KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: GOP Health Plan — A Record In Unpopularity; Trump Rule Protects Nursing Homes, Not Patients

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

The New York Times: G.O.P. Senators Might Not Realize It, But Not One State Supports The A.H.C.A.
It’s no secret that the American Health Care Act is unpopular. In recent national polls, only about 29 percent of Americans support the bill. It is the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades — even more unloved than TARP (“the bailout”), and much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Will Republican senators vote yes on a bill this unpopular? To hang on to their jobs, senators have to keep only voters in their own states happy, not the whole nation. (Christopher Warshaw and David Broockman, 6/14)

Los Angeles Times: The Senate Is About To Ram Through Trumpcare. This Is Not A Drill; It's An Emergency
Like a thief in the night, Senate Republicans are trying to take healthcare from tens of millions of people to pay for a massive tax cut. What we don’t know is exactly how many people will lose coverage or how much rich people will save in taxes — because Republicans are refusing to make their version of the American Health Care Act public. If you had any doubts that the bill would be a substantive and political disaster, this secretiveness should remove them. (Scott Lemieux, 6/13)

Lexington Herald Leader: Loss Of Health Care On McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are bragging because health insurers are abandoning some individual markets, leaving consumers with no choices. It’s as if the Republicans have forgotten they’re in charge now. Aside from dodging responsibility for the disruptions in people’s lives, Republicans also are trying to dodge this reality: Their actions and inaction sabotaged the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. They caused the uncertainty cited by insurers such as Anthem Inc. when it announced that it would leave the Ohio market next year. (6/14)

The Washington Post: How The Republican Coward Caucus Is About To Sell Out Its Own Constituents — In Secret
The fate of the American health-care system now rests with a group of allegedly “moderate” senators, who are getting ready to approve a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a repeal bill so monumental in its cruelty that they feel they have no choice but to draft it in secret, not let the public know what it does, hold not a single hearing or committee markup, slip it in a brown paper package to the Congressional Budget Office, then push it through to a vote before the July 4th recess before the inevitable backlash gets too loud. (Paul Waldman, 6/13)

The Washington Post: The GOP Is Working Stealthily To Shred Health And Financial Protections For Ordinary Americans
The bars opened early in Washington and elsewhere last Thursday, as more than 19 million Americans tuned in when the networks and cable news channels carried live former FBI director James B. Comey’s riveting testimony in the intensifying scandals around President Trump. The media covers Trump’s derelictions 24/7. Not surprisingly, Democrats tend to talk about what grabs the most airtime. (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Administration Uses Bogus Numbers On Obamacare — Again
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was quick off the mark Monday after his agency released fresh data on “effectuated enrollments” — that is, Americans who not only chose an Affordable Care Act individual health plan for 2017, but secured coverage by paying their first monthly installment. The data, according to HHS, “show a decline in the number of Americans who have actually purchased coverage on the exchanges, with cost being a primary concern.” Price used that conclusion to assert in a statement, “Not surprisingly, as costs continue to go up, fewer Americans can afford to pay more and get less for healthcare.” (Michael Hiltzik, 6/13)

Los Angeles Times: Government Actuaries Say You'll Pay A Whole Lot More For Health Insurance If The GOP Repeals Obamacare
Here are some findings about Obamacare repeal that congressional Republicans and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will have trouble explaining away: Under the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal bill, individuals will be paying an average 27% more for their insurance by 2026 than under current law. That’s $162 per month more, on average. (Michael Hiltzik, 6/13)

RealClear Health: California And Texas Agree On Health Care
Progressives and conservatives actually agree on health care: A crazy idea? Perhaps not. California, the West Coast bastion of progressivism, is pushing to create a single-payer health care system for its 39 million citizens. State Sens. Toni Atkins and Ricardo Lara have introduced Senate Bill 562 called the Healthy California Act, or HCA, which seeks to “establish a comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage program and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state.” After the California Senate passed the HCA on June 1, the state Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown are the only barriers from realizing this progressive dream. (Deane Waldman and Vance Ginn, 6/14)

The Des Moines Register: Trump Protects Nursing Homes At Seniors' Expense
If the quality of nursing homes is determined by fines for violations, Iowa has some of the worst facilities in the country. Only five other states imposed more financial penalties on homes last year, according to federal data. As this editorial board recently reported, when industry representatives complained to the Department of Inspections and Appeals, state officials blamed the federal government for “insisting” on fines, even over recommendations of the agency. (6/13)

The Wall Street Journal: A Regulation That Protects Big-Hospital Monopolies
In Cartersville, Ga., two highly regarded obstetricians, Hugo Ribot and Malcolm Barfield, hoped to add a second room to their one-room surgery center. But the plan hit a snag. They needed to obtain a “certificate of need” from Georgia’s Department of Community Health. Three large hospitals in the area—which provide similar services at far higher cost—blocked their application. Dr. Ribot and Dr. Barfield are now suing the state for restraint of trade. (Hal Scherz, 6/13)

The Washington Post: Is Trump Making America Mentally Ill?
In one of Walker Percy’s brilliant novels, “The Second Coming,” protagonist Will Barrett keeps falling down for no apparent reason. He also suffers trances during which he contemplates existential questions. Barrett comes to mind in the era of Donald Trump. (Kathleen Parker, 6/13)

RealClear Health: Analysis: Peering Into The Nation’s Opioid Crisis Through A Regional Lens
The opioid crisis is national in scale, but it varies greatly at the regional level. Drawing on our national database of 23 billion private health care claims, we recently explored the regional variation in the opioid crisis during the ten-year period 2007-2016 in a new white paper. Preceded by reports on national trends in opioid-related diagnoses and on the epidemic’s impact on the health care system, this report is important because it suggests the need for policy flexibility in dealing with the varying regional manifestations of the opioid crisis. (Robin Gelburd, 6/14)

WBUR: Making The Poor Work: A Solution In Search Of A Problem
Some cities are experimenting with paying panhandlers to clean public spaces. But for national policy, a less bureaucratic strategy for fighting poverty — giving the poor direct cash, enough for a living income — notched stunning gains in Brazil. Testing that approach with America’s needy would be much better use of our national time and treasure. (Rich Barlow, 6/14)

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