KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Contraception Politics; Better Food Labels; Opposing Stands On Ultrasounds And Abortion

The New York Times: Economix Blog: Pregnancy Prevention And The Taxpayer
Between the flap at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the squall about the Obama administration's directive that health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control, contraception is shaping up as one of the year's biggest political land mines (Motoko Rich, 3/5).

Politico: Why Contraception Rule Is No Gimmick
Insurance coverage of contraceptives is common in the United States. Twenty-eight states have laws that require health insurers cover contraceptives. … Nonetheless, some religious groups, notably the Catholic Church, teach that contraception is wrong. These religious groups employ thousands of Americans and provide health benefits. So the federal agencies implementing the Affordable Care Act tried to reach an accommodation between the public health objective of increasing access to preventive services and the goal of protecting religious freedom (Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, 3/6).

USA Today: Editorial: Ultrasound In Abortion Should Be A Woman's Choice
Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, abortion foes have waged a war of attrition. Unable to overturn the ruling outright, they've succeeded in making abortions harder to obtain in many states — and almost impossible in a few. ... But the more successful they've been at limiting abortion rights, the more they've intruded into private medical decisions that ought to be made by women and their doctors (3/5). 

USA Today: Opposing View: Ultrasound Is A Window To The Womb
In the ultrasound debate, the true paternalists are those who would "shelter" women from seeing their unborn child's beating heart at 22 days, or viewing her kicking and moving inside the womb at seven weeks. ... Clearly, real-time ultrasound images of the unborn child are truthful, not misleading, and can lead to a more informed decision (Mary Spaulding Balch, 3/5). 

Roll Call: Public Needs Voice In Health Care Decisions
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute holds great potential in advancing comparative effectiveness research that supports doctors and patients and improves the quality of care. ... Unfortunately, the PCORI’s process does not give patients and people with disabilities a real opportunity for meaningful input in this decision. That’s because the only priorities that it is seeking comment on are broad categories of health care that restate the institute’s research mandate from statute (Tony Coelho, 3/6).

The New York Times: Opinionator: Healthy Labels, Not Stealthy Labels
Research suggests that consumers spend only about one second looking at nutrition information when making myriad choices. A parent dashing through the grocery store aisles with kids in tow has to decide, in that one second, which is better: Triscuit vs. Saltines vs. Wheat Thins vs. Ritz? This is why Americans need a simple, standardized and truthful label on the front of all packaged foods (Ezekial J. Emanuel, 3/5).

Los Angeles Times: Wrong Rx For The FDA
The congressional legislators who oversee the Food and Drug Administration and control the nation's coffers have shown again that they neither understand drug development nor the regulatory problems that plague it (Henry Miller, 3/5).

MinnPost: Romney's RomneyCare Problem Just Won't Quit
Poor Mitt Romney, just can’t live down his greatest accomplishment. ... And when he has the nomination locked up and can start drifting back to the center perhaps he can drop his long, tortured and ultimately hopeless effort to disentangle himself  from his paternity of the Massachusetts universal health care bill that he signed into law and that his former rival (now supporter) Tim Pawlenty once dubbed ObamneyCare (Eric Black, 3/5).

The Detroit Free Press: Mackinac Center: Health Spending Caps A Plus For School Districts
The Michigan Legislature enacted a slew of helpful public school reforms last year, including … (one that has) an immediate, positive effect on school districts: health insurance cost containment. ... Michigan schools spend more than $2 billion annually on health care for school employees -- about $1,300 per student. This lack of restraint stems in part from the fact that the school health insurance market is largely dominated by one firm -- the Michigan Education Special Services Association, a third-party administrator founded by and closely connected with the state's largest teachers union (Michael Van Beek, 3/4). 

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