KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Mixing Politics And Deficit Cutting; Transparency In Health Care; Doctors’ Salaries

The New York Times: A Call For Fairness 
On the spending side, the president’s plan takes a sensible approach toward saving money in Medicare and Medicaid. More than 90 percent of the $248 billion in Medicare cuts over 10 years would come from reducing payments to drug companies and health care providers that are unnecessarily high (9/19).

The Washington Post: In Debt Plan, Mr. Obama Goes 'Medium'
The other essential element of credible debt reduction is tackling the biggest driver of long-term deficits — federal health spending, particularly Medicare. Here Mr. Obama backed away from some of the entitlement reforms he entertained in his closed-door discussions with House Speaker John Boehner, including raising the eligibility age for Medicare (9/19).

USA Today: Editorial: Politics Takes Priority In Obama's Deficit Plan
The administration hopes money-saving pilot projects in the health reform law will eventually control costs. If that's not enough, Obama's new plan proposes to cap Medicare costs at half a percent above the rate of economic growth. But the plan would save just 3.8% of the $6.5 trillion Medicare is expected to spend over the next decade (9/19).

USA Today: Other Views: From John Boehner, Nancy LeaMond, May MacGuineas, Daniel Mintz and Emily Goff (9/19).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Medicare, Medicaid And Obama
The changes outlined by Obama Monday will bend the cost curve somewhat — and will come on top of other savings projected from the federal health reform law — but they won’t be enough to put [Medicare and Medicaid] on the path to sustainability (Jill Burcum, 9/19).

The Wall Street Journal: More Transparency, Better Health Care
As the debate over how best to reform our wasteful health-care system continues, there is one measure we can implement immediately to improve quality and rein in runaway costs—the public release of data from the Medicare program, as required by a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The need for change is striking (George Shultz, Arnold Milstein and Robert Krughoff, 9/20).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/McClatchy: U.S. Doctors Earn Much More Than Their European Counterparts 
The American health care system is a sprawling behemoth with an almost infinite number of moving parts. Controlling its costs is the key to the future of the American economy.  ... An article published in 2003 in Health Affairs still rings true. The title: "It's the Prices, Stupid: Why the United States is So Different From Other Countries"  (9/19).

Georgia Health News: Most Doctors Have Lost Faith In AMA
Many physicians also question the AMA’s commitment to its doctors because it has failed to weigh in on legal challenges to the health reform law. It is not in favor of repeal but often cites the "good parts of the law." And months continue to go by without action on tort reform. Doctors feel that the AMA is looking out for itself, and not for its constituents (Dr. Hal Scherz, 9/19).

Des Moines Register: Bachmann's Vaccine Comment Can Harm The Public
There is no scientific evidence to back up such a claim about a vaccine for the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. Side effects are rare and usually minor. But more troubling is that she repeated on national television what an unidentified woman told her about the vaccine. She presented it as true (9/20).

Los Angeles Times: Using Plastic To Pay Anthem Bill? Prepare To Lose Your Coverage
Notice of cancellation was a shock to one policyholder who had been making automatic payments with her credit card. It's just one case involving a policy switch at the health insurer (David Lazarus, 9/20).

San Francisco Chronicle: Which Bills Should Gov. Jerry Brown Veto?
[H]ere are two worth signing: Epilepsy (SB161): Allows schools to train non-medical-school employees to volunteer to administer antiseizure medication to students with epilepsy. Sterile needles (SB41): Allows (not requires) cities and counties to allow pharmacists to sell an adult customer up to 30 hypodermic needles per month without prescription, a critical tool in reducing the spread of the AIDS virus (9/20).

KQED: Government Lifeline
I'll be gauche and tell you what I was paying by 2010: $765.50 every month. But again, my government came to my rescue. I had just moved back to San Francisco from the Peninsula and became aware of the city's Healthy San Francisco Program (Bola Odulate, 9/19).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Home Health Care In Minnesota Is Solid
A recent article ("Top marks for state in elderly care," Sept. 8) gave mixed reviews to Minnesota's home health industry. It listed some quality measures that seem to indicate that home care in Minnesota is below the national averages, but omitted those that show the state equal to or outpacing national averages (Elizabeth Sowden, 9/19).

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