KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: NY Times Warning On Women’s Rights; WSJ On ‘Romneycare’; Dutch Model For Medicare

The Wall Street Journal: National Health Preview
The ObamaCare preview that Massachusetts has been conducting for the last several years grows more ominous by the month, not that anyone in Washington is paying attention. ... A new survey released yesterday by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state's primary care practices are accepting new patients, down from 70% in 2007, before former Governor Mitt Romney's health-care plan came online. The average wait time for a routine checkup with an internist is 48 days ... Another notable finding in the Medical Society survey is the provider flight from government health care. Merely 43% of internists and 56% of family physicians accept Commonwealth Care, the heavily subsidized middle-class insurance program (5/10).

Forbes: Why Health Care Reform Requires Market Reforms
The American healthcare system is a mess. .... A true healthcare market would not be so opaque that healthcare consumers could not identify prices. Nor would it require consumers to acquire health insurance via their employer. Under presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Massachussettes attempted to solve some of the many problems our healthcare system has created by creating, essentially, Obamacare (though predating the recent healthcare law by several years). The problem is, Romneycare created subsidies for purchasing health insurance without applying market reforms to increase access and competition of healthcare provision (E.D. Kain, 5/9).

The New York Times: New Attacks On Women's Rights
With the help of 16 Democrats, House Republicans passed a bill the other day with the narrow-seeming title of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. ...  In fact, the bill is not really about federal financing for abortion or even preventing insurers from offering any abortion coverage on the insurance exchanges created as part of federal health care reform. The federal Hyde Amendment has long barred federal financing of abortion ... The Smith bill imposes new limitations on abortion access by driving to end abortion insurance coverage in the private market using the nation's tax system as a weapon (5/9). 

Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: For The NAIC, A Consequential Decision On The MLR
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is considering whether to endorse legislation that would remove broker and agent commissions from the medical loss ratio, a calculation that could give consumers valuable insights about the proportion of their premiums spent on health care costs compared with administrative expenses and salaries. Removal would have far-reaching implications for the reliability of the MLR as a measure of a health plan's value, for the broader goal of improving quality and controlling costs, and for the NAIC itself (Stephen Finan et al., 5/9). 

The Washington Post: A Dutch Model For Medicare
The debate over Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed changes for Medicare - replacing guaranteed payment for services with a voucher for most of the cost of purchasing private insurance - is generating a lot of heat. The Dutch might be able to shed a little light. In 2006, the Netherlands shifted its entire population - elderly and sick as well as young and healthy - to a premium-support-based arrangement (Richard B. Saltman, 5/8). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Nursing Shortage Far From Over
After warning of a shortage for years, American hospitals now claim that we have plenty of nurses at the bedside. Hospital administrators are essentially saying that the bad economy is coercing more nurses to stay on the job. Since some nurses' husbands or wives have lost their jobs in other sectors, nurses are hanging on to their own jobs and delaying retirement. But while the economy is taking a toll, the nursing shortage remains a serious problem (Suzanne Gordan, 5/9). 

Health Policy Solutions (Colorado news service): The False Promise Of Health Care Compacts
The latest buzzword among those determined to undermine federal involvement in everything from health care to environmental regulation is "compact." Take, for example, House Bill 1273 (the so-called "HOPE Act"), which recently passed the Colorado House and will be heard in the Senate early this week. It is supposed to be about allowing Colorado to "design the health care regulatory regime that best meets the needs of its citizens." In reality, it's about opting out of the national health care reform law with nothing to replace it (Bob Sembro, 5/9). 

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