KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Dubious Ad On Romney’s Role In Cancer Death; British Health Plan Has Problems Of Its Own

The New York Times' Campaign Stops: Fact-Checking Is Not Enough
He sits at a kitchen table, nursing a cup of coffee, talking about what happened after Bain Capital closed down his steel plant in 2001. He lost his job; his family lost its health insurance. His wife felt lousy but didn’t go to the doctor, to spare the family worry and expense. When she finally ended up in the hospital, the diagnosis was cancer. She had 22 days to live. ... That advertisement, paid for by the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, was released on Tuesday morning. By midday the political press had subjected it to a fact-check and reported that not only was Romney no longer in charge of day-to-day decisions at Bain by the time the steel plant closed down, but the man's wife – his name is Joe Soptic, hers was Ranae – actually died in 2006, nearly five years after the original layoff (Ross Douthat, 8/7).

Los Angeles Times: Britain's Cherished, Lousy National Health System
In April, the British Medical Journal published an article about two studies conducted by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund. The studies compared the healthcare systems of 14 advanced countries, and on the 20 measures of comparison, Britain's centralized National Health Service performed well in 13, indifferently in two and badly in five. On several measures, the NHS came out the worst of all the systems examined (Theodore Dalrymple, 8/7).

The Seattle Times: If There Were A Health Olympics, The U.S. Wouldn't Even Medal
Close to half of our health is programmed in the first thousand days after conception. Stresses of the inequalities in modern life experienced by the mother, fetus and baby result in biologic adaptations that bring about many of our chronic diseases of aging…. Having the political will to support early life for all would produce the good health that we now lack, saving immense costs as we age in the form of fewer medical interventions (Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, 8/7).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Phony Deficit Reduction
Defenders of President Obama's health law are flaunting a Congressional Budget Office claim that overturning the law would worsen the federal deficit. Repeal, said a CBO report late last month, would cancel $890 billion in new entitlement spending but eliminate revenues of even greater magnitude. Don't be bamboozled. Even if it were true that ObamaCare raises more money than it spends, that would hardly be reason to keep it (Betsy McCaughey, 8/7).

The Wall Street Journal: The FDA Wants To Regulate Your Cells
A recent decision by a federal trial court gave the Food and Drug Administration the latitude that the agency has long sought to regulate our cells as drugs. It could put the brakes on one of the most promising areas of medical research (Scott Gottlieb and Coleen Klasmeier, 8/7).

Politico: Baby Boomers' Economic Anxiety
These voters (age 50 to 64) have been whipsawed by disappearing pensions, rising health care costs and the financial and emotional stress of caring for elderly family members. ... The Great Recession has put many of these boomers in a downward spiral. When workers ages 55-plus lose their jobs, it typically takes a long time — more than a year on average — to find work again. Without a job or benefits, many are forced to raid their retirement savings or shortchange their health care, which increases the strain and lowers their retirement readiness in the long term. ... Americans ages 50 and older don't want a catalogue of platitudes. They want a dialogue on policies that will affect their health and retirement security (Nancy Leamond, 8/8).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Keep Health Info Coming
Buried in the road to cost reduction for the federal government, in Section 227 of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2013, is a plan to defund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). If this bomb goes off undetected, the nation will lose its greatest source for funding research on health-care quality, effectiveness, and patient safety (Jeffrey C. Lerner, 8/8).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Future Physicians Must Think About The Business Of Medicine
"There's definitely much greater awareness in training now on the costs of tests you order," (David Axelrod, the internist who teaches the course that delves into health-care reform at a practical level) explains, "on evidence-based medicine." So today's students will debate the economics of end-of-life care and the value of prescribing both lower doses and generic drugs. They'll even talk about the financial and physical impacts of referring patients to specialists. "Our students must think about the costs to society and the harm that can be done by excessive tests," Axelrod tells me (Monica Yant Kinney, 8/8).

San Jose Mercury News: California Health Reform Threatened By Bill For Basic Health Plan
California's work to create a more affordable and fair health care system is threatened by legislation in Sacramento that would create a Basic Health Plan. This plan poses a grave threat to the California Health Benefit Exchange, which is the linchpin of federal health care reform. When launched in 2014, the exchange will provide a new competitive marketplace for as many as 2 million consumers and business owners. Californians with incomes up to four times the federal poverty level — over $90,000 for a family of four — will receive subsidies to purchase insurance (Micah Weinberg, 8/7).

CNN: Long Wait At The Doctor's Office? Blame The Patients
Most of the time, I see my patients promptly. I hate running late. But like all doctors, every once in a while, I'm significantly behind schedule. And it's usually not my fault. So who's to blame if your doctor is running late? Blame the patients (Dr. Anthony Youn, 8/7).

Des Moines Register: Another View: What Iowa Conservatives Should Be Talking About
This week, conservative politicians and activists will gather for the Family Leadership Summit. … although the Family Leader tends to limit its focus to just a handful of hot-button social issues, I am hopeful that they might find some time to talk about other issues that have to do with our nation's families. ... They might be able to fit into their speeches that the Ryan budget ... would have a disastrous impact on vulnerable families by gutting programs they rely on to survive and thrive. … This budget plan would radically change Medicare for the worse, leaving seniors without the care they need, and it would slash funding for health insurance programs (Sister Simone Campbell, 8/8).

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