KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Obamacare Options; Is It Really Exploding Or Imploding?; Reforming Medicaid

Opinion writers offer their analysis of the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill and across the country over health care reforms and other issues.

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Freedom And Failure Options
Senate Republicans will roll out a revised health-care bill as soon as Thursday, and then begin a final drive to a vote this month. So this is a moment to take stock of some of the larger political dimensions of the ObamaCare debate. Legislative progress has been slower and more difficult than it might have been for a party that ran for seven years on a repeal-and-replace agenda. The benefit is that Senate Republicans are better educated about health-care substance and prepared to make hard governing choices—if they can persuade the remaining Bartlebys. (7/12)

The New York Times: Obamacare Is Not Collapsing, Imploding Or Exploding
The biggest lie that President Trump and other Republican leaders have been repeating about the Affordable Care Act for years is that it is collapsing, imploding or exploding. The truth is that the law is actually working reasonably well, and even the part that has shown the most weakness — the health insurance marketplaces — has been stabilizing. (7/13)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Is Only 'Exploding' In Red States
When he talks about his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump almost always asserts that Obamacare is “exploding.” Republican members of Congress make similar claims, insisting that Obamacare is unsustainable—and that they therefore have no choice but to “repeal and replace” it. There is some basis for this argument. More than 1,300 counties only have one insurer in their exchanges, meaning there is no competition. But there is a nuance that Republicans willfully ignore: This is a problem of their own creation that is largely confined to red states. (Dean Baker, 7/13)

JAMA Forum: JAMA Forum: Reforming Medicaid
We are 2 former Administrators of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, under Presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Although we represent different political parties, we take pride in the accomplishments of these 2 programs, which collectively help millions of US residents get the health care they need. ... we are calling for Congress to separate reforms to the Medicaid program from the most pressing task at hand—stabilizing and improving the nongroup market. Given the divergent views on appropriate Medicaid changes, we recommend initiating a 12-month bipartisan review process that focuses on long-term reforms to improve care and reduce costs. (Andy Slavitt and Gail Wilensky, 7/11)

Topeka Capital Journal: Medicaid Matters For Kansas Children
Over [the past 37 years], I have provided health care for thousands of children. A large number of those children have been Medicaid recipients. I have seen firsthand the importance of Medicaid to our community. I have seen firsthand the lives this program has saved. That is why I am so disheartened by the attempts of Congress to drastically cut funding to this program. (Dr. Dennis Cooley, 7/12)

The Washington Post: There’s No Way To Replace Planned Parenthood
Of all the magical thinking that has gone into Republican proposals to replace Obamacare, none has been more fanciful than the argument accompanying efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. The yarn that has been spun is that other health-care providers would easily absorb the patients left adrift if Planned Parenthood could no longer receive Medicaid reimbursements. In truth, there is no way community health-care centers cited by Republicans as an alternative could fill the gap. In truth, millions of women would lose access to critical health care. (7/12)

PBS Newshour: Why We Are All Insurance Companies
This odd dictum, from the famous American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, that likens us to insurance companies may serve us well as we struggle to find the best path forward in the health insurance debate. ... The usefulness of Peirce’s linkage between a financial concept and our humanity is also representative of how finance can be considerably more humane than usually assumed. (Mihir A. Desai, 7/13)

Bloomberg: States Have Good Reason To Investigate Opioid Makers
Frustrated by the ever-escalating opioid crisis, and short of effective strategies to tackle it, states are moving against drugmakers. More than half have joined a bipartisan investigation into whether the companies are to blame for the epidemic, because they marketed their prescription painkillers too aggressively, downplaying the risk of addiction. Some have already filed lawsuits seeking damages. (7/11)

Boston Globe: Mass. Can Propel Research On Gun Violence
There’s a story behind every firearm used in a crime. For example: How does a gun purchased legally out of state end up at a Lawrence shooting? Together, those stories can help uncover the drivers of gun violence. Do guns used for crimes in certain Boston neighborhoods, for instance, come more often from particular dealers? ... So far, the state has issued one annual report summarizing the data, but no detailed analysis has yet been performed to identify meaningful trends. (7/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Don’t Hold Fast To This Surgical Rule
Imagine you’re heading into surgery for a hip fracture. You might be anxious about how it will go and nervous about starting rehab. You also probably are hungry and thirsty. For decades, patients have been told to fast before surgery. Eight in 10 say their doctors instructed them to, according to a 2017 survey commissioned by my company, Abbott, and conducted by Clarus Research. (Hakim Bouzamondo, 7/12)

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