KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: David Brooks Sees Growing Concerns About Health Law Implementation; Congress Should Stick To Requirement To Join The Exchanges

The New York Times: Health Chaos Ahead
It was always going to be difficult to implement Obamacare, but even fervent supporters of the law admit that things are going worse than expected. Implementation got off to a bad start because the Obama administration didn't want to release unpopular rules before the election. Regulators have been working hard but are clearly overwhelmed, trying to write rules that influence the entire health care sector — an economic unit roughly the size of France. Republicans in Congress have made things much more difficult by refusing to provide enough money for implementation. By now, everybody involved seems to be in a state of anxiety (David Brooks, 4/25). 

Kansas City Star: Passive Resistance Won't Kill Obamacare Either
Obamacare haters first looked to the U.S. Supreme Court to kill health care reform. When that didn't work, they fixed their hopes on Mitt Romney's election and a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. Foiled again. Opponents in Washington and state legislatures are now turning to passive resistance. If you follow the legislatures in Missouri and Kansas you see how it works. Refuse to set up a state insurance exchange. Turn down an opportunity to reform Medicaid and get more people into health insurance. Cheer Congress as it denies federal agencies the funds needed to get the Affordable Care Act up and running (Barbara Shelly, 4/25).

The New York Times' Taking Note: Tom Harkin's Political Jockeying
No sooner had Congressional Republicans stopped blocking President Obama's nominee to head Medicare and Medicaid to emphasize their opposition to the President on totally separate issues than a leading Democratic senator stepped in to do the same thing. This kind of political jockeying unrelated to the merit of the nominee is destructive no matter which party is doing it (Philip M. Boffey, 4/25).

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Avert The Mental Health Crisis: Expand Medicaid In Missouri
Missouri went on to establish the first mental hospital west of the Mississippi at Fulton. Missouri has been continuously committed ever since to serving those with serious mental illness. That covenant is now in jeopardy of being critically compromised due to the Legislature's plan to reject Medicaid expansion for the state (Karl Wilson and Mark Utterback, 4/26).

Florida Sun Sentinel: Healthy Florida Program Would Provide Shot In The Arm For Needy Families
The time has come for the Florida Legislature to take action to provide health coverage for those most in need. The choice facing us is which plan provides more Floridians the most affordable health care possible. It is evident that the House plan limits not only the number of potential enrollees, but also places huge obstacles to accessing that care. The plan I advocate will provide meaningful coverage for nearly 10 times the number of Floridians. The economic health of our state hinges upon the health of its citizens. The plan I support will provide a way for as many uninsured Floridians as possible to get and stay healthy (State Rep. Mike Fasano, 4/26). 

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Growing Evidence: Corbett Should Heed The Pa. Reports On Medicaid
Every week seems to bring fresh evidence that expanding the state's Medicaid eligibility rules under the federal Affordable Care Act would be good for Pennsylvania. Let's hope Gov. Tom Corbett is paying attention. ... There are slight variations in their numbers, but the Pennsylvania Economy League, Rand Corp. and, most recently, the state's Independent Fiscal Office all reached the same conclusion: Expanding Medicaid will mean health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of additional Pennsylvanians, could create thousands of new jobs in the state and will trigger billions of dollars in economic activity (4/26).

Arizona Republic: Why Is Medicaid Expansion Even An Issue At This Point?
Arizona Republicans in the Legislature held a press conference this morning to denounce Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to expand Medicaid to insure nearly 300,000 people, all without doing massive damage to the state’s budget. I wish I'd gone because I would have loved to ask those who oppose Brewer's plan one simple question: Which of you wants to be the one to inform 63,000 childless adults in this state – people whom voters in 2000 said they wanted to cover with AHCCCS – that they're being cut off? … That’s certainly an option, if the Arizona Legislature decides to terminate coverage for childless adults under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (Laurie Roberts, 4/25).

Bloomberg: What's So Bad About Grassley's Obamacare Amendment?
Ezra Klein and Brian Beutler are writing about today's latest mini-outrage: Some Congressional offices are looking for a workaround for the Grassley Amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which states that Congress can't offer its employees health plans that are not on the Obamacare insurance exchanges. Grassley devised the amendment as a "gotcha" during the debate over health reform. It was intended to demonstrate that congressional staff would want to avoid the exchanges; instead, Democrats surprised him by agreeing to make his proposal law (Josh Barro, 4/25).

The Washington Post Wonkblog: No, Congress Isn’t Trying To Exempt Itself From Obamacare
There’s no effort to "exempt" Congress from Obamacare. No matter how this shakes out, Congress will have to follow the law, just like everyone else does. Based on conversations I’ve had with a number of the staffs involved in these talks, the actual issue here is far less interesting, and far less explosive, than an exemption. Rather, a Republican amendment meant to embarrass Democrats and a too-clever-by-half Democratic response has possibly created a problem in which the federal government can’t make its normal contribution to the insurance premiums of congressional staffers. ... [Sen. Chuck] Grassley's amendment means that the largest employer in the country is required to put some of its employees — the ones working for Congress — on the exchanges. But the exchanges don't have any procedures for handling premium contributions for large employers (Ezra Klein, 4/25).

Fox News: Obama Must Help Small Business Owners With Burden Of Health Care Law
The health care law is "the most disruptive instrument to the American workplace in my lifetime." That’s the perspective of Richmond businessman William J. Goldin, Jr., president of family-owned Strange's Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers since 1978, who testified before the Small Business Committee last week. Even proponents of the controversial health care law are now worried, as the predictable problems become a reality (Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., 4/25).

The New York Times: Room For Debate: Organ Donors Behind Bars
Utah recently became the first state to explicitly permit general prisoners – not death-row inmates – to donate their organs if they die while incarcerated. Should more states have laws like this? Should prisoners be allowed to make live donations to people other than family members? And with nearly 118,000 people in the U.S. waiting for hearts, kidneys, livers and other life-saving transplants, why not include death-row inmates? (4/25).

The Medicare NewsGroup: To Impove Health Outcomes, AMA Tackles Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes
As part of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) three-part strategy, we have launched the first phase of an initiative to measurably improve patient health outcomes for two of the nation's most troubling disease burdens. Our initial focus is on preventing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and also improving outcomes for those already living with these conditions. The AMA is committing its focus, resources and deep public health knowledge to work side by side with physicians and care teams, patients and families, communities and public health agencies to reduce the prevalence of these two diseases (Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, 4/25).

Politico: End Childhood Hunger In America
There are more than 16 million kids in America who are struggling with hunger and who need our help. My marching orders that day were to ensure that every reporter in the room understood that hunger is a solvable problem. I wanted them to know that there are programs and federal dollars already in place to help these kids. We don’t need to create new solutions, we just need to help kids take advantage of existing programs like school breakfast, the Summer Food Service Program and the after-school meals program. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. They don’t have a voice in the halls of Congress. So I speak for them, to whoever will listen (Jeff Bridges, 4/26).

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