KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Can Medicare Taxes Really Fund Student Loans?; Daschle On Diabetes And Kids

Los Angeles Times: Student Loans And Social Security Taxes: A Poor Fit
In the case of the student loans, the Democrats' bill would require certain Americans -- high-income partners in small businesses that provide professional services, such as engineering or lobbying -- to pay payroll taxes on their share of the firm's profits. That's a long way of saying the bill would eliminate a tax-avoidance strategy that some small firms use to reduce their contributions to Social Security and Medicare (Jon Healey, 5/9).

The Washington Post: Taxing Jobs Out Of Existence
Congress, ravenous for revenue to fund Obamacare, included in the legislation a 2.3 percent tax on gross revenue — which generally amounts to about a 15 percent tax on most manufacturers' profits — from U.S. sales of medical devices beginning in 2013. This will be piled on top of the 35 percent federal corporate tax, and state and local taxes. The 2.3 percent tax will be a $20 billion blow to an industry that employs more than 400,000, and $20 billion is almost double the industry's annual investment in research and development (George F. Will, 5/9).

Politico: Type 2 Diabetes In Kids Not Child's Play
If ever we needed a wake-up call on the state of American children's health, consider the growing proliferation of Type 2 diabetes in our youth, as detailed in a study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. These findings, which warn of many children and adolescents' alarming future of poor health, are yet another reminder of the serious challenges we face in health care today. ... The U.S. rates of childhood obesity are staggering. So it's no coincidence that we now find Type 2 diabetes — closely linked to obesity — is escalating at unforeseen rates in the same population, demanding the attention given to any other preventable threat to our youth (Tom Daschle, 5/9).

Reuters: The Real Reason Romney Is Struggling With Women Voters
Back in February, things started to look dire for the Romney campaign's ability to attract female voters. Every day brought another story about Republican attacks on reproductive rights: attacks on insurance coverage for contraception, transvaginal probes, all-male panels called in Congress to discuss contraception. ... The Romney campaign responded by trying to change the subject, to jobs and the economy. But if Romney wants to close the gender gap, he should rethink that strategy (Amanda Marcotte, 5/9).

JAMA: Medicare And The Year Ahead: Opportunities For Reform
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in March 2010, it ushered in significant changes to Medicare. ... However, it's clear from the presidential campaign rhetoric, as well as the legislative and political calendar, that Medicare could face additional, potentially dramatic changes in the coming year. The most likely engine for change to Medicare is a confluence of statutory deadlines that some observers think could lead to a bipartisan "grand bargain" (Austin B. Frakt, 5/9).

Sacramento Bee: Doctors Are Often In The Dark About Costs
Commercial Internet sites have some important lessons to offer for the practice of medicine. When shopping online, each time you select an item for purchase – say from Amazon or Lands' End – you place the item in an electronic shopping cart. As you go along, you can monitor the total for your purchase. If the cost is too high, you can eliminate an item or two. You are informed of your cost as you shop. ... [In medicine] there is no "shopping cart total" (Michael Wilkes, 5/10).

Chicago Tribune: More Like This, Please
The Illinois House voted 74-43 to end a generous retirement benefit for state and public university workers, General Assembly members and judges. Sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, the legislation would force about 78,000 retirees to pay more toward their health care costs. The state pays all the premiums for most retirees, costing taxpayers about $800 million a year. Illinois can't afford that (5/10).

Chicago Sun-Times/Herald-News: Reform Plans Overburden The Poor
The state budget and the Medicaid and public pension systems in Illinois must be "reformed" (i.e., receive sharp spending cuts) to achieve fiscal balance. We get that. It's necessary. But we're also sure­ that when the dust settles and the cliches recede, the poorest people in Illinois will suffer the most. They always do. … The working poor are suffering in Illinois, largely because the easiest taxes to raise — excise and sales taxes on gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol, for example — hit the poorest harder than everyone else (5/9).

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