KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Vinson’s Backdown, Ariz. Death Panels And The Pentagon’s Achilles’ Heel

The New York Times: On Second Thought
A federal district judge in Florida backed down, as he should have, from his effort to bully the Obama administration into halting implementation of the new health care reforms even before the issue of the law's constitutionality is resolved by higher courts (3/9).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Is Worse Than No Coverage At All
Patients would be better off if states were able to tailor the benefits that Medicaid covers - targeting resources to sicker people and giving healthy adults cheaper, basic coverage. But federal rules say that everyone has to get the same package of benefits. ... These rules reflect the ambition of liberal lawmakers who cling to the dogma that Medicaid should be a "comprehensive" benefit. ... Because states are forced to offer everyone everything, the actual payment rates are driven so low that beneficiaries often end up with nothing in practice (Dr. Scott Gottlieb, 3/10).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Analyzing GOP's Budget Strategy
[S]erious deficit reduction must tackle mandatory programs, most notably Medicare and Medicaid. ... Republicans have plenty of ideas on entitlement reform - revamping Medicare into a voucher system, for example - but such changes must move through authorization bills and be conferenced, of course, with the Senate. So why would House Republicans pick the budget resolution to showcase provisions that are bound to face Senate rejection? Their conundrum is that the cuts dominating the current debate are, at once, too large and too small (Helen Fessenden, 3/9).

Los Angeles Times: The Pentagon's Achilles' Heel
The Pentagon currently spends more than $50 billion - about 10 percent of its base budget - on health care, an almost 300 percent increase over the last decade. ... To put this in perspective, the department will spend more on health care this fiscal year than on the war in Iraq and will probably spend more on health care in 2015 than on the conflict in Afghanistan. ... The Pentagon's own studies have laid out the answers to holding down the growth in health care costs for military retirees, as has President Obama's deficit commission (Lawrence Korb, 3/10).

The New York Times: School Of Glock
A sizable chunk of this country seems to feel as though there is nothing so secure that it can't be endangered by Obamacare. It's only a matter of time before somebody discovers that giving everyone access to health insurance poses a terrible threat to the armed forces, or the soybean crop, or poodles (Gail Collins, 3/9).

The Arizona Republic: 'Life Panel' A Counter To 'Death Panel'
At least now we can say this about Arizona: When our politicians formed a Death Panel, citizens created a Life Panel. ... [Eddie] Basha is the patriarch of the Chandler-based grocery chain. He is also a quiet and unrelenting local philanthropist. ... He has teamed up with [Ed Phillips, the former television meteorologist and legislator who heads a consulting firm], along with former Republican legislator and gubernatorial candidate Leo Corbet and several others to try to raise enough money to restore transplant funding for those who were cut off last year by Gov. Grim Reaper and her legislative Death Panel (E. J. Montini, 3/10).

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