KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Future Health Policy Debates; Expanding Parental Leave Benefits

A selection of opinions on public health issues from around the country.

JAMA Forum: Our Next Health Care Debate
It’s a perfect time to reflect on the national health policy debate over coverage. Not the one we’re having now, but the one we are destined to have sometime in the 2020s. Going back at least as far as Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s, once a decade or so, we contemplate major national coverage reforms to the US health care system. While enthusiasm builds in some circles that the next debate has the potential to bring us full universal coverage, the lessons of our recent efforts tell us we often come away with far less than we should. (Andy Slavitt, 8/30)

Axios: How To Keep ACA Stabilization Narrow
When Congress returns next week, the health debate will shift from trying to pass sweeping legislation to stabilizing the non-group insurance market. This will be a different debate about a thorny but smaller problem. The weaknesses that need to be fixed are fairly specific, and they don't affect the majority of Americans. (Drew Altman, 8/31)

Los Angeles Times: Bringing Parental Leave Benefits To More Workers
California state law guarantees that new parents, biological or adoptive, can take 12 weeks off from work to care for their babies without worrying about losing their health care or having a job when they are ready to come back. But here’s the catch: These benefits are available only to parents who happen to work for a company that employs 50 or more people within a 75-mile radius. That’s about 41% of the state’s workforce. (8/31)

The Washington Post: Harvey’s Burdens Will Fall Hardest On The Poor
The catastrophe on the Texas coast makes little or no distinction between rich and poor — for now, anyway. ... But even this Noah-like deluge will stop eventually, and when the rain ends and the water drains from rivers and bayous, the differences will become stark. For those who get their ice in summer, the aftermath of Harvey will be various amounts of hassle and grief. ... But these challenges and disappointments will be eased by the emollient blessing of money: the insurance check, the savings account, the home-equity loan, the paid vacation days to devote to cleaning up. ... People who get their ice in winter are facing a total loss. Their neighborhoods are likely to be on low ground, because elevation goes for a premium in a land of bayous. After days or weeks under water, tens of thousands of their homes and cars will be not just damaged but destroyed. And the destruction of possessions will be followed by the loss of communities. (David Von Drehle, 8/30)

Bloomberg: UnitedHealth Shows Its Dealmaking Smarts Again 
When it comes to M&A, UnitedHealth Group Inc. is one of the health-insurance industry's most prolific dealmakers. Its latest purchase is a reminder that it's among the smartest in that category as well. The company agreed on Tuesday to acquire Advisory Board Co.'s health-care analytics, research and consulting operations for about $1.3 billion including debt. The merger is part of a two-way deal that will also see private equity firm Vista Equity Partners purchase Advisory Board's education arm for $1.55 billion. It's another win for Elliott Management Corp., which disclosed a stake in Advisory Board earlier this year and sought talks on strategic options. (Brooke Sutherland, 8/29)

The Washington Post: My Son Has Autism. Discrimination Almost Cost Him His Life.
Five years ago, when my son Lief was 9, he fell ill with a virus. The virus attacked his heart and flooded it with fluid. The pressure from the growing pool inside his heart tore the muscle fibers. In a matter of weeks, he was transformed from a healthy kid to a critically ill hospital patient with only one hope for survival: a heart transplant. ... Because of our son’s disability, the doctors at our local children’s hospital told us that no facility would perform the transplant, and we should prepare for him to die. (Sunshine Bodey, 8/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Inch Right On Abortion
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in May that the Democratic Party should not require its candidates to support the right to an abortion. “This is not a rubber-stamp party,” she told the Washington Post. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed. In July Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Texas, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Hill he would be open to funding pro-life candidates in 2018 House races. California Gov. Jerry Brown said on “Meet the Press” that candidates’ positions on abortion “should not be the basis for their exclusion.” (Fred Barnes, 8/30)

Arizona Republic: Kelli Ward To Keynote Anti-Medicare Group Meeting
I’m wondering if Arizona Republicans who favor Kelli Ward over Sen. Jeff Flake realize how closely she is tied to a wacky, conspiracy-prone physicians group that believes Medicare and Medicaid should not exist and are, in fact, “evil.” The organization is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. (EJ Montini, 8/30)

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