KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: GOP ‘Obsession’ With Health Law Prevents Progress On Key Financial Issues; The ‘Fantasy Of Fertility;’ VA Is ‘Model’ For Transforming U.S. Medicine

Los Angeles Times: GOP's Unhealthy Obsession With Obamacare
Try as they might, House Republican leaders are having trouble stopping their colleagues from shooting themselves in the foot -- again. Having failed to approve any of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund federal agencies, Congress has to pass a stopgap spending bill by Sept. 30 to keep much of the federal government from shutting down. But rank-and-file Republicans in the House are resisting their leadership's proposed stopgap because it wouldn't necessarily block funding for the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. ... The House GOP needs to stop fighting a battle on Obamacare it can't win and get to work instead on the long-delayed "grand bargain" (9/12).

The New York Times: Selling The Fantasy Of Fertility
On Sunday in New York City, a trade show called Fertility Planit will showcase the latest inventions in the world of reproductive medicine under a banner that reads: "Everything You Need to Create Your Family." Two dozen sessions will feature many of the sponsors' products and therapies, with an emphasis on hopeful breakthroughs ranging from genetic testing to embryo thawing techniques to genome sequencing. But the fair's most powerful strategy is the suggestion that all your answers can be found within the event hall -- and that the power to overcome infertility can be found within yourself (Miriam Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos, 9/11).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Will The Cost Of Health Insurance Under The ACA Be Lower Than Expected
As we approach October 1, the date insurance exchanges will open for business, the news has been consumed with speculation as to how the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will proceed. … When the ACA was passed, many scoffed at projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the law's future cost. They believed that reform would be much more expensive than the CBO's estimates. Ironically, it turns out those projections may have been too high (Dr. Aaron Carroll, 9/11).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Balancing AMCs' Missions and Health Care Costs -- Mission Impossible?
When major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are implemented next January, few institutions will feel the pressure to control costs more acutely than academic medical centers (AMCs), which must balance the imperatives of clinical care with cost-intensive missions in research, teaching, and community health. ... AMCs' complex organizational structures and historical focus on tertiary inpatient care may appear incongruent with success in contracts requiring commitment to change and reduced use of hospital services. Charting our course under the current economic pressures won't be easy. But our AMCs have built their reputations by addressing society's most pressing health care challenges, and today's central challenge is the rising cost of health care. Fortunately, AMCs specialize in innovation (Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Timothy G. Ferris, M.D., M.P.H., and Peter L. Slavin, M.D., 9/12).

JAMA Surgery: This Is Not Your Father's VA
For many years, perceptions of the VA were crystallized in Oliver Stone's 1989 movie Born on the Fourth of July. In that movie, a VA hospital was characterized by apathetic staff, disengaged physicians, rampant drug use among patients, and old, malfunctioning equipment. The image of the VA was further tarnished in 2007 with the revelations of unsatisfactory conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a U.S. Department of Defense medical center that is not part of the VA. Finally, the recent, highly publicized concerns about delays in the processing of veterans' benefits have been incorrectly assumed to imply delayed or inefficient care in VA hospitals. In fact, the VA's health care system has become a model for the transformation of American medicine in the 21st century (Dr. Kamal M. F. Itani, 9/11).

The Washington Times: Compounding Obamacare
Most Americans think their pharmacists are doing fine now, without the federal government's help. Pharmacists, Gallup tells us, are second only to nurses on the list of America's most trusted professionals; 75 percent of those surveyed say pharmacists live up to high ethical standards. The federal government is scheming to take oversight of compounding pharmacies out of the hands of state authorities and put it in the hands of those who can only dream of positive ratings like those of pharmacists. Congressmen, at 10 percent, are found at the bottom of the trust list with used car salesmen (and Washington journalists). (9/11).

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