KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: For Sanders And Clinton, More Sparring Over Health Care; Autism As A Campaign Issue

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

U.S. News & World Report: The Problem With Clinton's Health Care Promises
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders revived their oft-contentious sparring over health care Thursday night in Milwaukee during the latest Democratic presidential debate, this one on PBS. It was the first debate since Sanders' big win in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and the last before the candidates compete again in the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20. For Sanders, the debate was an opportunity to keep the Bernie train rolling after an impressive victory; for Clinton, it was a chance to step in and re-take control of a race in which she is still the front-runner, but that is looking more complicated than it once did. (Pat Garofalo, 2/12)

The Boston Globe: Can America Afford Sanders’ Big Plans?
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has some big plans for America, including ending the reign of money in politics and reshaping the US economy. But sweeping changes like single-payer health care, free college tuition, and guaranteed parental leave don’t come cheap. They require an abundance of new tax dollars, not just from the rich but from virtually all classes of society. (Evan Horowitz, 2/11)

The Washington Post: Five Tips For Candidates Who Want To Talk About Autism — Responsibly
So far this election cycle, Hillary Clinton has been the only candidate to offer a detailed position on autism. Odds are she won’t be the last, considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are more than 3 million Americans with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and most of those people have families. That’s a constituency worth wooing. But let the wooers be warned: Autism has its own politics, and they are fraught. (John Donvan and Caren Zucker, 2/11)

The Washington Post: NIIT-Picking To Sustain Medicare
There are three ways to increase the sustainability of Medicare, the deservedly much-loved program that provides affordable, quality health coverage to almost 50 million mostly older Americans: cut spending, raise more revenues and/or slow the growth of health costs. (Another way would be to deport the aging boomers who are increasingly coming onto the Medicare rolls, but while I should technically recuse myself from that solution, let’s just not go there.) (Jared Bernstein, 2/11)

The Des Moines Register: BMI Not Reliable Health Measure
“Wellness programs” offered by employers are all the rage. Intended to improve workers’ health and hold down insurance costs, they are broadly defined. As one shrewd researcher told a Register editorial writer: “If you’ve seen one wellness program, you’ve seen one wellness program.” And workers are frequently not interested in participating. (2/11)

The New England Journal of Medicine: Standardizing Patient Outcomes Measurement
If we’re to unlock the potential of value-based health care for driving improvement, outcomes measurement must accelerate. That means committing to measuring a minimum sufficient set of outcomes for every major medical condition — with well-defined methods for their collection and risk adjustment — and then standardizing those sets nationally and globally. (Michael E. Porter, Stefan Larsson and Thomas H. Lee, 2/11)

The Washington Post: It’s Time To Break The Teeth-Whitening Monopoly
It is frequently said that, unfortunately, Americans disdain government. It is more usefully said that, unfortunately, they have abundant reasons for doing so. In coming days, the Supreme Court, by deciding to hear a case from Connecticut, can begin limiting a contemptible government abuse that the court’s passive deference to legislatures has encouraged. The case concerns a minor economic activity, teeth whitening, but a major principle: Can a state limit Americans’ opportunities by restricting access to particular professions for no reason other than the enrichment of people entrenched in those professions? (George F. Will, 2/10)

The New England Journal of Medicine: A World Free Of Polio — The Final Steps
As of January 2016, endemic transmission of polio caused by wild polioviruses (WPVs) had been interrupted in all countries except Pakistan and Afghanistan ... Getting to this point has not been easy. Sustaining our wins and traversing the last mile of the eradication journey calls for escalation of global immunization activities on an unprecedented scale. (Manish Patel and Walter Orenstein, 2/11)

Miami Herald: A Do-Over On Medical Marijuana For Florida
It’s déjà vu all over again for Florida’s controversial medical marijuana amendment, which is back on the ballot in November, two years after it failed, barely, to get the necessary votes. Back then, the measure received 58 percent approval — just short of the 60 percent required for an amendment to pass. But this time, there’s a different political scenario. A presidential election likely will double voter turnout — and the chances for the amendment’s passage. (2/11)

The Wichita Eagle: Local Entrepreneur Reshaping Health Care
Though the debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act almost certainly will rage on whatever the outcome of the 2016 elections, everyone seems to agree that the future growth rate in health care costs, which historically has outpaced general inflation, must somehow be reined in. (Robert Litan, 2/11)

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