KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Voters Want Medicare Protected In ‘Grand Bargain;’ Increases In Taxes Can’t Cover The ‘Fiscal Cliff’; Kids’ Health Needs More Attention

Roll Call: Clay: Adult Moment Needed On Fiscal Cliff 
As the ranking member on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, let me simply state the hard truth. To avoid the fiscal cliff and to get our budget deficit and the national debt under control, we need to do three things simultaneously: cut spending, increase revenue and have the courage to put everything on the table in a responsible, bipartisan manner. ... The Simpson-Bowles commission laid out a road map containing some common-sense parameters to guide us toward a realistic compromise that can actually become law (Rep. William Lacy Clay, 11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama's Left Flank
This week's pressing question is which Barack Obama will show up for his Friday fiscal-cliff talks with Congressional leaders. The president who has hinted he's open to a bipartisan deal? Or the President who on Tuesday threw open the White House to his no-compromise-ever brigades? ... The deficit last fiscal year was $1.1 trillion, and that's before ObamaCare kicks in and the baby boom cohort keeps retiring. Everyone talks about Republicans and taxes as an obstacle to bipartisanship, but the liberal delusion that entitlements can be financed by taxes alone is something Mr. Obama needs to address (11/13).

The Washington Post: Grand Bargain Is The Wrong Solution
In the election eve poll done by the Democracy Corps for the Campaign for America's Future (disclosure: I serve on the board of the Campaign's sister institution, the Institute for America's Future), voters were asked what would be unacceptable in a large deal to reduce deficits. Seventy-nine percent found cuts to Medicare benefits unacceptable;  ... Republicans are arguing yet again for cutting Social Security and Medicare in exchange for lowering tax rates on the wealthy ... Voters just rejected Mitt Romney when he tried to peddle a version of this junk arithmetic (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 11/13).

The New York Post: Beware: ObamaCare's Now Reality
President Obama's re-election and Democratic gains in the US Senate end any possibility of repealing the Obama health law. It will roll out as written, imposing major changes soon on you and your family. If you are uninsured because you can't afford it, help may be on the way. But if you are one of the 250 million Americans with coverage, there are big problems ahead (Betsy McCaughey, 11/12).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Election 2012 And Women's Health 
[E]ven as they celebrate their victories, Democratic Party stalwarts and lovers of the 21st century everywhere can agree that one of the biggest winners in this year's election was public health. From Obama's victory ensuring the life of the Affordable Care Act to the rejection of candidates around the country who attacked women’s health, public health was front and center (Michael Yudell, 11/13).

The New York Times: Women Make History, For Now
On Election Day, American women really did make their mark. Their ascendance can be laid at least in part at the door of right-wing Republicans who mounted what feminists — but not just them — saw as a "war on women," with their opposition to unfettered abortion rights, required insurance coverage for contraceptives and aid to women's health organizations like Planned Parenthood (Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, 11/13). 

Los Angeles Times: Democratic Party's 'New Majority' Far From A Sure Thing
But the most perceptive of these commentators realize that the demographic changes that helped Obama to victory are not cemented in favor of any one party. ... [Alan Draper, a professor of government at St. Lawrence University] believes Democrats need to lock in their electoral majority by delivering on a few key promises: implementing Obamacare, thus bringing health insurance to millions and the promise of their future votes (James Rainey, 11/13).

The Wall Street Journal: A Compounding Fracture At The FDA
The recent deadly outbreak of meningitis caused by spinal injections of a contaminated steroid has cast a spotlight on the practice of pharmacy compounding—when pharmacists mix or adapt medicines to make a specific prescribed treatment. The House and Senate are holding oversight hearings this week on the tragedy that has sickened at least 438 people and is believed to have killed more than 30. ... The FDA will likely say that it doesn't have enough authority to regulate the pharmacies that compound drugs. But the FDA does have enough authority (Scott Gottlieb and Sheldon Bradshaw, 11/13).

San Jose Mercury News: Invest In Kids Like We Do In Seniors And The Military
Budgets reflect choices. ... We talk a good game, but at the federal and state level, we have systematically chosen to invest in support for seniors, the military, "too big to fail" institutions, prisons -- but we have consistently chosen not to protect and support children. … Our level of chronic health problems, such as obesity or asthma, has doubled since 1991, with more than a quarter of our kids now facing these health challenges. That means increased health care costs and lower productivity later in life. In a nutshell, our next generation is sicker, out of shape, in debt, lacking proper education and less socially mobile than those in the recent past (Tom Steyer and Jim Steyer, 11/14).

Houston Chronicle: Uninsured Kids Aren't Only An Urban Problem
Children's Medical Center released a report Monday showing that five booming counties in North Texas are home to twice the national average for children without health insurance. ... We say shocking because some of those counties, such as Collin and Denton, are associated with prosperity and stability. But, as the accompanying chart shows, 16 percent or more of their kids lacked health insurance in 2010. ... Private-sector responses ... will spread health care to more suburban children. But they alone won’t answer the problem. Legislators also should revisit the rates the state pays doctors for treating Medicaid and CHIP patients (11/13).

Houston Chronicle: It's Not Too Late To Avoid America's Looming Diabetes Crisis
Simply put, America's diabetes epidemic is a community problem that demands a community-based solution. It's not too late to stop the crisis and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans. Expanding proven diabetes prevention programs in our communities will promote prevention, provide access to quality care and services, control costs, encourage healthier lifestyles choices and loosen the grip that diabetes has on our citizens, our health care system and our future (Dr. Deneen Vojta, 11/13). 

The New York Times: Saving A Program That Saves Lives 
[In 2010] the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria began a pilot program in which it provided a “co-payment” to the manufacturers of A.C.T.’s, thereby allowing commercial wholesalers and private or government health services to purchase the drugs at a fraction of the already low negotiated price. ... Strikingly, it has worked. ... Still, it may not end well ... The Global Fund is to meet on Wednesday, with American representatives in attendance, to consider what comes next. The recommendations on the table are to cut back, not expand, the subsidy program (Kenneth J. Arrow, 11/13).

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