KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Negative Prognosis For The Cadillac Tax; UnitedHealth’s Misplaced Obamacare Blame

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

Bloomberg View: Obamacare's Cadillac Tax Will Not Survive
The Cadillac tax may not be quite dead yet. But at best, it certainly stuns easily. I'm not optimistic. The Cadillac tax, you may remember, was an excise tax on especially expensive employer-sponsored health insurance plans. It was a substitute for two things the administration wanted to do, but didn’t quite dare: get rid of the tax deduction for employer-sponsored insurance, and institute serious cost control measures. Doing either of those things would have made an already-embattled Obamacare bill impossible to pass into law. (Megan McArdle, 2/4)

Los Angeles Times: How A Huge Insurance Company Screwed Up On Obamacare
UnitedHealth Group is the nation's biggest private health insurer, so when its executives started whining last year about how it was losing millions on Affordable Care Act exchange plans and threatened to leave the ACA market as early as 2017, people took notice. Even Obamacare devotees wondered whether United's experience signaled deeper problems with the ACA exchanges generally. Obamacare's critics gorged on United's words and still do: As recently as last week, the Wall Street Journal's editorial writers lamented that "the ObamaCare money-pit sunk [United's] year-over-year profit margin to 3.7% from 4.3%." They blamed, among other things, the ACA's "bureaucratic nuisance." (Michael Hiltzik, 2/4)

Forbes: After The Martin Shkreli Circus, How Can We Fix Drug Pricing?
There was no doubt that hauling Martin Shkreli, the infamous young pharmaceutical entrepreneur, in front of Congress would be dramatic. Of course it was. But did it get us any closer to preventing the next Martin Shkreli from taking an old drug and raising the price 5,000%? At the hearing held this morning by the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) assumed the manner of a preacher, begging Shkreli to turn his life around. “You can go down in history as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives or you can change the system,” Cummings said. (Matthew Herper, 2/4)

The New York Times: Who Hates Obamacare?
Ted Cruz had a teachable moment in Iowa, although he himself will learn nothing from it. A voter told Mr. Cruz the story of his brother-in-law, a barber who had never been able to afford health insurance. He finally got insurance thanks to Obamacare — and discovered that it was too late. He had terminal cancer, and nothing could be done. (Paul Krugman, 2/5)

The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton Will Help Democrats Move Obamacare Forward
In all of our years promoting progressive legislative policies in Congress, no vote was more challenging or consequential than the one to pass the Affordable Care Act. As the former chairs of the two House committees that had primary jurisdiction over health-care reform when the ACA was passed in 2010, we’re proud to have helped realize a long-standing goal of the Democratic Party, moving our nation significantly closer to attaining universal health care. ... We believe that Sanders’s proposal to throw away the ACA to pursue a single-payer system is counterproductive at best and dangerous at worst. (Sander M. Levin and Henry Waxman, 2/4)

The Baltimore Sun: Adding To The Anesthesia Care Team
This is an exciting and challenging time in health care, with an estimated 10,000 baby boomers reaching retirement age every day and entering a health care system that is strained to capacity. That is why it was disappointing to read Jacqueline C. Mitchell's letter opposing legislation to add certified anesthesiologist assistants to hospital and clinic anesthesia care teams. (Setty, 2/4)

JAMA: Oregon’s Medicaid Coordinated Care Organizations
In 2012, the state of Oregon transformed its Medicaid program by establishing 16 “coordinated care organizations,” or CCOs, to provide comprehensive care for its Medicaid population. Coordinated care organizations can be considered a type of accountable care organization (ACO): they are locally governed; are accountable for access, quality, and health spending; and emphasize primary care medical homes. However, CCOs differ from most Medicare and commercial ACOs in their acceptance of full financial risk in the form of a global budget. ... Oregon is now 3 years into this experiment, providing an opportunity to assess the performance midway through this ambitious Medicaid ACO reform. (K. John McConnell, 2/4)

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