KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Major News Organizations Opine On Ryan Plan

CNN: Paul Ryan: the Dr. Kevorkian of Medicare
Only among Beltway elites is it considered courageous to deny ill and infirm seniors the health care they deserve. ... There is no doubt that Mr. Ryan is bright. He is also engaging and charming. But forgive me if I fail to see the courage in a young and privileged man harming the most vulnerable while rewarding the most wealthy. ... Mr. Ryan -- who estimates his net worth at up to $2.4 million -- has no calluses on his hands. Just on his heart (Paul Begala, 4/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicare For A New Century
Liberals seem delighted that Paul Ryan and the GOP have decided to charge the fixed bayonets of Medicare reform, denouncing the new House budget as a crime against seniors, humanity, and so on. Republicans are taking a huge political risk, but they are now setting the reform agenda, and their honesty may even oblige a national debate about the future of an entitlement state that can't survive in its current form (4/6). 

San Jose Mercury News: GOP Budget Is Balanced On Seniors And Lower Income Americans
Ryan's comparable blow to Medicaid reduces benefits and eligibility and results in serious repercussions for millions who rely on Medicaid for critical care. Ryan ridicules America's majority, who in recent polls said cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are unacceptable (Rep. Mike Honda, 4/6). 

The Fiscal Times: Ryan's Budget Proposal: Anything But Extreme
If anything, Ryan could have, and should have, gone further. ... since Ryan's Medicare proposals would actually produce a better program with more choices for seniors, while saving money, it is a mystery why, other than politics, he delayed its implementation until 2022 (Michael Tanner, 4/6).

Los Angeles Times: The Choice Between Low Taxes Vs. Medicare Benefits
[T]he best effect of Ryan's proposal may be that it makes a basic choice clear. If you want to cut the deficit, you're going to have to agree to higher taxes or deep cuts in Medicare and other health programs, or - most likely - a mixture of the two. You can't keep your Medicare and keep your tax cuts too; that's a big part of how we got into this mess (Doyle McManus, 4/7). 

Chicago Tribune: Reforming Medicare For The Real World 
Eventually, someone has to pay for all the health care the elderly get. In the past, the cost has been passed on to younger workers. As the senior population expands and the labor force fails to keep pace, that trick will no longer be feasible. When a Ponzi scheme runs out of victims, it ends in tears. Critics can offer different solutions, but there is no escaping the constraints at work here. The reason people will dislike what Ryan offers is not that he's needlessly cruel. It's that his plan confronts reality, and reality bites (Steve Chapman, 4/7). 

The Washington Post: For Moderates, No More Fence-Straddling On The Budget
What's striking is that Ryan is pushing moderates to stand up for a government that will have enough money to perform the functions now seen as basic in the 21st century. These notably include helping those who can't afford health insurance to get decent medical care, a goal Ryan would have the government abandon, slowly but surely (E.J. Dionne Jr., 4/6).

The Baltimore Sun: Privatizing Medicare: Do Insurers Even Want Older Customers?
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposes doing away with the current Medicare system for those under age 55, and replace it with a stipend that will help them buy coverage from private insurers. … But Medicare - created five years before Ryan was born, so he can be forgiven for not remembering the history - was created because insurers weren't interested in covering older Americans who are likely to develop pricey health problems. Medicare was designed to assure that the elderly had access to affordable insurance (Eileen Ambrose, 4/6).

The Baltimore Sun: Health Care Reform Takes Toll On Jobs
In fact, the health care law is not only causing many businesses to drop or scale back their insurance plans - it's also preventing them from creating jobs. A new National Association of Health Underwriters survey of nearly 2,400 insurance agents and brokers - who interact on a daily basis with employers who provide health insurance - hammers home the stark reality of the new law. More than half of brokers - 52 percent - report that some of their clients have dropped coverage altogether because of increased costs, which they attribute to health reform (Janet Trautwein, 4/6). 

USA Today: Our View: When Pure Profit Drives Drugmakers, You Pay
How does a drug that reduces the risk of dangerous preterm births shoot up in price overnight from an average $15 a dose to nearly $1,500? That's what happened with a drug called Makena. The story of its price rise - and subsequent fall - says a lot about why health care costs are rising and how they might be curbed (4/6). 

USA Today: Opposing View: FDA Approval Costs More
Every woman deserves a medication approved and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and available when needed. Makena{trade}, an FDA-approved medication, fulfills important unmet needs for women at high-risk. In comparison with non-FDA approved compounded drugs, Makena is manufactured in an FDA-regulated and FDA-compliant, sterile facility, with tight controls in place to ensure that every dose has the same quality and consistency - particularly important for a medication administered as a weekly injection (Greg Divis, 4/6). 

Kaiser Health News: Debunking The Mythology: The Utah And Massachusetts Health Exchanges
Much has been made of the health insurance exchanges in Utah and Massachusetts -- for many observers they sit on opposite points of a continuum of what exchanges can and should provide for consumers and small businesses. As one Utah official put it, the two exchange models "may well serve as bookends for other states." But is that really true? (Sabrina Corlette, 4/6). 

The Arizona Republic: Thanks, Governor. Seriously. Thanks.
The budget containing the language to restore transplant funding is only words on paper.  ...  Even when the program is up and running, some patients will be left behind. There are 96 patients on the AHCCCS list who require life-saving transplants. But there are others (we don't know how many) who never got on the list after the program was suspended. ... Still, although there are unanswered questions and political disagreements, if the governor is correct, then some patients will be saved. And for that we all should say: Thank you (E. J. Montini, 4/7).

Los Angeles Times: Difficult Budget Choices That Impact Children's Programs
A lawsuit by three county agencies challenges the Legislature's decision to take $1 billion from preschool programs and spend it on healthcare for poor children. ... It should be apparent to everyone that the choices facing lawmakers are tough ones, and that they are only made more difficult by ballot measures mandating spending or cordoning off tax revenues for specific purposes (4/7). 

Star Tribune: Health Plan Cap Raises New Questions
Gov. Mark Dayton has waged an admirable crusade to wring savings from the management of state medical programs by Minnesota's nonprofit health insurers. But his latest announcement -- an agreement to cap the four largest plans' 2011 public program profits -- deserves to be greeted with healthy dose of skepticism (4/6). 

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