KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Rove Warns Against Government Shutdown; ‘Despicable’ GOP Tactics; Medicare Database A Tool To Control Costs

Fox News: Republicans Must Resist Game Of Chicken With President Over Obamacare
President Obama would love nothing more than Republicans’ providing him a bully pulpit and big stick with which he can beat them daily through the 2014 midterm elections.  That’s what the Republicans would give Mr. Obama if they shut down the government by trying to defund Obamacare in the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government after October 1. That’s because the Continuing Resolution only affects discretionary spending.  Virtually all of Obamacare costs are mandatory spending, unaffected by what’s in the CR (Karl Rove, 7/26).

Bloomberg: Drop The Disastrous Plan To Defund Obamacare
Conservatives on Capitol Hill think they have a chance to strike a mortal blow against President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul this fall. If their plan goes forward, however, it will backfire. The plan is to oppose any bill to fund the government or increase the debt limit that also provides money for putting the health-care law in place (Ramesh Ponnuru, 7/26).

The New York Times: The War Over Health Care Exchanges
Federal and state governments are entering the home stretch in the race to carry out the most important health care reform in more than four decades. The most pressing task is to establish new health care exchanges, the electronic marketplaces in which consumers will be able to compare and buy insurance plans just as they buy airplane tickets or rent cars on the Internet. ... To their shame and discredit, Republicans are trying to block efforts to inform people about the law and are using scare tactics to keep them from enrolling. ... Their tactics are despicable (7/26).

Roll Call: Open Exchanges To The Poor In States That Opt Out Of Medicaid
Passage of the Affordable Care Act has positioned the United States to establish a national floor of insurance coverage for nearly all Americans, using an approach that combines employer coverage with Medicaid for the poor and a subsidized health insurance marketplace (exchanges) for people who have neither. Several unexpected twists threaten to derail this effort. The question is how to devise a solution (Sara Rosenbaum and Patricia Gabow, 7/26).

Politico: Give The Public Access To The Medicare Database
For no compelling reason, a commanding tool for trying to contain health care costs is lying unused. That sidelined powerhouse is the Medicare claims database, which holds a record of all payments from taxpayers to physicians and other providers for seniors’ health care (Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden, 7/28).

The Wall Street Journal: The Affordable Care Act's Rate-Setting Won't Work
Although I've been critical of many components of the law, there is still much to applaud. Accountable Care Organizations could eliminate duplicative services and prevent medical errors while seeking to reduce costs for individuals, particularly if their creation ultimately leads to the end of fee-for-service medicine, as I believe it will. In addition, the Health Insurance Marketplace exchange systems, once implemented, will provide individuals with competitive plan options based on price, services, quality and other factors. Even more important, the exchanges will make the process of securing health insurance much easier and more transparent for millions who don't currently have it. … That said, the law still has its flaws, and American lawmakers and citizens have both an opportunity and responsibility to fix them. One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board (Howard Dean, 7/28). 

The Washington Post: Mr. Obama Should Not Ignore Entitlements 
But that’s a far cry from leveling with the public about the fact that Social Security, Medicare and the rest are crowding out other domestic priorities — including those that the president emphasized in his speeches — and that these programs are at the heart of the country’s long-term fiscal challenges, which have still not been addressed even as the deficit has declined in the short term (7/27).

The Hill: Opinion: GOP Gets It Wrong On Health Law
Eighty-three percent of Americans, according to last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, disapprove of Congress. That was the highest level in the history of the poll. The anger is so deep now that 57 percent want the entire Congress thrown out (Juan Williams, 7/29).

The New York Times: News Analysis: The Hype Over Hospital Rankings
Last week U.S. News and World Report released its annual list of “Best Hospitals.” Web sites are being updated to celebrate victories. (Johns Hopkins ranks No. 1!) ... For American hospitals large and small, it clearly pays to advertise, particularly in these tough economic times and with the Affordable Care Act poised to throw tens of millions of newly insured patients into the market. ... Some critics decry the glut of hospital self-promotion as not just wasteful and costly, but also potentially dangerous (Elizabeth Rosenthal, 7/27).

Earlier from KHN: Hospital Ratings Are In The Eye Of The Beholder

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