KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Disabled ‘Disdain’ A Poisonous Meme? Two Sides On Physician Payments Issue, Letting Mich.’s Community Colleges Train Nurses

The New York Times: Do Liberals Disdain The Disabled?
Disability advocates across the political spectrum strongly supported the 2010 health care reform. They had obvious reasons to do so. The new law provides protections for people with preexisting conditions, regulations to make sure insurers properly cover care for chronic illnesses and expanded coverage for young adults and low-income families. But more is at stake here than factual inaccuracies. Mr. Santorum and Ms. Palin are spreading a poisonous meme: that liberals disdain the disabled and look down upon parents who raise children with physical or intellectual limitations (Harold Pollack, 2/27).

The New York Times: If You Feel OK, Maybe You Are OK
Early diagnosis has become one of the most fundamental precepts of modern medicine. It goes something like this: The best way to keep people healthy is to find out if they have (pick one) heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular problems, osteoporosis or, of course, cancer — early. And the way to find these conditions early is through screening (H. Gilbert Welch, 2/27).

USA Today: Editorial: Who Else Is Paying Your Doctor?
When you get a prescription from your doctor, you shouldn't have to wonder whether his or her decision was influenced by payments from the drug's maker. But little by little, small-bore favors such as free samples, promotional trinkets, tickets to sporting events, and deli trays delivered to the office have evolved into practices that look more like outright bribes (2/27).

USA Today: Opposing View: Physician Payments Sunshine Act's Expensive
Supporters of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act failed to take into account how expensive "sunshine" would be. Requiring drug and medical device manufacturers to publicly report virtually every payment they make to physicians, physician groups and teaching hospitals will end up costing far more than the $224 million estimated for just the first year of compliance. The biggest cost will be the valuable, socially useful physician-industry collaborations that simply won't occur (Lance K. Stell, 2/27). 

Detroit Free Press: Editorial: Expand The Role Of State’s Community Colleges
A bill passed by the state House and now pending before the Senate Education Committee would authorize Michigan's community colleges to offer four-year degrees in five fields, including nursing, thereby giving thousands of students a way to earn degrees in high-demand fields. It would ease Michigan's nursing shortage and give students closer and more affordable options. Michigan's Department of Community Health projects a shortage of more than 18,000 nurses by 2015. Given those demands, state senators ought to pass this bill and send it to the governor's desk (2/28).

The Fiscal Times: Inflating the Deficit with Futile Health Therapies
Experts estimate anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the health care that Americans receive is wasted. It is either ineffective or does more harm than good. To put that in perspective, waste costs anywhere from $250 billion and $750 billion a year, or as much as three-fourths of the annual federal deficit. Yet every effort to curb wasteful spending (health care fraud, though pervasive, is estimated at less than a quarter of the total) has come up short (Goozner, 2/27).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.