KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Wis. Gov. Calls Obamacare ‘Bad Policy;’ ‘DoThe Math’ Before Deciding On Medicaid Expansion

The Washington Post: Obamacare Is An Unhealthy Prescription
Since the Supreme Court upheld President Obama's health-care mandate, there has been exhaustive discussion about the philosophical basis of this federal law. As Election Day approaches, debate will surely grow about the proper role of our federal government. But while much attention has focused on Congress's intention to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, too few are studying the law's practical impact. The best place to see the effects of the law is in our nation's laboratories, the states. Although the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the act, Wisconsin shows that it is bad policy (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, 7/12).

Houston Chronicle: Let's Do The Math Before Deciding On Medicaid Expansion
We need to engage in reality-based math before rejecting existing or expanded Medicaid with all of its intrusions…. Medicaid indeed troubles states like Texas that struggle to raise taxes. But before we give up an opportunity to get a lot of benefit for a relatively low cost because we can't accept paying money via taxes instead of insurance premiums or hospital bills, we need to get beyond labels and convenient but sloppy math (Seth J. Chandler, 7/12).

Kansas City Star: Nixon Should Use, Not Hoard, Political Capital
Obamacare haters in the Missouri legislature immediately vowed that Missouri would not raise its limits, which currently cover adults at a measly 19 percent of the poverty level. Nixon could lead on this issue. He could say clearly, as he did in his campaign four years ago, that Missouri's very low limits are "a wrong, mistaken policy that (have had) a horrific effect on working parents." He could say he will do all in his power to persuade the legislature to raise the limits and take advantage of the billions of dollars in federal aid that would pour into Missouri to boost the state’s medical infrastructure. But when asked this week about the limits, all Nixon would say is "It's complicated" and assure us he's working through it (Barbara Shelley, 7/12).

Fox: We, The People, Must Save Health Care
Our focus should be on the question, "How do we stop what is certain to be a threat to every freedom that crosses its path?" ... Congress made this mess; it's not up to the Supreme Court to fix it. And if the mess is going to get cleaned up, it's up to the people (Tony Perkins, 7/11).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Moment Of Truth
In medicine, the treatments known as heroic measures pose grave risks to patients but are performed anyway because the alternative is certain death. That also more or less describes what Chief Justice John Roberts did to save the Affordable Care Act, and now the entitlement faces another challenge, especially in the states (7/12).

Reuters: How One Model State Is Implementing Healthcare Reform
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on healthcare reform, the front line of the battle moves to the states. ... To get a sense of what's at stake, consider Maryland - a state that has been moving aggressively to implement the ACA since President Obama signed it in 2010. The state expects to hit all the federal deadlines to be ready to go in January 2014 (Mark Miller, 7/12).

MinnPost:  Roberts' Health-Care Ruling Is Based On A Strategic Inconsistency
By now anyone paying attention knows that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling determined the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional because the penalty that enforces the individual mandate is a tax. Less well known is that Roberts' ruling also declared the opposite: The penalty that enforces the individual mandate is not a tax. Roberts' reasoning is inconsistent and strategic. It enables him to do two things he otherwise could not do in the same ruling: declare the ACA constitutional and limit congressional power under the commerce clause (Jeffrey L. Bineham, 7/12).

Baltimore Sun: Universal Health Care On The Horizon
U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the Supreme Court have not only upheld the Affordable Care Act, they struck down a barrier to universal health care for Americans. Looking forward from the Supreme Court's decision, by defining the cost of expanding coverage as a tax, the court has moved our thinking toward universal health care as a proper cost of the country's well-being (Dr. James Burdick, 7/12).

The Hill: Perilous Precedent For Any President
The religious exemption the Obama administration has provided in its HHS regulations supports the conclusion that the president wants evangelical and Catholic voices out of the public square and consigned to roles on Sunday mornings. The so-called "accommodation" by the administration to shift the cost of abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization to insurers is a farce, an accounting gimmick. That is why groups like little Ave Maria University are in federal court (Jim Towey, 7/11).

Des Moines Register: People Need Insurance, Not Symbolism
The vote was a variation of something [House Republicans] have done 30 times before. With Democrats occupying a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate and with a Democrat in the White House, the House Republicans' vote was purely symbolic and will not affect a single American's access to health insurance. But lawmakers should not be let off the hook for their votes. As the Nov. 6 election approaches, Iowans should ask Republican Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham what they intend to do if their dream to kill health insurance reform becomes a reality. What are their plans to insure as many Americans as the health law does (7/12)?

Denver Post: Hot Shots Earn Health Insurance
The wildland firefighters who inhaled smoke and ash as they desperately worked to save Colorado homes deserve more than our gratitude — they also deserve health insurance, even the part-timers. We were heartened that President Obama, who recently visited Colorado's fire zones, saw it the same way. On Tuesday, the president ordered his administration to offer health insurance to seasonal, federal firefighters, a group previously denied such coverage (7/12).

Journal of the American Medical Association: The Uncertainty Is Not Ending
With the long-awaited ruling by the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—notably the Court’s assertion that the individual mandate is constitutional, as well as its finding that the requirement that states expand their Medicaid coverage or lose all Medicaid money is coercive—some seem to think that "uncertainty" related to the ACA has ended. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth (Gail Wilensky, 7/12).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Stigma A Barrier To HIV Treatment Despite Medical Advances
Today, with access to medical treatments and care, HIV need not lead to AIDS and death. Indeed, people living with HIV can expect a high quality of life and normal life span. But decreased death and better medicines have led to false perceptions that HIV isn't a serious health threat or that people are no longer at risk. We are concerned that these beliefs and other societal barriers have kept our state's diagnosis rate, averaging 430 Coloradans per year, from declining over the past decade (Dr. Benjamin Young and Dr. David Cohn, 7/13). 

The Washington Post: Medicine That Is More Placebo Than Cure
Some drugs that the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved for distribution to the world's poor are of inferior quality — shoddy products that hurt people who urgently need medicine — and some of the manufacturers, predominantly Chinese and Indian firms, may be knowingly producing them. This is the conclusion of my research teams' studies, published this week in the journal Research and Reports in Tropical Medicine (Roger Bate, 7/12).

Houston Chronicle: Good Incentive On Childhood Cancer Drugs
We don't necessarily fault the drug companies for their choice not to deliver these drugs. They are incentivized by the system in place to do good by doing well, and that means creating drugs that help large numbers of patients and, in the process, yield healthy bottom lines for the companies. But that is scant consolation for the families of children caught in the middle. They deserve better than to be effectively abandoned because their illness doesn't fit the economic model dictated by the U.S. health care system (7/12).

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