KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Jeb Bush On His Family’s Addiction Crisis; Don’t Penalize Doctors For Prostate Tests

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

The Chicago Tribune: Jeb Bush Op-Ed: A Father's View Of Drug Addiction
As a father, I have felt the heartbreak of drug abuse. My daughter, Noelle, suffered from addiction, and like many parents facing similar situations, her mom and I struggled to help. I have so many friends and know so many families who have faced this terrible challenge. Addiction crosses all barriers, all lines, all races and all incomes. It creates real hardship and heartbreak in families. And, it places substantial demands on government at every level. (Jeb Bush, 1/6)

The New York Times: Why Doctors Shouldn’t Be Punished For Giving Prostate Tests
Both of us have raised serious questions about prostate cancer screening. Nevertheless, we hope Medicare chooses not to pursue a strategy of penalizing doctors for ordering prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, tests. ... Screening is really good at finding [nonlethal] cancers, and the prostate gland is full of them. Over half of men age 60 and older have small, indolent, nonlethal prostate cancers — many more than those who have harmful ones. That’s why men are much more likely to die with prostate cancer than from it. (H. Gilbert Welch and Peter C. Albersen, 1/7)

Bloomberg: Getting The Pill Without A Doctor: The Revolution Begins
Oregon is making hormonal birth control legally available without a doctor's prescription, and California is set to follow suit. This is great policy, and the rest of the country should follow this example. Before I explain why they should, we should dispense with the policy hopes that easier access to birth control won’t fulfill. (Megan McArdle, 1/6)

The Huffington Post: The Latest Obamacare Repeal Vote Is The Most Pointless Yet
A mere 2,116 days after Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the House voted 240-181 Wednesday on a Senate-passed measure to eliminate the most important parts of Obamacare. ... The next thing that will happen is the repeal bill will speed its way to Obama's desk, where he will promptly veto it and carry on with whatever else he was doing. Self-congratulatory press conferences won't change the fact that Republicans haven't actually repealed anything and are nowhere near proposing their long-awaited "replacement" plan, despite new pledges from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other leaders. (Jeffrey Young, 1/6)

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan’s Tricky Balancing Act Is Working. So Far, Anyway.
The president will of course veto the bill, but as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy puts it, that’s the goal: “With this bill, we will force President Obama to show the American people where he stands.” At last, the American public will finally learn whether Barack Obama supports Obamacare. Your days of keeping the public in the dark about this are over, Mr. President! Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Heritage Action, which exists to enforce conservative purity, has this to say about Congressional Republicans: “Now, we have some reason to believe they will actually deliver on that promise” to repeal the law. Because the first 61 votes left things in doubt. (Paul Waldman, 1/6)

JAMA: JAMA Forum: Choices In Health Care Are Important And Hard To Get Right
There are few certainties in life, but you can count on these: death, taxes, and having to make a lot of choices about your health care. From selecting a health plan to choosing a physician to deciding among various treatments, health care in the United States is all about choice. Studies show that in making these choices, mistakes are common, as is overconfidence. (Austin Frakt, 1/6)

Seattle Times: Raise Medicaid Reimbursement Rate So All Children Can Access Quality Health Care
Imagine a world where kids on Medicaid with symptoms ... could find care at their local pediatrician’s office, instead of landing in the emergency department where an evaluation costs four times as much and the physicians are strangers. Taxpayers would save money by preventing illness, decreasing unnecessary emergency-room visits and reducing hospital admissions. How might we make this vision a reality? The answer lies in providing all children, rich or poor, equal access to medical care by raising Medicaid reimbursement rates. (Andrea Posa and Michael Dudas. 1/6)

Raleigh News & Observer: Sensible Medicaid Reform For North Carolina
The North Carolina General Assembly made a bold decision at the end of its uncommonly long session last fall. Legislators decided to invite managed care organizations as well as provider-led entities to administer our state’s Medicaid program, which provides health care for the approximately 2 million North Carolinians who have no other option to get the care they often desperately need. ... This massive shift in how Medicaid is run requires an enormous amount of planning, analysis and expertise to ensure that patients have access to and receive proper care and that those providing the care are treated fairly. (Docia Hickey, 1/6)

The New England Journal of Medicine: Accountable Health Communities — Addressing Social Needs Through Medicare And Medicaid
For decades, experts have described a profound imbalance between public funding of acute medical care and investments in upstream social and environmental determinants of health. By some estimates, more than 95% of the trillion dollars spent on health care in the United States each year funds direct medical services, even though 60% of preventable deaths are rooted in modifiable behaviors and exposures that occur in the community. ... As health systems are increasingly being held accountable for health outcomes and reducing the cost of care, they need tools and interventions that address patient and community factors contributing to excess utilization. (Dawn E. Alley, Chisara N. Asomugha, Patrick H. Conway and Darshak M. Sanghavi, 1/5)

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