KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Tradeoffs Among Access, Quality And Costs’; Obamacare As A Political Issue

The New York Times’ The Upshot: Why Improving Access To Health Care Does Not Save Money
One of the oft-repeated arguments in favor of the Affordable Care Act is that it will reduce people’s need for more intensive care by increasing their access to preventive care. For example, people will use the emergency room less often because they will be able to see primary care physicians. Or, they will not develop as many chronic illnesses because they will be properly screened and treated early on. And they will not require significant and invasive care down the line because they will be better managed ahead of time (Aaron E. Carroll, 7/14). 

The Washington Post: Licensing ‘Dental Therapists’ Could Get More Americans The Care They Need 
In 2009, 830,000 visits to emergency rooms around the country could have been prevented if the patients had seen a dentist earlier. In 2011, more than half of children on Medicaid went without dental care. These facts lie behind the story of Deamonte Driver, a Prince George’s County seventh-grader who died of a preventable infection that spread from his mouth to his brain in 2007. Maryland pushed through some reforms following Deamonte’s death, but the situation across the country has not dramatically improve (7/14).

Fox News: Are Media Downplaying Obamacare Progress — Or Is The GOP Just Giving Up On The Issue?
After a disastrous rollout last fall, ObamaCare has been fading from the news. But is it fading as a political issue? The fear of those who oppose the program was always that it would be impossible to repeal if enough recipients got hooked on the benefits. That was the hope of advocates as well -- that whatever potholes the ObamaCare bus hit, it would keep barreling toward a finish line of getting more Americans insured. ... But now some of the law’s proponents are declaring victory -- and the criticism has quieted down (Howard Kurtz, 7/15).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Engineering A Better Health Care System 
Millions of individuals have gained access to the health care system this year due to the Affordable Care Act. With greater access to health care, there is an increased need to ensure care remains high quality, affordable, and centered around the needs of patients and families. One opportunity for addressing these challenges is through systems engineering, which includes a range of tools to improve efficiency and reliability. These tools have produced substantial benefits in other industries, from manufacturing to aviation, and hold similar promise for health care (Christine K. Cassel and Robert S. Saunders, 7/14).

The New York Times: A Defense Of Reproductive Rights
Facing a torrent of state laws restricting access to safe and legal abortions, supporters of a woman’s right to make her own childbearing decisions have been forced to play a defensive game — trying to block enactment of the laws, and, when that doesn’t work, challenging them in court. An important hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday could begin to move the dynamics of the fight in a positive direction (7/14). 

Los Angeles Times: Who Gains From Those Drug Discount Deals? (Spoiler: Drug Companies)
The pharmaceutical industry has been bragging for nearly a decade now about its efforts to help cash-strapped patients pay for expensive prescription drugs. "An important safety net," the industry says, that has "already helped millions of Americans get free or reduced-cost prescription medicines." It's all about good works and helping the patients, Big Pharma says of these patient assistance programs (Michael Hiltzik, 7/14).

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