KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Sebelius On Curbing Health Insurance Costs; Forcing The Mentally Ill Into Treatment

The Washington Post: The Affordable Care Act, Helping Americans Curb Health Care Costs
The rising cost of health insurance coverage has imposed a heavy burden on our nation. Over the past decade, insurance premiums for working families have grown three times faster than have wages. Small businesses have seen health care become one of their biggest operating expenses. And rising state and federal spending on health programs has crowded out critical investments in better schools, new roads and other areas (Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, 1/5).

USA Today: Editorial: Reporting Loophole Lets Mentally Ill Buy Guns
Leave aside for a moment the bitter debates over gun-control, and focus first on two issues Americans tend to agree on: Severely disturbed and potentially violent people such as Arizona's Jared Loughner should receive treatment for mental illness. And they certainly shouldn't be able to buy guns (1/6).

USA Today: Opposing View: Forced Treatment Doesn't Work
Whenever there is violence involving someone with an apparent mental illness, there is a stepped-up demand for forced treatment of those, such as myself, who have a psychiatric diagnosis. However, leaving aside the violation of people's rights, I can tell you from my personal experience with both forced and voluntary treatment that coercive "treatment" doesn't work. Force only drives people away from treatment (Joseph A. Rogers, 1/5). 

Arizona Republic: Ditch The Sick, Create The Surplus
The Arizona politicians who cut the state budget last session and actually created a surplus have been boasting about their accomplishments. And who can blame them? Except maybe nitpickers like public interest lawyer Tim Hogan, who is determined to remind politicians that some of those budget cuts will cause poor people to die, as well as break a promise made by the citizens of Arizona (E.J. Montini, 1/6).

Kansas City Star: Kansas Medicaid Reform Must Protect The Needy
Alyne Thompson's family served its time on the Kansas waiting list for services for developmentally disabled citizens, which currently numbers about 4,500. … Understandably, they are concerned about Gov. Sam Brownback's sweeping Medicaid reform proposal, which would turn the responsibility for medical care and also long-term support services for disabled citizens over to a private contractor. They are not alone. A meeting in Johnson County last month to discuss the proposed changes drew more than 200 worried residents. They feared losing services and being severed from caseworkers (1/5).

McClatchy/The Kansas City Star: Mixing Supply-Side Economics And Abortion
Abortion battles are usually fought over heated moral and political arguments. So it's worth noting when a health economist applies the laws of supply and demand to abortion in red states like Kansas, and comes up with predictions about where abortion politics are taking us. In an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Theodore Joyce of the City University of New York divides attempts to restrict abortion into demand-side and supply-side measures (Bavley, 1/6).

The Seattle Times: Prescription Monitoring Program Is Worth Paying For
Doctors and pharmacists have a new lifesaving tool in the state database allowing them to see all of the controlled substances patients get by prescription. Improved patient safety is worth the estimated $530,000 annual cost of Washington's Prescription Monitoring Program. Doctors and pharmacists have been reluctant to take on the cost, but state lawmakers should require them (1/5).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mayo CEO Defends Use Of Proton Beam Therapy
An op-ed article from the Jan. 3 New York Times questions the motives and consequences of Mayo Clinic's decision to open two proton beam therapy facilities for the advanced treatment of certain cancers. ... Mayo Clinic always does what's best for patients. We will use the proton beam only if it is the best treatment for the right patients. Our program will help to establish this therapy's appropriate role in medical practice (John Noseworthy, 1/5).

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