KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s OpEds: Varying Points On The Nation’s Doctor Shortage, Benefits Of Negative Studies, And What About Universal Health Care?

Raising Doctors To Treat Children The New York Times
In the long list of problems affecting the American health care system, the shortage of general practitioners and overabundance of specialists is usually ranked near the top. There is truth to this: only 32 percent of physicians practice primary care medicine. As a result, patients have to wait longer to see their doctors and are more likely to be seen by nurse practitioners and physician assistants instead. However, pediatrics has the opposite problem: a growing shortage of pediatric subspecialists (Dennis Rosen, 7/22).

Nurses, PAs Could Augment Primary Care For The Medically Underserved In Colorado The Colorado Statesman
The Association of American Medical Colleges tells us that only 350,000 doctors are primary care physicians, and they are the doctors most needed by our populations. By 2025 this country will be short 150,000 physicians including 45,000 to 60,000 primary care doctors. Researchers at the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies recognized the coming shortage and suggested how to reduce the shortage. … One alternative is to expand the use of physician assistants (Jerry Kopel, 7/23).

'Negative' Studies Could Help Avoid Ineffective, Costly Treatments The Washington Post
Negative studies -- the ones that fail to find that one therapy is superior to another -- usually do not elicit much excitement. Scientific studies with breakthrough results establishing the effectiveness of something new tend to get all the attention, while those that fail to find the hoped-for results are often ignored. But with high costs and patient overtreatment looming large in the health-care debate, negative studies may be getting a closer look (Harlan Krumholz, 7/23).

The Public Deserves A Hearing For A Medicare Appointee The Washington Post
General testimony about health reform is not the same as a confirmation hearing. Dr. Berwick, as we have said previously, comes to the job with impeccable qualifications and broad support, including that of three Republican predecessors at the CMS. But he has made numerous controversial statements about which Republicans ought to have been able to question him fully. It's unfortunate that Mr. Baucus and the administration seem disinclined to have that happen, and it lends credence to suggestions that the administration was motivated not only by the asserted need for speed but also by a desire to avoid a public debate about Dr. Berwick's views (7/23).

Control High Costs The News & Observer
The time for debating the pros and cons of health care reform legislation has passed. While Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina supports most of the new law, the biggest health care challenge all North Carolinians will continue to face is the rising cost of medical care, which reform legislation did not substantially address. Health care reform cannot succeed if underlying medical costs continue to skyrocket; it will threaten our access to affordable health insurance coverage and ultimately to medical care itself (J. Bradley Wilson, 7/23).

Single-Payer Or Bust The American Spectator
The new national health care law may represent the largest expansion in the role of government since the Great Society, but for liberal activists, it was just the appetizer. Here at the annual Netroots Nation conference for self-described progressives, organizers discussed their strategy for pushing toward their ultimate goal of a fully government-run, or single-payer, health care system (Philip Klein, 7/23).

Keep Pushing For Universal Health Care The Wisconsin State Journal
"Please don't take me to the hospital. I don't have insurance," pleaded the moaning young man lying on the wet, dark pavement at my feet next to his smashed hulk of a car. ... I do not know what happened to the young man who was flat on his back on the I-94 pavement, but the scene haunts me. Why in our country should the first words out of a young accident victim's mouth express fear of financial catastrophe due to inadequate health care coverage? Citizens should not have to forego medical care or worry about financial ruin if they suffer a catastrophic illness or accident. As we head toward mid-term elections, we must choose representatives who will continue the fight for health care reform. We must not rest until we have health insurance for all Americans (Dr. Keith Meyer, 7/23).

Virginia's Latest Attempt To Secede From The United States The Washington Post
More recently, the Virginia legislature dusted off the old "nullification doctrine" and declared that no Virginian shall be subject to the new federal law requiring all Americans to buy health insurance. … Now, Virginia will bring its battle against federal authority right into the classroom with its decision to opt out of the movement to establish national standards for educational proficiency for elementary and high school students (Steven Pearlstein, 7/23). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.