Viewpoints: LA Times Wants Solutions From GOP Candidates; WSJ Finds Worrisome Census Numbers
Los Angeles Times: The GOP's Hard-Right Tilt
We've now seen three full-dress debates among the Republican politicians who want to be the next president of the United States, and here's what we've learned: They all believe taxes are too high, even though federal taxes are lower as a percentage of the U.S. economy than any time in the last 60 years. They all believe onerous environmental regulations are preventing economic recovery, though few economists would agree. They believe President Obama's healthcare law is getting in the way of recovery, though most of its provisions don't really take effect until 2014. And they believe, correctly, that Social Security and Medicare are heading into fiscal crises — but in most cases, they haven't offered specific solutions. In other words, on the issues Americans are most worried about — reviving the economy, creating jobs and reducing the federal deficit — there's not much of a debate inside the GOP (Doyle McManus, 9/25).
The Wall Street Journal: The Census, ObamaCare And The Uninsured
The U.S. Census Bureau has released its latest estimates on poverty, income and health-insurance coverage. Strikingly, the official poverty rate is the highest it's been in 50 years. As one might expect, the number of Americans without health insurance also rose—to 49.9 million, an increase of 919,000 since 2009. But that large number hides more than it reveals. And diving into it shows that the uninsured rate won't fall unless the economy starts humming again. Unfortunately, ObamaCare's billions of dollars in new taxes and regulations won't allow that to happen (Sally C. Pipes, 9/26).
Chicago Tribune: Bachmann's Silence Is Golden
Steven Miles and Arthur Caplan are my new heroes. They should be yours too — if you hold the radical opinion that facts matter. Miles, a University of Minnesota bioethicist, offered $1,000 to charity if Michele Bachmann can prove a link she suggested between vaccinations for human papillomavirus and intellectual disability. Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, upped the ante on Miles' offer, adding $10,000 of his own (Leonard Pitts, 9/26).
(New Hampshire) Union Leader: Medicaid Politics: NH Taxpayers Lost
Had former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen been able to implement his Medicaid reforms six years ago, New Hampshire would be in much better shape today. When Stephen became commissioner in 2003, New Hampshire had already spent more than a decade skimming federal Medicaid money into the general fund. In 2004, Stephen and Gov. Craig Benson arranged with the federal Department of Health and Human Services to change the “mediscam” formula in place since 1997. The deal was that New Hampshire would not be penalized for mediscam taxes if it fixed the formula in the next budget. The state did, but HHS later decided that New Hampshire should pay back $35 million in mediscam taxes collected in 2004 before the changes took effect. How to find $35 million in savings in this already deeply cut state budget? One method the Lynch administration hopes to use is to switch Medicaid from a fee-for-service program to a managed care program, like an HMO. That’s great, but here’s the interesting bit: Stephen proposed this change soon after he became commissioner, and Democrats, including Lynch, blocked it for partisan political reasons (9/25).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Best Health Care Solutions Just Might Bubble Up
Take it from politician-cum-professor Dave Durenberger: "All health care is local." Don't get him wrong. The former Republican U.S. senator, founder of the National Institute of Health Policy and University of St. Thomas prof is a strong supporter of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which politicians in his erstwhile party call "Obamacare." But the real work of improving America's health and controlling costs won't be done in Washington, no matter who wins the next election, Durenberger told a Minneapolis church audience last week. It will happen in those places where local political and civic leaders put better, more affordable health high on their own agendas (Lori Sturdevant, 9/24).
Chicago Tribune: Chicago Wellness: Shape Up, Save Money
Chicago's police union walked right into a barrage of doughnut jokes last week by declining to sign on to the city's new wellness program. The president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, who leads an umbrella organization representing local labor unions, stood beside Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce the program, a win-win designed to save taxpayers money by getting city employees to take care of themselves. All of the city's unions are on board except for the Fraternal Order of Police (9/26).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Oral Cancer Drugs Should Be Covered
As a practicing oncologist, I find that no amount of training could prepare me for some of the challenging facets of my job. While my training prepared me and my colleagues to handle emotional issues faced by patients with life-threatening cancers, it did not prepare me to tell a patient that the best treatment for their disease is financially out of reach - simply because it comes in pill form. Yet this is exactly the scenario that plays out every day because many health plans do not cover oral anti-cancer medications at the same level as intravenous or infused anti-cancer medications given in a doctor's office or hospital (Parameswaran Hari, 9/24).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Finding Answers At Mental Health Complex
Milwaukee County needs to modify its approach to treating mental health patients. That much is clear. But that does not mean that more money is needed to fix the obvious problems at the Mental Health Complex. It's more a matter of how well the county spends the money it has….We need to recognize that compliance - a patient taking his or her medications on schedule - is a core problem. And we need to fix it (Bob Chernow, 9/24).
San Francisco Chronicle: City's Bill Overreaches On Pregnancy Center Ads
San Francisco's city officials pride themselves as nationwide trendsetters and leaders in enacting progressive legislation to further the equal protection and interests of all San Franciscans. Yet, in the midst of this election season, the Board of Supervisors seems set on imitating failed legislation in other parts of the country, infringing on women's protected rights and dangerously limiting First Amendment protections. Is this the San Francisco way? The so-called "False Advertising by Limited Services Pregnancy Centers" bill follows a floundering national campaign by a pro-choice political organization to pass "disclosure" laws against pregnancy care centers (Shari Plunkett, 9/23).