KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The Case Against Jenny McCarthy’s Vaccine Stand; Apathy On HIV; Defeating Alzheimer’s

The New York Times: Autism And The Agitator
What do you call someone who sows misinformation, stokes fear, abets behavior that endangers people's health, extracts enormous visibility from doing so and then says the equivalent of "Who? Me?" I'm not aware of any common noun for a bad actor of this sort. But there’s a proper noun: Jenny McCarthy (Frank Bruni, 4/21).

Los Angeles Times: AIDS At 30: Apathy Plus HIV Kills
In the 30 years since we discovered HIV, the stigma surrounding it has lessened, but it has never completely dissipated. And new threats loom: apathy and ignorance. AIDS advocacy groups are suffering from "prevention fatigue." The waning interest in prevention has propelled rising HIV infections in adolescents and young adults in comparison with other age groups. Of the estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that 16 percent do not know their HIV status. ... And in December, the White House announced a $100-million initiative toward finding a cure for HIV. This investment has the potential to make an enormous difference. But research is only one piece of the puzzle. Our ability to treat and cure HIV in the future is threatened by the continued stigma, apathy and ignorance surrounding the virus (Nathalia Holt, 4/21). 

The Wall Street Journal: How Congress Can Fight The Alzheimer's Epidemic
Not many people know it, but one of the best ways to curb future health-care spending is with a drug that slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's affects more than five million seniors today and last year cost Medicare and Medicaid almost $150 billion. ... If we are to have any chance of mitigating this epidemic, we must find ways to encourage the development of drugs that slow the progression or delay the onset of the inevitable brain failure that characterizes Alzheimer's. Specifically, we need to find incentives for the development of drugs that alter the course of the disease (Kenneth Davis, 4/21). 

The Washington Post’s The Plum Line: The Next Anti-Obamacare Talking Point You Can Safely Ignore
In the past few days, health care wonks have noted with some concern that after a period of years when total health care spending in America was slowing, it looks like it has begun to accelerate again. Republicans will probably begin to argue that this uptick is evidence that the Affordable Care Act has failed in one of its key goals, bringing down overall costs. But is this actually something to worry about? With some important caveats I’ll explain in a moment, the answer is no. In fact, in some ways it's a reason to celebrate (Paul Waldman, 4/21). 

Bloomberg: Are Obamacare's Latest Numbers Good News Or Bad?
The good news is that pretty soon, we'll find out what the insurers are thinking; they'll start filing some of their preliminary rate increases in a couple of weeks. My guess would be that those increases will be modest in places such as New York, which had a lot of signups -- and had also nearly destroyed its private insurance market, so that almost any reform would have been an improvement. My guess would be that in other places, where the signups are too old or too few, premiums will jump sharply. I’d also guess that the backdoor bailouts the administration has been arranging through the risk corridors will be enough to keep existing insurers in the market, though maybe not enough to lure many new ones (Megan McArdle, 4/21).

Bloomberg: Why Voters Won't Turn Out For Obamacare
Successful programs guarantee their own success, regardless of subsequent elections. That's very likely to be the case with health-care reform, no matter how people feel about "Obamacare." It’s hard for politicians to take away benefits people like. What successful programs almost never do -- especially those that are targeted widely and don't put pressure on specific groups to realign -- is win elections. And Obamacare, with its largely invisible and abstract benefits, is particularly poorly designed to achieve that particular goal (Jonathan Bernstein, 4/21).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Medicaid Expansion Argument Is Winning In Missouri
In Missouri, that economic impact of expansion could be profound, creating more than 24,000 jobs and actually adding money to Missouri’s general revenue budget. That’s according to studies that the opponents have failed to counter in any meaningful way (4/21).

The Journal of the American Medical Association: CMS -- Engaging Multiple Payers In Payment Reform
The Affordable Care Act created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) to test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ... All of these models share a common pathway for success: they hinge on getting clinicians and health care organizations to manage the health of populations and to act as good stewards of health care resources. ... However, for these models to succeed in the long term, "value-based payment and patient incentives to reward clinicians and health care organizations that offer more real value to patients must spread rapidly to other payers" (Rahul Rajkumar, Patrick H. Conway and Marilyn Tavenner, 4/21). 

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