KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Critically Important To Women; Expanding Medicaid Could Spur State Education Cuts; Misuse Of Antipsychotics In Dementia Patients

The Arizona Republic: Health-Care Law Will Help Boost Women's Access
If we can set aside the political wrangling and focus on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, what becomes obvious is its critically important impact on women's health. The fact is while women are the primary coordinators of health care for families and comprise the majority of U.S. health-care workers, they also put their own health-care needs behind those of their children. Cost is too often the reason (Brenda Thomas, 8/12).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Obamacare's Opponents Just Won't Stop
Will they ever give up? House Republicans have devised yet another plan to try to undermine the health reform law. This one is an attempt at an end-run around the Supreme Court ruling that upheld it. The Court found that the law's individual mandate to maintain health insurance is constitutional. It reasoned that the penalty for failure to comply with it functions in the same way as a tax. As such, Congress has broad power under the Constitution to impose it. The end-run takes that form of an amendment to the law introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) to "clarify" that the penalty shall not be construed as a tax. The measure has four Republican co-sponsors. What's the point? (Robert I. Field, 8/10).

Baltimore Sun: The False Promise Of Dementia Drugs
Federal officials are working to place compassion at the center of how our nation aims to treat elderly patients suffering from dementia. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that they'll coordinate an effort to dramatically reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs among dementia patients in nursing homes. The agency's plan acknowledges that these powerful pharmaceuticals are often overused — and represents a valuable first step toward improving the way we treat people with this condition. But government alone shouldn't dictate how we deal with dementia. Families and caregivers must also recognize when medication is appropriate — and when it's not (Dr. Cheryl Phillips, 8/13).

San Francisco Chronicle: As Medi-Cal Soars, Higher Education Loses
Now Medicaid is split between states and the federal government. And although the federal government will pay the entire cost of the expansion beginning in 2014, three years later states will have to begin sharing the cost. That might leave less money than ever for higher education. The result: higher tuition and fees as academic institutions scramble for ever-scarcer dollars from state budgets (Maura J. Casey, 8/10).

The Orlando-Sentinel: Medicaid Expansion: An Ounce Of Prevention Well Worth It
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Benjamin Franklin wrote in "Poor Richard's Almanack." Gov. Rick Scott should heed the advice of Franklin and accept the Affordable Care Act expansion of Medicaid. In this instance, federal funding serves as the "ounce of prevention," as it will prevent death, serious injury and medical debt. The "pound of cure" offered by Scott is higher insurance premiums and rising public costs. ... the expansion would provide health insurance to low-income working-class people who don't have insurance through their employers (Michael Vaghaiwalla, 8/11).

Sacramento Bee: Mental Health Spending Needs An Honest Audit
Two Republican legislators have requested an audit of the billions raised by the Proposition 63 tax on wealthy Californians to pay for mental health services. The request came late in the session, and the committee that decides whether to order audits is not scheduled to meet until a new Legislature is sworn in. But the Democratic-controlled Legislature should find a way to meet this request. Over the years, there have been many accounts of Proposition 63 money being misspent. The issue is too important to let slide (8/10).

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