KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Strengthening Medicaid; ERISA And The Goals Of Transparency

A selection of opinions from around the country.

The Hill: Working Together To Strengthen Medicaid For The Most Vulnerable
Last year, the Medicaid program celebrated its golden anniversary. A lot has changed over the last 50 years. Originally created in 1965 as a joint federal-state program to provide health care coverage for low-income, vulnerable Americans, it is now the world’s largest health insurance program. Today Medicaid is an important lifeline for so many in Michigan and across the country. It is estimated the program will expand to cover 83 million people this year – that’s one in four Americans. Given its rapidly growing size, it is imperative the program is working as it is intended – providing care for folks who need it most. (Rep. Fred Upton, 3/11)

Health Affairs Blog: Out Of Many, One: ERISA Preemption, State All-Payer Claims Database Laws, And The Goals Of Transparency
On March 1, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. that a Vermont law requiring comprehensive claims information to be conveyed to the state’s all-payer claims database was preempted by the federal ERISA statute and could not be applied to self-insured employers or their third-party administrators. Almost immediately, commentators on both sides of the political aisle objected to the ruling, which makes it seem as if nobody won the case. To my way of looking at it, a better conclusion is that nobody lost. (William Sage, 3/10)

JAMA: Jump-Starting Chronic Care Management Services
A little over a year ago, on January 1, 2015, Medicare implemented a chronic care management (CCM) billing code. This code, which pays an average of $42, can be billed once a month when a practitioner provides at least 20 minutes of CCM services to a patient with 2 or more chronic conditions. The CCM services include the monitoring of a beneficiary’s care plan, the provision of access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to clinical staff who can retrieve information from the beneficiary’s electronic health record even when the office is closed; management of a beneficiary’s care transitions; and coordination with other clinicians, hospitals, and others who provide clinical services. (Andrew B. Bindman and Donald F. Cox, 3/10)

Forbes: John Kasich Gets All The Credit For Ohio's Failed Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
Ohio Governor John Kasich has spent no small amount of time on the presidential campaign trail discussing his decision to expand Medicaid to 650,000 able-bodied adults under Obamacare. But policymakers in non-expansion states should take a closer look at what’s actually unfolded in Ohio before considering going down the same path. (Akash Chougule, 3/8)

The Tennessean: Disco-Era Health Care Law Is Hurting Tennesseans
Even if we feel occasionally nostalgic for the 1970s, most people are content to leave their leisure suits and bell-bottoms in the attic until Halloween. Society learns from its fashion faux pas, but government rarely corrects its regulatory blunders. (Bauman and Manley, 3/10)

The Portland Press Herald: Telemedicine Abortion Will Help Lift Barrier To Basic Care
Maine Family Planning recently announced a decision that will put Maine ahead of the curve in terms of women’s health care. The nonprofit is allowing women to access medication to end early pregnancies without requiring an in-office consultation with a doctor, making Maine just the third state in the U.S. where telemedicine is being used to expand abortion access. Maine women stand to gain from the greater availablity of a safer, more affordable form of abortion, and Maine Family Planning should be praised for taking this step forward on its patients’ behalf. (Leggett-Brown, 3/10)

The New England Journal of Medicine: N-Of-1 Policymaking — Tragedy, Trade-Offs, And The Demise Of Morcellation
In the case of morcellation, availability exaggerated the risk of LMS [leiomyosarcoma, a rare, aggressive cancer]. Media coverage featured the faces of women dying of LMS, ravaged by chemotherapy, flanked in photos by their husbands and young children. Meanwhile, the benefits of morcellation are largely invisible and thus “unavailable.” Who sees the women who undergo a minimally invasive procedure, recover quickly, and avoid losing income? ... our capacity to speak science to emotion seems to be collapsing. As our patient-safety focus intensifies and physicians’ behavior is publicly dissected, a story that goes viral has outsized power. Questioning narratives that portray the victimization of the innocent seems monstrous. ... To recognize that some women may benefit from morcellation is not to dismiss the pain of those it has harmed. But society suffers when there’s no rational debate. (Lisa Rosenbaum, 3/10)

The Des Moines Register: Senator's Offensive Bid To Make Abortion A Hate Crime
In case you missed it, an Iowa state senator argued on the Senate floor this week for a measure to make abortion a “hate crime” under the Iowa statute. A hate crime against a group that doesn't even exist in society: The unborn. Adel’s Republican Sen. Jake Chapman raised the proposal as an amendment to Senate File 2284. That bill being considered would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of protected classes covered by the state’s hate crimes law. The law brings enhanced penalties for crimes committed out of hatred on the basis of a victim's immutable characteristics, such as race, religion and sexual orientation. It applies to groups recognized for protection under Iowa’s civil rights law. (Rekha Basu, 3/10)

USA Today: GMO Labels Feed Fears: Our View
Forcing companies to label genetically modified foods sounds simple enough. Don’t consumers have a right to know what they're eating? Like a lot of seemingly straightforward ideas these days, though, this one is anything but. Mandatory labeling — set to go into effect in Vermont on July 1 unless Congress overrides state laws — has risks and consequences its backers rarely acknowledge. On balance it’s a bad idea. A key reason is that it validates the notion that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous, which is simply not true. (3/10)

USA Today: Vermont Governor: Tell Us What’s In Our Food
People have the right to know what is in their food. It’s not a radical idea. We already require food companies to label nutritional values such as calories or sugar content and to include an ingredient list. When it comes to labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, more than 64 countries already require it. (Peter Shumlin, 3/10

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