KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s Opinions: Cuccinelli Argues For Quickly Moving Va. Case To The Supreme Court; Unraveling Medicaid Leaves A Big Gap; Taking Away A Cancer Treatment

The Dallas Morning News: If New Health Care Reforms Die, America Loses
It's hard not to laugh at the cries over the "injustice" of forcing people to buy coverage. Working Americans are already forced to buy health coverage – but for others. They can't choose not to pay the Medicare payroll tax. They can't even make a deal with the government, promising, "I will forgo all future Medicare benefits if I can be freed from the Medicare payroll tax" (Froma Harrop, 12/16).

The Washington Post: Time For The Supreme Court To Weigh In On The Health-Care Law
Assistant Attorney General Tony West faxed me a letter conveying the Justice Department's decision not to join Virginia in seeking to fast-track this case by skipping the appeals court and taking it directly to the Supreme Court. There is simply too much at stake to allow final resolution to be unnecessarily delayed. There is financial uncertainty for state governments, employers and citizens inherent in not knowing whether the law will still exist two years from now (Ken Cuccinelli, 12/16).

The Washington Post: The Wrong Way To Reform Health Care
On Thursday, 20 states argued in a Pensacola, Fla., courtroom against not only the individual mandate in the federal health-care law but also the massive Medicaid expansion that places state budgets and taxpayers in peril. Our suit differs from that brought by the state of Virginia, but we agree that the health reform law crosses legal boundaries. The Obama administration has threatened that court rulings against this legislation will devastate efforts to provide universal health care. Yet until struck down, ObamaCare will be a disaster for our Constitution (Bill McCollum, 12/17).

The New York Times: Can Congress Force You To Be Healthy?
When the health care law makes it to the Supreme Court, the justices will ask, with varying degrees of concern, this age-old question: How do we define the limits, because limits there must be, on this federal power? Judge (Henry) Hudson has presented a way for the court to finally answer this question. His opinion is the first prominent judgment to say that Congress can use its power over interstate commerce only to regulate "activity," as opposed to a lack of action. This strikes many as a bold assertion, but it has a lot going for it (Jason Mazzone, 12/16). 

Los Angeles Times: What's Our Collective Desire On Individual Mandate?
What part of the insurance business do opponents of healthcare reform not understand? That's a question I frequently ask myself when I hear people complaining about a requirement that almost everyone buy coverage in return for insurers not being able to turn anyone away, regardless of medical condition (David Lazarus, 12/17).

McClatchy/The Idaho Statesman: Court That Matters Hasn't Ruled On Health Care
Virginia-based federal judge Henry Hudson has one tangential Idaho connection. As The Associated Press pointed out in a profile this week, Hudson was head of the U.S. Marshals Service during the fatal 1992 siege at North Idaho's Ruby Ridge. On Monday, Hudson became a hero to conservatives in Idaho and elsewhere when he rejected a key tenet of health care reform: the "individual mandate" requiring Americans to purchase health insurance (12/16).

The Christian Science Monitor: NYT Got It Wrong On Health Care Big Picture
David Leonhardt speaks as the wise one from on high, assuring readers that opposition to Obamacare is part of the American tradition of individualism and laissez-faire (Jeffrey Tucker, 12/16).

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid May Not Be ideal, But Unraveling It Would Be Foolish
Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is not just a Republican. He's also a doctor. And that means he has not one but two reasons to dislike Medicaid. Not only does it cost the government a lot of money. It also serves a lot of its beneficiaries poorly (Jonathan Cohn, 12/17).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Keep Focus On Mental Illness
With advances in medication, "de-institutionalization" is an easy sell. Many people with mental illness, if properly treated, can live in the community. The change also allows state and local governments to save money by closing mental hospitals. Unfortunately, the other half of de-institutionalization -- community-based treatment -- never comes to pass in any meaningful way (Janice M. Eisen, 12/15).

Chicago Tribune: Tag-Team Smackdown
(President Barack) Obama's big challenge will be to succeed where he has said in the past that (President Bill) Clinton failed. Triangulation forced Clinton, who came into office pursuing big ideas like health care reform, to begin thinking smaller – like promoting mandatory school uniforms – in order to compromise with his opponents. As Obama tries to pick up where Clinton left off, he has a lot to learn from the old master's mistakes as well as his victories (Clarence Page, 12/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Breast Cancer And The FDA
Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration moved to revoke its regulatory approval of Avastin for metastatic breast cancer. Withdrawing a cancer treatment is almost never done, and though the decision was expected, that does not make it any less reprehensible (12/17).

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