KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Diabetes, Future Health Ills & The GOP; Debate On FDA OTC Plan; Sen. Brown’s Daughter’s Health Insurance

The New York Times: No Longer Just 'Adult-Onset'
A study of diabetes in overweight and obese youngsters bears an ominous warning about future health care trends in this country. It found that Type 2 diabetes, a new scourge among young people, progresses faster and is harder to treat in youngsters than in adults. ... Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are bent on dismantling health care reforms that could greatly assist in curbing the obesity epidemic. ... Killing off [the prevention fund] would be hugely costly to Americans’ health, and future health care costs. There is no explanation for this move, except for the usual anti-health care reform demagogy (5/6).

USA Today: Editorial: FDA Prescription Drugs Plan Would Empower You
Now, some of the same naysayers are trying to derail a Food and Drug Administration proposal that could make more prescription-only drugs — such as those to treat asthma, migraines, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol — more accessible without visits to a doctor. Today is the deadline for public comments (5/6).

USA Today: Opposing View: Don't Bypass Physicians
As physicians, our primary concern is ensuring the health and safety of our patients. The Food and Drug Administration has offered a new concept to make more prescription drugs available over the counter (OTC). Proponents claim it could improve patient health and outcomes, reduce patient costs and promote proper medication use. We are skeptical that it would achieve any of these goals (Dr. Peter W. Carmel, 5/6).

Boston Globe: Health Coverage: Helping Ayla Brown
The 23-year-old professional singer Ayla Brown surely ran into the same issue many other workers her age face: If a young, self-employed worker needs health insurance, the most affordable way for her to get it is to stay on her parents’ policy, as allowed under Massachusetts law and President Obama’s 2010 health care law. The fact that her father, Scott Brown, opposed Obama's health care overhaul doesn’t make him a hypocrite, as critics charge. Opposition to a law doesn’t oblige Brown or anyone else to pretend that it doesn’t exist (5/5). 

The New York Times: I Promise That If Elected, Everyone Will Win The Lottery
Henry IV of France guaranteed a chicken in every pot in the 16th Century. So did the Republicans in 1928. Neither party succeeded, but the potted-chicken notion seems positively modest by the standards of today's political promises. ... What [voters] should really worry about are [Romney's] incredibly bad ideas, like passing a balanced-budget amendment that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the economy; converting Medicaid into a block grant; and converting Medicare into a voucher system (Andrew Rosenthal, 5/4).

Chicago Tribune: Accretive Health And The True Cost Of Outsourcing
Chicago-based Accretive (Health) says (Minnesota Attorney General Lori) Swanson has presented a gross misrepresentation of its tactics. But legalities aside, the dust-up points up an aspect of outsourcing that isn't always given enough consideration: For all the emphasis on what a company gets by subcontracting, such as cost containment or expertise, it is also giving up something very important. Control (Phil Rosenthal, 5/5).

The New York Times: Are Oral Arguments Worth Arguing About?
It is true that [Solicitor General Donald B.] Verrilli coughed and stumbled a bit at the beginning of the crucial second day of the health care argument, and it is possible to imagine crisper answers than some of the ones he gave. ... But the small band of lawyers who argue frequently before the Supreme Court say his performance was solid, conveying the points he was paid to make in sober and deliberate fashion (Adam Liptak, 5/5).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Get Employers Out Of Health Insurance Business
It may have been prudent more than a half-century ago to create this type of financing of health-care services, but it makes no sense in a free and autonomous society for employers to be involved in our health insurance or decision-making — at any level. We need to emancipate ourselves from employer-based control of our ability to flourish (Stephen Gambescia, 5/6).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Stop Playing Politics With Women’s Lives
Too many Americans don't get the preventive health care they need to stay healthy because of cost. President Obama's health-insurance-reform law expands access to important cancer-prevention tools, saving and adding years to women's lives, and eliminating difficult choices that women ... face every year (Gabrielle Union, 5/7).

McClatchy: What About Rights Of Women In The Abortion Debate?
On a 3-0 vote in a [South Carolina] Senate panel, a budget clause that would eliminate a woman’s ability to get an abortion through a state health plan if she’s a victim of rape or incest was approved. It is expected to be debated by the full Senate in May. And because the state has not elected a woman to the Senate, that debate will take place only among men (Issac J. Bailey, 5/7).

CNN: Why Emergency Rooms Don't Close The Health Care Gap
After all, it is a commonly held belief that no one can be denied care (in the emergency room). So -- in essence -- everyone can get free health care if they need it. We have a universal system after all. That, of course, is not true. … You can't get preventive care in the emergency department. … The costs of treatment in the emergency room are not quickly dismissed or written off (Dr. Aaron Carroll, 5/7).

Detroit Free Press: When Jails Must Be Mental Clinics
With the closing of most state psychiatric hospitals and cuts in community mental health programs, jails will continue to hold thousands of mentally ill prisoners. Easing the problem will require sheriffs to work closely with local Community Mental Health authorities, assess mentally ill prisoners immediately, maintain medications, and divert more nonviolent offenders from costly jail time to treatment. Federal and state lawmakers should enact legislation requiring insurance and Medicaid benefits to continue in jail (Jeff Gerritt, 5/6). 

The Kansas City Star: All Pay For Untreated Mental Illness
In the face of financial pressures on our city, state and federal government, ensuring the needs of those suffering from severe mental illness are met can appear challenging. Yet the fiscal risks of not addressing these medical and social needs results in far greater costs and puts our society at risk. ... the costs to metropolitan Kansas City of untreated mental illness is more than $624 million per year (Bernard Franklin, 5/6).

Sacramento Bee: Big Tobacco's Unlikeliest Ally
Wearing a lab coat and speaking from an exam room, La Donna Porter looks every bit the wise physician, even as she does the bidding of the tobacco industry, which contributes to the deaths of 443,000 Americans every year. Porter is the star of tobacco-funded radio and television commercials intended to snuff out Proposition 29, the initiative on the June 5 ballot that would raise taxes by $1 per pack on cigarettes (Dan Morain, 5/6).

The Washington Post: Forget Gambling — Prince George's Should Go All In On Health Care
I propose a different approach to solving Prince George’s [County, Md.] budget dilemma: Make the county the go-to destination for quality health care in the region. ... A large, 21st-century health-care sector would be a much more reliable way to bring revenue and good, permanent jobs to the county in an industry with huge potential for growth. And it also would address another stubborn challenge facing the county: finding a way to improve health care in Prince George’s, which falls near the bottom of many regional health-care measurements (Melony G. Griffith, 5/5).

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