KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Slicing’ The Safety Net; GOP Health Law Fight Should Have Targeted Cost-Cutting Panel, Not Mandate

The New York Times: A Rockier Pathway To Work
Last month, the House passed a 2013 budget written by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would reduce spending in the category of Education, Training, Employment and Social Services by $16 billion from the previous year, or 22 percent, on top of all the cuts forced by Republicans over several years. The cut in that category is typical of a budget that savages precisely the kind of domestic spending, like job training and Pell grants, needed to help people get off social-safety-net programs, while slicing open the net itself, through big reductions in Medicaid and food stamps (4/9). 

The Washington Post: How Romney Can Solve His Woman Problem
Mitt Romney’s electoral trouble with women — more precisely with college-educated women — is real enough. … The media — ever drawn to simple explanations that reinforce their own cultural expectations — have diagnosed Romney's gender-based electoral weakness as the result of his opposition to the contraceptive mandate. This is both initially plausible and demonstrably false. More than 60 percent of American voters don't even know Romney's position on the mandate. … And when pressed, a majority of women affirm that religious institutions should be exempted from the mandate. … The GOP's main problem is not the contraceptive issue; it is the perception that it has become too ideological on many issues (Michael Gerson, 4/9).

The Wall Street Journal: The Unhappy History Of Running Against The Supreme Court
By scolding the Supreme Court over its 2010 Citizens United decision and cautioning it against declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional, President Obama is ignoring a lesson liberals and progressives should have learned long ago. None has ever succeeded in galvanizing popular opinion against the courts. In American politics, the goal is not to curb the judiciary but to co-opt it (Paul Moreno, 4/9).

Politico: President Obama Wrong To Bully The Supreme Court
Though a former constitutional law professor, the president seems to have forgotten that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of government. It is the court’s job to review our laws, to ensure they don't exceed Congress’s limited authority or violate Americans' constitutional rights. It is not unprecedented for the court to declare a law unconstitutional — the justices do it on a fairly regular basis (Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, 4/10).

USA Today: Health Care, Not Coverage
For the next three months, the Supreme Court will mull the constitutionality of the new health care law. At stake is the government's requirement that its citizens buy private health insurance. But whatever the outcome, it's a foregone conclusion that some fundamental change must be instituted in the financing of health care delivery (Carly Fiorina, 4/9).

USA Today: Editorial: Medicare Cost Panel Is Common Sense
A decade from now, what critics like to call ObamaCare will either be the routine way Americans get health coverage or a historical footnote, and the war against it will be largely forgotten, along with its often silly, over-the-top claims about non-existent "death panels," a government "takeover" of health care and — right now — a battle against an obscure Medicare cost-cutting board that critics say would neuter Congress and foist rationing or worse on the nation's elderly (4/9). 

USA Today: Opposing View: IPAB Is Not The Solution
Imagine that your loved one required surgery, yet you were told by the government that the procedure was unnecessary and wouldn't be covered by Medicare. A Medicare program with the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) crafted by President Obama ensures that this dilemma will become reality for countless seniors (Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., 4/9).

The Dallas Morning News: GOP’s Picked Wrong Health Fight
The real problem with this law, which I hope Congress and the next administration fix, is finding a reliable way to finance the $900 billion measure. The financing of the system of vouchers and state exchanges largely depends upon an unelected panel of experts cutting Medicare’s growth in spending by $500 billion. That approach should worry us all, even those who favor universal coverage. Congress rarely has shown any appetite to control Medicare spending. ... Even if the unelected panel makes real changes, there’s no guarantee Congress will stick to them (William McKenzie, 4/9).

Politico: 'Obamacare': Fairness v. Justice
Obama has called access to free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs for all women a matter of "basic fairness" and a "core principle" that needs to be balanced against the constitutional rights to religious liberty and free speech. To Obama and his allies, the "principle" of free birth control is at least as important as the constitutional right to freedom of religion. ... "Fairness" ... has no place among judges on a court — whose duty is to dispassionately judge a law's constitutionality (Gary Bauer, 4/10).

WBUR: My Dog Gets A Print-Out From His Doctor, Why Don't I?
The vet's electronic health record software makes it easy for the vet and the technician to produce these summaries, so promptly that the payment clerk can routinely hand the printout to us at the end of the visit. The information in the visit summary is significant, actionable, pertinent, timely and specific; in short, it's highly meaningful. … In spreading the use of electronic health records for humans, the powers that be are deciding what constitutes "meaningful use" by doctors of the E.H.R. They're gathering comments from the public until May 7, 2012. We humans are just as deserving as our dogs; we too, should get doctors' orders as clear as our dogs get (Ken Farbstein, 4/9).

WBUR: Filling In The Gaps On Pain Prescriptions
A prominent number quoted in [a New York Times] article -- that, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14,800 people died in 2008 in episodes involving these painkillers -- is correct. And that’s 14,800 too many. No doubt about it. But look at what the article failed to say: That, again according to the CDC, half of all those deaths involving prescription painkillers also involved at least one other drug, including benzodiazepines, cocaine and heroin. And that "alcohol is also involved in many overdose deaths." To blame it all on prescription painkillers -- and pain patients and their doctors -- is simply not the full truth (Judy Foreman, 4/9).

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