KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Surrender’ By Republicans; ‘Myth’ Of Income Verification; ‘This Fight Didn’t End’

The New York Times: The Republican Surrender 
The health care reform law will not be defunded or delayed. No taxes will be cut, and the deal calls for no new cuts to federal spending or limits to social welfare programs. The only things Republicans achieved were billions of dollars in damage to the economy, harm to the nation’s reputation and a rock-bottom public approval rating (10/16). 

Los Angeles Times: The 'Income Verification' Myth Buried In The Shutdown Deal
The glittering new deal to end the government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis has one tiny little sop to the Republicans. Let's hope they don't break their arms patting themselves on the back about it. The sop is a provision to tighten "income verification" for people applying for federal subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We reported on this provision earlier this week. Here's a little more background. Bottom line: the problem that the new "tightening" is supposed to resolve doesn't even exist (Michael Hiltzik, 10/16). 

USA Today: After Debt Deal, What Now? 
Yes, today's GOP is far less inclined to compromise. Yet all but the most intransigent Tea Party Republicans recognize that the doomed effort to defund Obamacare was, in the words of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a "shameful chapter." Republicans might be cautious about acting for fear of attracting far-right opponents in party primaries. Even so, as the 16-day shutdown lurches to its entirely predictable conclusion, they know that the best interests of the Republican Party are in getting out of the place they're occupying (10/16).

USA Today: Rep. John Fleming: 'This Fight Didn’t End Last Night' 
The battle unified Republicans in repeated efforts to keep government open while shutting down Obamacare. The sequester caps, so hated by Democrats, remain intact. Obamacare's problematic rollout has been highlighted. And the president's move to take the nation to the brink of default will not achieve his political goal of taking back the House. Not only were attempts at defunding Obamacare worth the effort, they remain far from over. While the political debate has ended for the moment, like any prizefight there are many rounds, and this fight didn't end last night. Washington liberals have so much invested in Obamacare, they don't dare admit its failures (Rep. John Fleming, 10/17). 

The New York Times: The Myth Of The Medical-Device Tax 
In the last few days of negotiations in Congress, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices emerged as a key Republican demand. The medical-device industry waged an intense lobbying campaign -- even garnering the support of many Democrats who favored the law -- arguing that the tax would stifle innovation and increase health care costs (Topher Spiro, 10/16).

Los Angeles Times: How To Build A Better Flu Vaccine
The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 killed 583,135 Americans, according to public health authorities at the time. Although we no longer suffer such a high rate of flu deaths, during a non-pandemic season, flu still kills on average thousands each year in this country. From the 1976-77 season to the 2006-07 season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Henry I. Miller, 10/17). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare’s Black Box 
The White House set low expectations for the Affordable Care Act's October 1 debut, so anything remotely competent should have seemed like a success. But three weeks on, the catastrophe that is and the 36 insurance exchanges run by the federal government is an insult to the "glitches" President Obama said were inevitable. This isn't some coding error, or even the Health and Human Service Department's usual incompetence. The failures that have all but disabled ObamaCare are the result of deliberate political choices, which HHS and the White House are compounding with secrecy and stonewalling (10/16). 
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