KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Wash Post on Berwick; Kagan And Health Reform; COBRA Subsidy Expiration

Donald Berwick, A Nominee Well-Suited To Trim The Fat On Health Care The Washington Post
Dr. Berwick is the perfect nominee to help reshape a health-care system that is wasteful and bloated. He has a track record of understanding how to wring inefficiencies out of health-care systems and improve care in the process. Whatever his vision of the perfect health-care system, as administrator he would be constrained by legal and political realities; he would administer existing programs and help implement the new law (6/29).

Look For Kagan Health Reform Fight Politico
According to the Republican National Committee website, the party's No. 1 issue is to "rigorously question [Supreme Court nominee Elena] Kagan" about where she stands on the "variety of legal challenges [facing] health care overhaul" (Simon Lazarus, 6/29).

COBRA Subsidy Expiration Could Hurt Hospitals The Toronto Star
The federal COBRA subsidy ended on June 1, 2010, and the proposal to extend the benefit hasn't garnered enough votes in the Senate. … While the drop-off in the number of COBRA enrollees is unlikely to have a sustained impact on the majority of health-care companies, acute-care hospitals and other health-care facilities are among the few segments that stand to be hurt by the elimination of the subsidy (Alex Morozov, 6/28).

Covering Preexisting Conditions: High-Risk Pools Vs. Obamacare Mandates National Review
GOP lawmakers can immediately provide much-needed help for the uninsured who have preexisting conditions by providing full funding for state-run high-risk pools (preferably in combination with offering long-overdue tax-breaks for the uninsured, as Ross Douthat advocates). Obamacare would address the problem of covering those with expensive preexisting conditions by mandating that insurers offer them coverage in the regular market, at artificially low rates. For four simple reasons, which Republicans can successfully communicate to voters, the high-risk-pool approach makes colossally more sense (Jeffrey Anderson, 6/28).

Health Care Alternative The Boston Globe
One of the many economic hot-button issues influencing health care involves famous Boston teaching hospitals expanding beyond their city limits deep into the suburbs. Does that bring top-flight medicine to more patients where they live or turn higher-cost health care into another form of suburban sprawl? The question doesn't come with simple black and white answers (Steven Syre, 6/29).

[Gov. Deval] Patrick Needs to Practice What He Preaches The Salem (Mass.) News
There's some merit in Patrick's effort to focus attention on skyrocketing health costs. But there's little merit, as his own insurance appeals board has ruled, in his arbitrary cap on rates; and absolutely none in his refusal to turn over all the public records relating to that decision (6/29).

Portland Hospitals: Unpacking Those Patient Satisfaction Survey Results Oregon Live
Reporting on the quality of health care directly to consumers is the right thing to do, but if the information reported is to be anything more than a superficial review of customer service, we must dig deeper. Patients need to have information that relates to the quality of the care they receive, and that means questioning the causes of patient perceptions (Susan King, 6/28).

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