KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Hidden Prices; Opioids’ Impact On Economic Growth; The New War On Medicaid

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

Stat: Hidden Prices Make It Hard For Consumers To Track Their Health Care Costs
My father had no idea how much my mother’s treatment would cost, how much of it would be covered by insurance, if there were alternative treatments that would be covered, or how we would pay for treatments that weren’t covered. Forget about negotiating — how could he negotiate about something whose price he didn’t know? No one explained the options for payment. My mother and father had zero control over, or even understanding of, the costs involved. For months following my mother’s diagnosis, they randomly received bills, including one for $20,000 attributed to the initial hospital stay that didn’t include the cost of three specialist visits and the emergency procedure. (Anahita Nakhjiri, 9/5)

Modern Healthcare: Congress Should Reinstate DACA To Promote A Compassionate And Just Society
Over the weekend, I joined more than a dozen Catholic healthcare system leaders in urging President Donald Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Now that the decision has been made to phase out the program, it is imperative that Congress develop and pass a permanent solution that extends the protections for these Dreamers. As healthcare leaders, we are called to promote and advance the dignity of every human person. Ascension's mission specifically calls us to be "advocates for a compassionate and just society through our actions and our words." The rescission of DACA fails to model a generosity of spirit, especially for those most in need. (Anthony R. Tersigni, 9/5)

Lexington (Ky.) Herald: Jobs Are Here; Ky.’s Workforce Needs Addiction Treatment
Among the many health challenges facing America, none has hit Kentucky harder than opioid addiction. The impact of the opioid crisis on Kentuckians’ health is staggering, with more than 1,400 overdose deaths reported last year. Less obvious, however, is the toll it has taken on the state’s economic growth and development. In Kentucky, the opioid crisis has contributed to a workforce participation challenge that undermines the competitiveness of existing businesses while creating barriers to new investments. (Dave Adkisson, 9/1)

Moyers and Company/Talk Poverty: The War On Medicaid Is Moving To The States
Recent congressional proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would have reduced Medicaid enrollment by up to 15 million people, and, despite being defeated, congressional Republicans aren’t done yet: It’s likely they will attempt to gut the program during the upcoming budget debate. Meanwhile, more than half a dozen conservative governors are trying to take a hatchet to the program — at the open invitation of the Trump administration — through a vehicle known as a “Medicaid waiver.” (Greg Kaufmann, 9/5)

Des Moines Register: Iowa Once Sought To Expand Medicaid. Now It Wants To Cut It
States have repeatedly used [Medicaid] waivers to provide needed care to residents in a way that makes sense. But times have changed. Attitudes toward poor people and Medicaid have changed. Iowa has changed. This state now seeks federal permission to deny care to Iowans and avoid paying health providers. House File 653 ... orders the Iowa Department of Human Services to seek a waiver amendment to circumvent the federal government’s “retroactive eligibility provision.” That provision allows for Medicaid payments for health-care services provided in the three months leading up to a person being formally declared eligible for the health insurance. (9/5)

The Washington Post: My Fellow Conservatives Should Protect Medical Marijuana From The Government
I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue. Our party still bears a blemish for wielding the “states’ rights” cudgel against civil rights. If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt. (Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), 9/5)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Don't Let Federal Cuts Eviscerate Critical Efforts To Prevent Teen Pregnancies
Recent cuts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program will harm local and national efforts to decrease teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates. Locally, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, one of 81 teen pregnancy prevention projects across the United States, and the only one in Ohio, recently learned that its current program period was being cut short; two years ahead of schedule. (Terry Allan and Gloria Agosto Davis, 9/6)

Sacramento Bee: Legislature Should Kill These Bills
In a Capitol controlled by Democrats, many of whom owe their election to union support, the pressure is intense to side with their labor allies. But they should ask themselves whether it’s the proper place for the Legislature to, say, determine that the United Food and Commercial Workers should dictate health policy. That’s essentially what would happen if they approve Assembly Bill 1461 by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond. The bill is aimed at Blue Apron, which packages meal kits for people who like to cook but don’t have time to shop. The California Department of Public Health regulates the company as a food processor rather than a food handler. Thurmond’s bill would impose additional regulations. (9/5)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: UK HealthCare Increasing Transplant Commitment To Louisville
A recent Courier-Journal article raised concerns among many in the community about the future of Jewish Hospital’s transplant program – a program of historic importance with a rich legacy of excellence. The concerns are understandable. What happens, after all, to patients who are waiting for a life-saving transplant when an important program that so many have looked to is shuttered? ... However, it is important to note that for decades, UK HealthCare has provided transplantation services to citizens in Jefferson and surrounding counties. (Roberto Gedaly, 9/4)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Buildings Don’t Perform Organ Transplants – Surgeons Do
The availability of organ transplantion in Louisville has been under scrutiny recently, with concerns raised over whether that availability is threatened because Jewish Hospital is for sale. As Chair of the Department of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Transplantation at the University of Louisville, we would like to clarify a few things. Buildings don’t perform transplants – surgeons do. All of the physicians who support the transplant program are U of L School of Medicine faculty members, and the transplant program remains as strong as ever. (Kelly McMasters and Christopher Jones, 9/4)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.