KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Health Reform And The Constitution; Fixing The Medicare ‘Doc Fix;’ End-Of-Life Care

The Republicans And The Constitution The New York Times
The most urgent current test of government power is now slowly making its way through the legal system to the Supreme Court. Twenty states have joined lawsuits saying the national health care law is unconstitutional, particularly the provision requiring health insurance. Lawmakers, anticipating the challenge, explicitly inserted a line in the law that the insurance mandate 'substantially affects interstate commerce.' They also say it is based on the government's fundamental power to tax. It is hard to see how the current court will disagree (7/19).

Suing Obamacare The American Spectator
While the lawsuit brought by twenty States challenging the constitutionality of the Obama Administration's healthcare legislation initially received much publicity, the Administration's recent response to that lawsuit has garnered relatively little attention. However, even a cursory review of the Administration's motion to dismiss the case presents an expansive view of government power and a narrow construction of individual liberties that is profoundly troubling (Douglas Smith, 7/20).

The ObamaCare Lies Are Still Coming The New York Post
Since he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a bit more than 100 days ago, the president has given a number of speeches and interviews in which he continues to say things that, well, just aren't so. Just last Friday, he told MSNBC's Chuck Todd that the law 'not only makes sure everybody has access to coverage but is reducing costs.' Wrong on both counts (Michael Tanner, 7/20).

Medicare Needs Systemic Remedies The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
On June 25, President Barack Obama signed a bill to 'fix' payments to doctors by Medicare - until November. Although costing taxpayers $6.5 billion, this short-term patch will just have to be 'fixed' again right after the next election. Throwing more money at a broken Medicare reimbursement schedule is what passes for bipartisan success in Washington. … The federal government needs to pull the plug on this system, and convert Medicare's budget for physicians to individual vouchers. This would limit taxpayers' liability and allow Medicare patients and their doctors to determine the value of medical procedures (John Graham, 7/19).

The Technocracy Boom The New York Times
When historians look back on the period between 2001 and 2011, they will be amazed that a nation that professed to hate bureaucracy produced so much of it. … This progressive era amounts to a high-stakes test. If the country remains safe and the health care and financial reforms work, then we will have witnessed a life-altering event. We'll have received powerful evidence that central regulations can successfully organize fast-moving information-age societies. If the reforms fail - if they kick off devastating unintended consequences or saddle the country with a maze of sclerotic regulations - then the popular backlash will be ferocious (David Brooks, 7/19).

Fill Out End-Of-Life Forms To Ease Your Mind The Orange County Register
There must be a reason, one that's beyond me, why so many people avoid filling out basic legal forms for end-of-life issues, like the durable power of attorney for finances and the advance directive for health care. The theory seems to be that if you don't talk about getting old and (shhh!) dying, it will never happen. … Simply put: Face the facts, ladies and gentlemen. Get these forms filled out and you can relax. At least, for a while (Jane Glenn Haas, 7/13). 

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