KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Tea Party & Medicare; Minn. Health Exchange Politics; Fixing Drug Shortages

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Latest Judicial Defeat 
Unlike the Florida district court that earlier found ObamaCare unconstitutional, the 11th Circuit did not invalidate the entire law. But it likewise reaffirmed the fundamental constitutional rule that our federal government is one of enumerated powers with judicially enforceable limits ... The court's opinion also should put to rest claims-advanced for differing reasons by those on the left and right-that the constitutional challenges to ObamaCare are (or should be) attacks on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the modern regulatory state it spawned (David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, 8/18).

The Wall Street Journal: The Tea Party's Achilles' Heel
The tea party freshman in the House of Representatives, together with more senior like-minded members, prevented the Republican leadership from agreeing to deals that would have increased taxes in exchange for largely illusory cuts. As a result, the debt-ceiling deal was significantly better than it would otherwise have been. ... But the next test, and the real test, for the tea party movement is whether it can channel its energy into entitlement reform-and specifically the reform of Medicare. The reason is simple: Our debt explosion is a health-entitlement explosion (Yuval Levin and Peter Wehner, 8/19). 

Syracuse Post-Standard: Health 'Mandate': Insurance Requirement Is Key To Reform's Success
You can't legally drive without a license, auto insurance and vehicle registration - and fastening your seat belt. Your paycheck contains deductions for Social Security and Medicare. Most Americans accept these "mandates" as sensible, even essential. ... Judge Martin in Cincinnati argued that the individual insurance mandate is a reasonable way to finance and regulate the nationwide health insurance market. If this nation is ever to achieve universal health insurance at an affordable cost, that view must prevail (8/19).

Bangor Daily News: 'Rationcare' Would Worsen Health Care Crisis 
[R]ather than addressing the suffering that has pervaded our country, elected leaders in every state have decided that it's time to cut the social safety net of Medicare and Medicaid rather than protect it, or dare I say, enhance it. Under the federal budget passed by House Republicans, Medicaid's guarantee of coverage would be eliminated and the federal contribution to the program would be reduced by nearly $800 billion over the next decade. ... It also ends Medicare as we know it by taking away traditional Medicare benefits and replacing them with a voucher to purchase health insurance in the private market. In other words, the House Republican budget replaces Medicare with Rationcare. ... Don't cut the social safety net. Expand Medicare to all (Lisa Bondeson, 8/18).

(Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune: An Ill-Timed Health Reform Blame Game
The Minnesota Legislature failed this session to accomplish one of its most important tasks: laying the groundwork for the state's health insurance exchange, a task that the state's business community has repeatedly urged legislators to prioritize. … While the Dayton administration could have done more to communicate with GOP leadership, it was clear that legislation to implement an exchange was going nowhere this session. The administration needed to keep things moving so that the state didn't fall further behind. ... the GOP needs to act, not bow to the anti-Obamacare absolutists in the party (8/18). 

Arizona Republic: Left's Lack Of Gratitude Is Hard To Fathom
The hostility and contempt from the left toward Barack Obama is difficult to understand. ... While driving spending and deficits to record levels, Obama got enacted the largest expansion of the social-welfare state since Medicare and Social Security. Under "Obamacare," families earning up to $95,000 a year will be eligible for federal subsidies for health insurance (Robert Robb, 8/19).

The Arizona Republic: A Population Left Behind
Mental-health services in Arizona have been slashed four fiscal years in a row. Elected officials say the pain is necessary and unavoidable. That is not true. Here's why: The cuts were shortsighted, counterproductive and fiscally irresponsible. ... The human costs of cuts to mental-health services are unacceptable. The actual economic costs make this budget-balancing trick a cruel joke (8/19).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Gouging Threatens Supply Of Medicines 
Hospitals across the nation report being asked to pay an average of 650 percent more for medications in short supply. ... no easy solution exists to address the problem. Government cannot order the production of more drugs, but it can work with manufacturers to give pharmacies advance notice of pending shortages. Government can also ease some of the regulatory burdens associated with drug approvals, and expedite quality inspections in emergency situations. But the private sector has a role to play as well (Wayne Oliver and Mike Alkire, 8/18).

Miami Herald: Get The Shots!
Records suggest nearly a quarter of Miami-Dade kindergarteners may not have been vaccinated in time for the start of school Monday, the highest rate in the state. What's perhaps even more disquieting is that for three years, nobody at the Miami-Dade school district noticed as vaccination rates plunged to unsafe levels. That raises troubling questions about lack of oversight at the school district and the county and state Departments of Health (8/18).  

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