KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Dems’ Abortion Policies On The Wrong Side Of Public Opinion; Doctors Need To Be More Accurate In Death Reports

The New York Times: The Contraception Battle
Last week saw two major developments in the legal and political battle over the Obama administration's sound decision to require most employers to provide free insurance coverage of contraceptives for women under the new health care law — one of them positive and the other a blow to the mandate and to religious liberty (7/1).

Bloomberg: Wendy Davis Offers A Warning For Democrats
[Texas state Sen. Wendy] Davis's activism illuminates a larger shift in the politics of abortion, and it poses risks that Democrats are underestimating. ... This time, Republicans actually have a response: legislation that highlights how pro-choice Democrats are out of step with the public. Most Americans think abortion should be legal in cases of rape, but they also think it should be illegal in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy (Ramesh Ponnuru, 7/1).

The New York Times: Making The Right Call, Even In Death
It is one of a doctor's most important final acts in caring for a patient, even though the patient is no longer around to appreciate it. I refer, of course, to filling out the death certificate, a document that has myriad benefits for the living: establishing a legal basis for life insurance and estate settlements; providing critical information to survivors and descendants in an era of burgeoning advances in genetics; advancing knowledge about diseases, accidents and other causes of death; and much else. For all these reasons, the accuracy of the certificates should be a paramount concern for public health, both nationally and internationally. And that is why two recent studies of doctors in New York City teaching hospitals are so unsettling (Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, 7/1).

Los Angeles Times: U.S. Health System Has Flaws, But Not In Quality Of Care
The healthcare system, like the government, is easy to criticize until you need it. And then it's indispensable. I've devoted my fair share of ink and digital bits to talking about what's wrong with healthcare in the United States. I wrote last week about yet another example of loony billing practices. Today, let's appreciate some of the things that make our system extraordinary — maybe not the best in the world, as conservatives are fond of gushing, but pretty darn impressive (David Lazarus, 7/2).

Los Angeles Times: Why The NFL And NBA Should Help Promote Obamacare
Leading congressional Republicans are trying to stop professional sports leagues from encouraging Americans without health insurance to sign up for coverage. Why? Because that would further entrench a law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare -- they're still trying to repeal. Granted, I support the Affordable Care Act, as flawed as it may be. But the GOP's actions still strike me as cutting off one's constituents to spite the president (Jon Healey, 7/1).

The Washington Post: Post Partisan Blog: Democrats Are Trying To Suppress The Confusion And Hide The Cost Of ObamaCare
I don't know if Members of Congress will be hearing about it in town hall gatherings and other meetings back home over the Fourth of July recess, but the rolling thunder of the approaching ObamaCare train can be heard in the distance. Smart Democrats are beginning to get frantic about the need to suppress the confusion and hide the cost of ObamaCare between now and the 2014 midterm elections. We are just three months away from the October 1st enrollment start date and so far, nothing about the ObamaCare implementation process should be politically encouraging for Democrats. In fact, the more people learn about ObamaCare, the more frightened they become (Ed Rogers, 7/1).

The Detroit News: Medicaid Expansion Helpful, Timely
Michigan Senate Republicans have belatedly formed a committee to study expanding Medicaid. Gov. Rick Snyder asked for the expansion many months ago, and the House recently passed a bill that expands Medicaid with certain provisions that must be approved by the federal government. The arguments in favor of expansion are strong (Richard Teets, 7/2).

American Journal Of Nursing: Women And Health Insurance: Whose Interests Are Covered?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) redressed some of the longstanding inequities in women's health care by requiring that certain preventive services such as mammography and screening for gestational diabetes be made available to all women, free of charge. But one of those services, contraception, generated unprecedented controversy: according to the Sunlight Foundation, 147,000 public comments have been logged on both sides of the debate over whether the government should mandate such coverage, especially of religious institutions that object on moral grounds. A proposed rule clarifying the criteria for religious exemption will be finalized by August (Joy Jacobson, 7/2013).

The Wall Street Journal: Pot-Smoking And The Schizophrenia Connection
Recent legislation has permitted the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state. Those who support legalization often tout the lack of serious medical consequences associated with the drug. Most of us know people who used marijuana in high school or college and seem to have suffered no significant medical consequences. As the medical and scientific literature continues to accumulate, however, it is becoming clearer that the claim that marijuana is medically harmless is false (Samuel T. Wilkinson, 7/1). 

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