KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Obama Took Risk On Budget Offer And Was Slammed By Rep. Ryan; Health Law Could ‘Quash’ Progress On Spending

Bloomberg: Obama's Budget Put The Onus On Ryan 
Obama took a risk and proposed a budget containing cuts to entitlements cherished by his party. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and his cohorts were unmoved; they wouldn't give an inch on new revenue. Simpson and Bowles gave Obama a pat on the back and largely refrained from criticizing Ryan or House Speaker John Boehner, while corporate leaders ducked. Moreover, Simpson and Bowles have revised their plan and moved to the right, proposing proportionately more spending cuts and less in new revenue. Obama is playing ball, Ryan isn't, and the two deficit hawks, and their CEO supporters, are rewarding the guy who is stiffing them (Albert R. Hunt, 5/12).

Los Angeles Times: Mother Knows Best
There are two things you can do for your mother on Mother's Day. One is to say "thank you." (Over lunch, with flowers.) The other is to ask her for advice -- even if she's not convinced you really want it. ... [Lois Doyle McManus has] got some advice for Congress as it ponders taxes and spending: Go ahead and bite the bullet. Elderly voters aren't as naive, or as greedy, as you seem to take them for. "They're going to have to fix Social Security and Medicare. Those of us who are using it are aware of it. There's something terribly wrong with a medical system that spends as much money as this. We're willing to do our part" (Doyle McManus, 5/12).

The Wall Street Journal: The Health Spending Decline
To the surprise of both political parties and planners of all types, American health-care spending appears to be slowing down. The health growth rate has flattened out at about 3.9 percent over the last three years -- a record low since the 1960s and down from the old normal of 6.2 percent to 9.7 percent in the 2000s. This is rare good economic news, given that health cost growth sends federal entitlement spending soaring and erodes middle-class wage increases. Can this trend last? Maybe, though not with the Affordable Care Act looming to quash any progress (5/12). 

USA Today: The ObamaCare Train Wreck
When the Affordable Care Act was passed, opponents (mostly Republicans) warned that it would be a disaster. Few of us on Capitol Hill could have anticipated that we would later be joined by a raft of former Democratic proponents so eager to distance themselves from ObamaCare that they're using even harsher terms. Let's call these politicians the Train Wreck Club (Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., 5/10). 

Scripps Howard News Service: Today’s Hospital Pricing Shows A Sickening Disparity
Don’t feel bad if you don't understand the wide, sometimes huge, discrepancies in fees hospitals charge for the same procedure. Or if you don't understand the arithmetical magic the hospitals use to arrive at those fees. Neither does the federal government. Their officials are mystified, too (5/13).

WBUR: Cognoscenti: Complex, Flawed -- And Necessary: Here Comes ObamaCare
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the news, the dorsal fin of Obamacare has sliced the water's surface. Diehard opponents vow to make next year's midterm elections a referendum on a law they've disparaged as socialist claptrap. Meanwhile, conservative pundit David Brooks spies logistical icebergs ahead as the hellishly complex reforms are implemented. Brooks's concern, based on interviews with experts pro and con, is legitimate but manageable. As for the socialism charge, remember this if nothing else: Mandatory national health insurance was the brainchild of an anti-socialist reactionary (Rich Barlow, 5/13). 

Houston Chronicle: Texas Should Restore Women's Health Care Funding
I would love to report that on this Mother's Day, women's health care is exactly where it should be in Texas: Regardless of her station in life, your mother, wife, daughter, sister or friend has access to the care she needs. But women's health care in Texas is in crisis. The safety net that's supposed to ensure women have access to preventive care and contraceptive services is in tatters, and it has been ever since the Legislature made deep and disproportionate cuts to the state's family planning program last session -- cuts that may soon be reversed (Janet Realini, 5/11).

Sacramento Bee: Steinberg Plan For Mental Health Has Real Merit
Important legislation is emerging that would significantly improve care for the most severely mentally ill people in California. Proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the package of bills warrants serious consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown, even though the measures would add to state costs, at least in the short run. Among his proposals, Steinberg is calling for construction or leasing of facilities that would provide 2,000 beds controlled by counties for individuals who are in the midst of crisis (5/11).  

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