KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The High-Stakes Of Wisconsin Recall; One Entrepreneur’s Fears That Health Law Will Be Overturned

A selection of editorials and opinions on health care policy from around the country.

The Wall Street Journal: The Wisconsin Recall Stakes
A single election rarely determines a democracy's fate, but some matter more than others. Tuesday's recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one that matters a great deal, because it will test whether taxpayers have any hope of controlling the entitlement state and its dominant special interests (6/3).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Consequences Of Striking Down Affordable Care Act
The Republican Party made obstruction of the health-care bill a central political strategy during the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. After the bill passed, Republicans then objected that the minimum-coverage provision — originally promoted by Republican politicians and conservative think tanks — was unconstitutional, in an effort to secure the victory in court they couldn't obtain in politics. This strategy flouts traditional conservative arguments for judicial restraint. ... Striking down the ACA would amount to the most consequential — and least justified — invalidation of a federal law on federalism grounds since the Great Depression (Neil S. Siegel, 6/3).

The Hill: Repealing Healthcare Reform -- A Risk We Can't Afford
Before I started my business, I worked in corporate America for 13 years. One of the biggest surprises I faced when I decided to start my own business was how little we got in health care benefits for almost twice the dollars. Even now, businesses our size are still too small to have any bargaining power. The ACA’s state insurance exchanges are finally going to change that. A state exchange will give me the opportunity to band together with thousands of other small businesses across Washington State to get better health care at better rates (Jody Hall, 65/31).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Mandate For Health Services Touches Full Religious Spectrum
Last month, Catholic archdioceses and institutions across the nation filed lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services for its overreaching mandate announced earlier this year. ... Opposition to this radical mandate is not limited to the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. Priests, rabbis and pastors, as well as ministry and faith leaders across the spectrum, are speaking out against this policy. The mandate impacts people of all faiths (Joe Watkins, 6/3).

Boston Globe: Fifty Shades Of Obamacare
And in some circles, the contraception rule has become a stand-in for the ills of Obamacare, a complaint issued with Victorian-era disdain: "Why should I have to pay for your recreational sex?" But that's a highly distorted way of looking at health insurance. We engage in all sorts of recreational pursuits that carry all sorts of consequences; if pregnancy is a potential outcome of recreational sex, then knee surgery is a potential outcome of recreational skiing (Joanna Weiss, 6/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Treating You Better For Less
There is some good news about the overly costly, underperforming American health care system. A growing number of hospitals, doctors, employers and health insurers are finding ways to reduce the cost of delivering medical care while maintaining or improving quality. If enough providers adopt their already proven techniques, this grass-roots movement could transform the entire system in ways that will benefit all Americans (6/2).

JAMA: Primary Care: Rebuilding a Foundation For Reforming Health Care Delivery
In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision that will clarify the future of the ACA. If the court completely strikes down the law, this will deliver a major blow not only against coverage expansion, but also to a set of reforms that are built on a foundation of primary care. Clearly, it will take more than the ACA's provisions for primary care to overcome policies set in motion long ago that promoted excessive physician specialization in the United States (Andrew Bindman, 6/1). 

Bloomberg: How 'Death Panels' Can Prolong Life
How do you persuade fellow citizens to accept limits on their right to consume health-care resources? The trick, we think, is to ask them when they're healthy, not when they're sick. If you think a $200,000 operation is going to give you a few more years to live, it's going to be hard to convince you that it's not worth the cost. But before then, when your odds of needing that expensive operation are the same as everybody else's, you might well choose a system that offers a higher life expectancy, even though it costs less (6/3).

Los Angeles Times: Free Markets Vs. Family Values
To compare the health, education, emotional and material well-being of children in 21 economically advanced nations, an international team of researchers looked at such indicators as whether children ate dinner with the family, had someone to talk to, were susceptible to accidents. They reported the highest ratings of well-being among children living in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark — nations that, far more than we, tax the rich, regulate industry and provide such public services as paid parental leave, art subsidies and excellent public schools. The lowest overall rank went to nations pursuing the strongest free-market agenda: the U.S. and Britain (Arlie Russell Hochschild, 6/3).

Los Angeles Times: Medicine You Can't Trust
When you take medicine, there's a good chance you're getting a dose of modern global business practices as well. Eighty percent of the active ingredients in the medications that Americans use are produced overseas. In a single drug, it's quite possible that the individual components came from several countries and were assembled in yet another before arriving on U.S. shores. This diffuse manufacturing operation increases the opportunities for chicanery (5/31).

The New York Times: Let's (Not) Get Physicals
For decades, scientific research has shown that annual physical exams — and many of the screening tests that routinely accompany them — are in many ways pointless or (worse) dangerous, because they can lead to unneeded procedures. The last few years have produced a steady stream of new evidence against the utility of popular tests. ... So why do Americans, nearly alone on the planet, remain so devoted to the ritual physical exam and to all of these tests, and why do so many doctors continue to provide them? (Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, 6/2).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Bad Bill Threatens Women's Health
Republicans in Harrisburg have launched another misguided attack on women's reproductive health care with a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania. ... The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), claims overall public funding for women's health services would not be reduced, but that the bill would prioritize funding so that hospitals, health centers, and other clinics would receive money first. But the intent behind this bill supported by antiabortion groups is blatantly obvious. Health-care providers that offer abortion services would go to the back of the bus for state funding (6/4).

San Jose Mercury News: Community Must Help Those With Mental Illness
More than half of persons housed in the U.S. correctional system have a mental health problem. The correctional system is the number one provider of mental health services in this country. Incarcerated individuals have rates of mental illness that are two to four times greater than the general population. People with mental health needs comprise 56 percent of state, 45 percent of federal, and 64 percent of the jail populations in the United States. As 93 percent of incarcerated people return home, we need to plan for their care and successful reintegration (Bonnie Sultan, 6/3).

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