KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Standardizing Health Care Price Tags; CBO Estimates On The GOP Health Plan Deserve An Ear

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

The Washington Post: The Health-Care Reform We’re Ignoring? Standardizing The Price Of Care.
As lawmakers fight over what conditions insurance companies should be required to cover, other areas of health-care reform remain painfully neglected. One major example: How much should insurance companies pay for what they cover? Consumers rarely care about health-care prices beyond what they personally pay for deductibles, co-payments and prescription drugs. But insurance payments are crucial to understanding why health-care prices have gotten so out of control in the United States. (Robert Gebelhoff, 6/5)

RealClear Health: The GOP Should Listen To The CBO
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has been criticized many times by both parties since it began issuing budget projections and cost estimates for legislation in the 1970’s. So it was not surprising to hear the Trump administration and many Republicans in Congress complain when the agency released an unflattering assessment of the House-passed American Health Care Act. What was different this time, though, was the attempt by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to discredit CBO entirely. He said in an interview that the agency’s time “has probably come and gone,” and implied that policymaking in Congress would be better if the agency ceased to exist. This is absurd. (James C. Capretta, 6/6)

Stat: Why Is This Modest Medicaid Reform So Controversial?
The AHCA’s proposed caps would limit the amount by which each state is able to automatically claim increases in funding per Medicaid enrollee from federal taxpayers in any particular year. Taken in context, these proposed caps are extraordinarily modest. Far from threatening “to end Medicaid as we know it,” the per-capita caps would do little to alter the program’s existing commitments, and serve mainly to increase the scrutiny applied to expansions of benefits that states may make in the future. (Chris Pope, 6/5)

Los Angeles Times: Desperate To Keep Its Obamacare Exchange Open, New York Plays Hardball With Health Insurers
The state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, laid down the law Monday to health insurers thinking about abandoning the state’s Affordable Care Act exchanges. Any that take that step, he announced, will be banned from participating in other state health programs, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan. Those all are programs that commercial insurers manage, generally at a profit. In fact, insurers clamor to service those programs even as they grouse about losses on the Obamacare exchanges. ... One of the enduring mysteries surrounding the withdrawal of insurers from individual exchanges across the nation is why more states haven’t taken similar steps. (Michael Hiltzik, 6/5)

The Atlantic: America's Health-Inequality Problem
The U.S. has one of the largest income-based health disparities in the world, according to a new paper out in the journal Health Affairs. Among the poorest third of Americans studied, 38.2 percent report being in “fair or poor” health, compared with 12.3 percent of the richest third. Only Chile and Portugal have a larger income-based gap in the health status of their citizens. (Olga Khazan, 6/5)

The Columbus Dispatch: Senate, GOP Can Rescue Health Care
Put Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman in a room, and chances are the two senators would find a way to repair and keep the Affordable Care Act. The Cleveland Democrat and Cincinnati Republican offer widely different assessments of the act, the former highly favorable, the latter sharply critical. Yet they share an understanding of what it takes to govern effectively and recognition of the needs of those who cannot afford health insurance. (6/6)

The Charlotte Observer: Will Trump Halt Progress On Abortions?
The Trump administration is poised to undo what it believed it accomplished on behalf of conservative Christians when President Donald Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That appointment kept the court from taking a leftward turn and puts the political holy grail for conservative Christians – overturning or Roe v. Wade – within reach if another seat is vacated before the 2020 presidential election. But the administration’s assault on objective reality and its embrace of alternative facts is about to threaten decades worth of progress on the abortion front. A proposed revision of the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act would make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of women to get protection. (6/5)

The New York Times: Teaching Hospitals Cost More, But Could Save Your Life
Perhaps not evident to many patients, there are two kinds of hospitals — teaching and nonteaching — and a raging debate about which is better. Teaching hospitals, affiliated with medical schools, are the training grounds for the next generation of physicians. They cost more. The debate is over whether their increased cost is accompanied by better patient outcomes. Teaching hospitals cost taxpayers more in part because Medicare pays them more, to compensate them for their educational mission. They also tend to command higher prices in the commercial market because the medical-school affiliation enhances their brand. Their higher prices could even cost patients more, if they are paying out of pocket. (Austin Frakt, 6/5)

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