KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: A Plan For Cheaper, Better Care; The Philly Abortion Trial Raises Questions About Regulations

The Washington Post: How To Build A Better Health Care System
The four of us came together to change the conversation around how to improve health care and constrain cost growth. What we learned is that, until better care is prioritized over more care, our nation will continue to face a problem with health-care costs. The good news is that, through thoughtful policy, health-care practitioners can be encouraged through rewards to focus far more on what is best for their patients and less on the number of tests and procedures they can order. The even better news is that such a health-care vision can not only produce better care but also cost less (Tom Daschle, Bill Frist, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, 4/18).

Los Angeles Times: Why Are Prices For Medical Care Such A Mystery?
Ted Kamp wanted to make sure his daughter received the medical treatment she needed. That was his first priority. His second was making sure his insurance would cover things and that he'd pay a fair price for any procedures. The fact that this proved so difficult highlights one of the crazier aspects of the U.S. healthcare system: the inability of patients to know how much their treatment really costs (David Lazarus, 4/18).

USA Today: Philadelphia Abortion House Of Horrors: Our View
The ongoing trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is finally getting the attention it deserves, and for good reason. The 2011 grand jury report on Gosnell, charged with murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies, is a gruesome and disturbing document. It includes accounts of fully delivered, live babies having their spinal chords severed by scissors. And it describes horribly unsafe and unsanitary conditions at a business that allegedly operated as a pill mill by day and rogue abortion clinic by night. ... Aside from the obvious — that regulators should do their jobs, and that criminal doctors should be harshly prosecuted — it's hard to say what else should be concluded from the Gosnell case. Unless evidence emerges that clinics like his exist in other parts of the country, the case looks like an appalling anomaly (4/18).

USA Today: Abortion Regulation Not Enough: Opposing View
How do we prevent another Kermit Gosnell? That's the question hanging over the trial of the Philadelphia abortionist accused of murdering a pregnant woman and seven babies born alive after attempted late-term abortions. ... Abortion is one of the least regulated surgical procedures in America. Just 29 states regulate abortion centers at all, and a minority of these states have anything approaching comprehensive regulation. ... So yes, let's pass stronger "physician-only" laws and hospital admitting privileges requirements. And let's mandate comprehensive reporting requirements for abortions and abortion complications (Lila Rose, 4/18).  

The Washington Post: Five Myths About Abortion
When debating whether a fetus's "right to life" trumps a woman's "right to choose" — or whether the news media has paid enough attention to the trial of a Philadelphia doctor who allegedly killed seven babies born alive during late-term abortions, as well as a pregnant woman — Americans are bitterly divided on abortion. Before abandoning facts for rhetoric, let's tackle some misunderstandings about this procedure (Rickie Solinger, 4/18). 

The Wall Street Journal: Back-Alley Abortion Never Ended
Safety is one of the most potent defenses of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that imposed a national policy of abortion on demand. Women had abortions even before it was legal to do so, the argument goes, but restrictive laws forced them to go to back-alley quacks. In this view, the story of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist on trial for the murders of one woman and seven infants, is a cautionary tale about illegal, not legal, abortion. The facts tell a different story (James Taranto, 4/18).

The Wall Street Journal: The Sanctity Of Life, Even In A Test Tube
Sir Robert Edwards, the Nobel Prize-winning British "test tube baby" pioneer who died last week at age 87, devoted his career to developing in vitro fertilization as a technique to enable women afflicted with certain forms of infertility to conceive and bear children. As a result, there are millions of people in the world today—some now in their 30s—who otherwise would not have been born. According to Edwards's admirers, their lives are his legacy. Yet Edwards was, and remains, a controversial figure (Robert P. George, 4/18). 

Des Moines Register: Medicaid Expansion Gives States Flexibility
(Iowa Gov.) Terry Branstad says Medicaid is outdated. So he hired a consultant and whipped up an alternative called the "Healthy Iowa Plan." In the unlikely event it is approved by both the Iowa Legislature and Washington, Iowa would receive a fraction of the federal money it would receive under a Medicaid expansion. What kind of health coverage would Branstad's plan provide for 89,000 of the poorest Iowans? According to a one-page document released last week, it would cover everything from prescription drugs and hospitalization to mental health and home care with a cost to the state of only $23 million. Just do the math on that one (4/18).

Miami Herald: Don't Reject Medicaid Funds
The Florida House's refusal to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid stands as the most confounding action of the 2013 legislative session thus far, and probably the most irresponsible. Money that could be used to help more than a million needy Floridians who lack access to healthcare is in danger of being rejected for political reasons that fly in the face of common sense and elementary mathematics. The federal proposal is unquestionably favorable for Florida and its taxpayers (4/19).

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