife found a plan that will be cheaper than what he can get her through his job. ... Powers said he shared his good news with [Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.] office on Wednesday. I asked Moran’s press secretary Thursday if the senator would discuss Powers’ experience on the Senate floor, as he had the case from Wichita. As of Friday afternoon, I had not received a response (Alan Bavley, 12/22).

The Fiscal Times: The Hidden Impact of Obamacare And The Economy
Obamacare has delivered another sucker punch to the middle class. This time it’s sticker shock. Now that a few people can get past the tech problems of and actually see the real cost of insurance plans available, they are finding that Affordable Care is big hit to the family budget. And when the family budget gets hit in the solar plexus, guess what happens to consumer spending and the economy (Jacqueline Leo, 12/22).

USA Today: Ask A Veteran About Government Health Insurance
Charles Skipper is an American hero. ... two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a lifelong battle with post traumatic stress disorder. But you wouldn't know that he's a hero by the way he's been treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Six years after filing a disability claim, he's still waiting for resolution. ... Washington should take note. Whereas VA's problems simply need to be fixed, larger attempts to impose government-run healthcare system on the entire country are a fool's errand. Veterans know this all too well (Pete Hegseth, 12/21).

The New York Times: Santacare Is Coming To Town
To my American constituents, of both the naughty and nice parties, I’m pleased to announce the rollout of the Affordable Gift Act, referred to by the name of its sponsor — yours truly — as Santacare. While Santacare is not a single-giver system, as with sleigh insurance, you must sign up for it, or else incur a penalty of talking on the phone with Uncle Harold in Cleveland about his sleep apnea (Teddy Wayne, 12/21).

Los Angeles Times: A Real Obamacare Fix: Let Thirtysomethings Sign Up For Medicare
As long as we’re unveiling plans willy-nilly, how about letting thirtysomethings like me buy into Medicare? Information on the coverage is readily available, and I like what I see. Virtually every health provider in the country takes Medicare, so I won’t have to find a new doctor. Co-pays are reasonable. Count me in. I’m exactly the type of young, healthy person the health exchanges want. So surely adding me to the Medicare pool could only help the system (Matthew Fleischer, 12/20).

The New York Times: Health Care’s Road To Ruin
There are plenty of interesting ideas being floated to help repair the system, many of which are being used in other countries, where health care spending is often about half of that in the United States. ...  But the nation is fundamentally handicapped in its quest for cheaper health care: All other developed countries rely on a large degree of direct government intervention, negotiation or rate-setting to achieve lower-priced medical treatment for all citizens. That is not politically acceptable here (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 12/21). 

The New York Times: The Peril Of Antibiotic Use On Farms
After years of inaction, the Food and Drug Administration has finally taken an important step to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in animal feed. The goal is to curb the rise of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics used in both human and veterinary medicine. ... [but the move] does not go far enough. (12/21). 

Bloomberg: A Law to Fix Mental-Health Care
In the wake of gun violence such as occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Virginia Tech, commissions are organized and institutional reviews are conducted. Rarely, however, are meaningful reforms proposed. The legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican, is a refreshing change. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 addresses a long list of inadequacies in services for people who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar illness, major depression and other severe conditions (Dr. Sally Satel, 12/22).

The New York Times: For Mothers-to-Be, Finding Health Care In A Group
Recently in a nondescript conference room near Union Square in Manhattan, eight very pregnant women, husbands, boyfriends and a sister sat in a circle around a small patchwork quilt for two hours and talked about managing the discomforts of pregnancy. ... It did not look like what it was: a doctor’s appointment (Tina Rosenburg, 12/21). 

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