Viewpoints: Picking The ‘Right Fights’; Sebelius’s ‘Special Place’ In History
The Wall Street Journal: A Payroll Tax Deal
Republicans do need to fight for their priorities, but it helps to pick the right fights. They should return in 2012 ready to make their differences clear on taxes, health care, regulation, and how to grow an economy (12/23).
The Washington Post: Kathleen Sebelius's Health-Care Muddle
When the history of the 2012 campaign is written, a special place may be reserved for Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary and former governor of Kansas, who is doing her best to make the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — disappear as a political liability for the president. The most compelling evidence of this is her decision to delegate to states the final decision on defining "essential health benefits" for minimum health insurance coverage (Robert J. Samuelson, 12/22).
The New York Times: The Wyden-Ryan Plan: Déjà Vu All Over Again
After wrestling for decades and in futility with the triple problems facing health care in the United States – unsustainable spending growth, lack of timely access to health care for millions of uninsured Americans and highly varied quality of care – any new proposal to address these problems is likely to be a recycled old idea (Uwe E. Reinhardt, 12/23).
Des Moines Register: Guest Columnists: Privatizing Medicare Won't Slow Rising Costs
But the proposal has a fatal defect: it does nothing to stem the unsustainable growth rate of health care spending. If we don’t address the foundational problem of rising health care prices, then the Ryan-Wyden plan will merely turn the government’s eventual bankruptcy into inevitable bankruptcy for millions of seniors. ... Rather than a budget fix from Washington, we need to tackle the fundamental forces driving the escalating costs of health care, including insurance that encourages non-value-added costs, monopolies that expand unnecessary infrastructure, and regulations that prevent competition (Barak D. Richman and Kevin A. Schulman, 12/22).
Boston Globe: The State’s Big Medicare Experiment
It’s hard to imagine the Boston area's medical establishment and the federal government -- two of the most entrenched institutions on the planet -- working together as change agents. As counterintuitive as that may sound, there may be some truth to it. The evidence: Five hospital systems and physician groups in Massachusetts were selected this week to participate in a pilot program that changes the way health care providers are paid to care for Medicare patients (Steven Syre, 12/23).
Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Collaborative Care Key to Meeting Future Health Care Needs
A little over a year ago, the Institute of Medicine's landmark Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report put forward a series of recommendations for transforming the nation’s health care system. Among them was a call for a system in which "interprofessional collaboration and coordination are the norm." That’s no simple assignment in a system that often operates in silos, from schooling through practice. But a number of innovators around the nation are already making headway (Maryjoan Ladden, 12/22).
The Seattle Times: Rise Above The 'Opioid Wars' To Manage Chronic Pain
People living with chronic pain in Washington state have become collateral damage in an ongoing battle that has been characterized as the "opioid wars." The compelling series written by Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong describes how new legislation intended to address prescription-drug abuse in Washington state (ESHB 2876) has further exacerbated the tension between two polarizing positions and has brought national attention to an increasingly alarming situation in Washington. ... To read that health-care professionals in Washington state are refusing to treat pain, citing fears of the new legislation, or simply giving up in frustration, is unconscionable (Myra J. Christopher, 12/22).
Los Angeles Times: The FDA And The Sperm Donor
The way Trent Arsenault touts himself, he's a tall, healthy and educated altruist who helps others by donating his sperm (sans sexual intercourse) on a fairly large scale. The way the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sees it, he operates a sperm bank, albeit an informal and unpaid one, that fails to meet federal regulations. From our perspective, the FDA is overreaching (12/22).