KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Sebelius, Vilsack, Weiner Defend Reform Law; Pro/Con On Seniors’ Access To Health Care

McClatchy: A Health Care Law For Rural America
As former governors from states with large rural populations, we cheered this new health-care law. We knew that it would give Americans more freedom in their health-care choices, lower costs and improve the quality of care, especially for those in rural communities. For too long, rural Americans have been getting the short end of the health-care stick, with limited insurance options, fewer doctors and nurses, and higher out-of-pocket expenses. The health-care law is helping to change that (Kathleen Sebelius and Tom Vilsack, 3/23).

The Washington Post: Rep. Weiner Sinks Meat Hooks Into Health-Care Law's Attackers
Democrats would be better off if more of them acted like Weiners. As the first anniversary of the health-care law approached this week, many Democratic lawmakers went to ground, leaving unanswered Republican accusations that the legislation is socialist, unconstitutional, bankrupting the country, destroying the medical system and generally bringing about the apocalypse. But not Anthony Weiner. The New York congressman, a Brooklyn-born streetfighter, held six events Wednesday to defend the law (Dana Milbank, 3/23).

The Sacramento Bee: Year-Old Health Reform Remains Largely Unknown
Americans still have little idea how they can take advantage of the new law. ... That's a failure of congressional Democrats, who ran away from their signature achievement in the 2010 election. It's a failure of President Barack Obama in not employing the bully pulpit to make the case for the reform. It's also the result of congressional Republicans seeking to undermine the law before it has a chance to succeed (3/24).

The Fiscal Times: Obamacare Turns One: No Reason to Celebrate
Instead of lighting candles on a birthday cake, Republicans would like to torch the whole darn 2,409 page bill. Indeed, earlier this year the newly GOP House enthusiastically passed a measure repealing the legislation, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most Americans would support them. Despite assurances that the country would come to admire the healthcare bill, most Americans remain unimpressed (Liz Peek, 3/23). 

Fox News: Health Care Law Is Major Achievement for Obama Administration
President Obama himself has indicated that the law is just a first step and is open to revisions and betterment. He demonstrated this with his openness to eliminating small employers' need to file 1099 forms, something both parties can actually agree on. The Affordable [Health] Care Act is far from perfect, but it is indisputably better than what we had before and counts as a major achievement (Kristen Powers 3/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Forced Into Medicare
This week marks the first anniversary of ObamaCare, and if you are wondering where that coercive law is headed, we'd point to a case in federal court. That's where Judge Rosemary Collyer has ruled that Americans have a legal obligation to accept subpar government health benefits. It remains a remarkable fact that America obliges most citizens over the age of 65 to take that rickety government health plan known as Medicare. Judging by today's growing number of health-savings options (HSAs, medical FSAs), some Americans would prefer to maintain private coverage upon retirement, rather than be compelled into second-rate Medicare (3/24).

Kaiser Health News: No More Senior Moments On The Health Law
Women age 65 and older have plenty to worry about already: our families' health and happiness ... the security of our retirement savings; and, of course, the health care that we -- and those we love -- can access and afford. The federal health law will eliminate many of our worries about cost, quality and continuity of health care. But that truth is being drowned out by fear-mongering talk-radio hosts and lawmakers with political agendas who get in the way of the best interests of their constituents (Judith Lichtman, 3/23).

The Baltimore Sun: Don't Cut Mental Health To Fund Education In Maryland
I am an advocate for adequate funding for public education. ... However, I am also the leader of an organization that provides high-quality services - including mental health services - to thousands of people in this region, and I am deeply disturbed that mental health funds are being used to restore cuts to education, an area that has historically remained untouched while mental health funding has taken a beating, year after year (Russell K. Snyder, 3/23). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: UCare's Finances Are Appropriate
In a recent editorial, the Star Tribune called attention to the issue of health plan reserves but came to the wrong conclusion. UCare, a major Minnesota nonprofit provider of health care to public recipients, should be commended for its offer to make a $30 million contribution to the state treasury to help offset Minnesota's severe budget deficit (Jay Kiedrowski and Bert McKasy, 3/23). 

The Seattle Times: Lawmakers Should Tighten Immunization Rules
Parents ought to be required to prove a health-care provider has informed them of the benefits and risks of immunization before they can opt out of school-entry immunization rules. Immunizing children against nearly a dozen diseases is the best and most cost-effective way to prevent life-threatening disease and disability (3/23).

St. Paul Pioneer Press: Use Technology To Whittle Down Minnesota's Budget Deficit
As we deal with the realities of an aging population and rising health care costs, initiatives in our HHS omnibus bill harness the tools of the 21st century to reduce costs, improve efficiency and deliver services to the most vulnerable in our communities while still being accountable to taxpayers (State Reps. Jim Abeler, Tara Mack and Tim Sanders, 3/23). 

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