KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Democrats’ Yearning For Single Payer; Managing Drug Costs; School Lunches

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

Los Angeles Times: Hillary Clinton Reveals Her Plan To Revise--Not Repeal Or Replace--Obamacare
Since presidential candidate Hillary Clinton quietly updated the healthcare policy page on her campaign website over the last few days, most commentators have focused on the especially notable paragraphs stating that she will "continue to support a 'public option' — and work to build on the Affordable Care Act to make it possible." The policy page includes several other elements aimed at improving the Affordable Care Act, including broadening the accessibility of heath coverage to otherwise excluded populations and reducing its cost. (Michael Hiltzik, 2/23)

Modern Healthcare: Even If Bernie Wins, Healthcare Industry Will Brawl Over Single-Payer
In South Carolina's primary this Saturday, Hillary Clinton might strike a powerful blow against Democratic presidential opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, putting his single-payer government health insurance plan into deep freeze. ... But regardless of Sanders' political fate, most Democrats will continue to hold out hope for adoption of a Medicare-for-all system to replace the Affordable Care Act. They argue, with considerable evidence, that the ACA has failed so far to make healthcare available and affordable to all Americans. Polls show many Democrats would like to see a single-payer insurance system. (Harris Meyer, 2/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Who’s The Better Drug Dealer?
‘We don’t bid out pharmaceuticals. We don’t bid out drugs. We’re the largest purchaser of drugs in the world, we don’t bid it out,” Donald J. Trump told Sean Hannity on Monday. The businessman added that so-called negotiations could “save hundreds of billions of dollars a year,” which is a campaign promise that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders also make. That sounds awesome, albeit with the proviso that their claims are 100% false. Here in the real world, prices in the Medicare drug benefit and all other forms of U.S. insurance coverage are negotiated. They are already bid out. The difference from the Trump-Clinton-Sanders price-control model is that pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, and other private insurers do the negotiating instead of the federal government. And on Tuesday CVS Health showed how successful this market-based system can be in practice. (2/23)

Health Affairs Blog: Addressing Generic Drug Unaffordability And Shortages By Globalizing The Market For Old Drugs
Dramatic increases in the price of generic drugs have focused the attention of policymakers and the public on the limitations of marketplace economics as a means of managing drug costs and access. In recent years, prices have increased sharply for established products that have been in use for 50 years or more. These include colchicine for gout (50-fold), digoxin for heart failure (6-fold), and isoproterenol for heart rhythm abnormalities (5-fold). In one prominent example, Turing Pharmaceutical raised the cost of pyrimethamine (Daraprim), a 62-year old treatment for toxoplasmosis by over 5,000 percent, from $13 to $750 per tablet. ... This need not be the case, and there are remedies to address these problems. (Alfred Engelberg, Jerry Avorn and Aaron Kesselheim, 2/23)

Outside Magazine: Why Is It So Hard to Serve Healthy Food in Schools?
[T]he rule in our house is only one school lunch per week. It’s not a question of cost—at $2.50 a pop, the lunches at our public elementary school are affordable. It’s matter of nutrition. ... The typical weekly school offerings, however, read like artery-clogging fast food items: chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, pork riblets, beef nachos supreme, cheese-stuffed breadsticks, and (our daughters’ weekly cause for celebration, a New Mexican specialty) Frito Pie. Every time I look at the menu, I have to wonder: If food is fuel for our bodies and brains, and kids are in school to exercise both, why aren't school lunches healthier? (Katie Arnold, 2/23)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Truth About Anorexia
There’s nothing glamorous or fun about anorexia nervosa; it’s a mental illness, not a lifestyle choice. In fact, anorexia is the deadliest psychiatric disorder and the cause of significant emotional distress and health impairment. In a given year, females with anorexia are up to 12 times more likely to die than healthy females of the same age. (Stacey C. Cahn, 2/24)

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