KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints On Health Law: Concerns About ‘Lake Wobegon-ization’ Of Medicare Advantage; Romney’s Efforts To Raise Fears

The Washington Post: Medicare's $8 Billion Advantage
One of the significant reforms in the health-care law was to put private Medicare plans on a more equal footing with the traditional government program. ... But the immediate sting of the cuts was significantly lessened by the Obama administration's move to expand and speed up a program to pay bonuses to high-performing programs. ... Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided — in the biggest such "demonstration project"  it has ever undertaken — to make bonus payments available to plans with three or more stars and increase the size of bonuses this year and next. Think of it as the Lake Wobegon-ization of Medicare Advantage (4/27).

Columbus Dispatch: Pilot Project Another Pile Of Politics
We now have another unsavory example of how government-controlled health means politicized health care. ... It's no surprise that Medicare's most market-focused program pushes down premiums and pushes up enrollment. So rather than allow millions of enrollees in swing states, such as Florida, to experience a benefit cut right before an election, the administration founded an $8.5 billion pilot program. This year, for example, the program offsets about 70 percent of the cuts in Advantage. The cost will be paid from the Medicare trust fund (which had a $288.3 billion shortfall this year). The consequences will be put off until after the election (David Harsanyi, 4/28).

Des Moines Register: Obama Disappoints On Health Reform
The Register’s editorial page has criticized Republicans who seek to repeal or nullify the so-called "Obamacare." But the Obama administration deserves scolding, too, for the way it is implementing parts of the law. The president's staff has botched some important provisions. The president should stand up for the law and do what a majority in Congress intended. Instead, he appears to be pandering to critics and trying to pacify senior voters (4/28).

Los Angeles Times: Mitt Romney Stays Put
(Mitt Romney) signed onto the tea party's portrayal of Obama as a secret socialist, with health insurance at the center of the plot. "With Obamacare fully installed," he warned, "government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free-enterprise society." That's right: Obamacare, which relies mostly on free-enterprise health insurance companies, is going to usher in Marxism's red dawn. (The arithmetic's a little dubious, though; to reach 50%, the Romneyites count all health expenditures, including private insurance and doctor bills, as "under federal control.") (Doyle McManus, 4/29).

The Wall Street Journal: A Choice, Not An Echo 
If the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, Congress and whoever is president in January will have to rethink what to do next. Congress and the president should reorganize the health-care system to give people more choice, spur more innovation, and drive down the costs of health care. Rep. Paul Ryan's plan that is already before the House would get things going in the right direction (Pete Du Pont, 4/29).

Des Moines Register: Freedom To Fear And Need Is Here
According to the Supreme Court majority, we can't prevent anyone from carrying a gun into a school, church or Fourth of July picnic. And we can't stop billionaires from buying up our system of democracy by the board foot, shoveling unlimited amounts of money into Super PACs, which then buy vicious ads aimed at their favorite candidate's opponent. And now it looks like we can’t provide health care insurance to people in our society who need but can't afford it (Donald Kaul, 4/29).

JAMA: Mitt Romney On Health Care: No, We Can't
Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, it is worth paying more attention to his health care proposals. Governor Romney has said many things about health care—mostly negative. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cut Medicaid, and fundamentally restructure Medicare. For the privately insured, he pushes a vision where employers are less involved in insurance and government support is reduced. The philosophical principles of the Romney plan are profound and worrying (David M. Cutler, 4/27).

Roll Call: Health Care Overhaul Is Wrong for Families
President Barack Obama promised, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," but the facts now say otherwise. With the government takeover of health care beginning to take effect, it now seems millions of families will be forced to find health care elsewhere when the big-government law applies its mandates and fees. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as 20 million people will be forced from their health insurance plans as the 2010 law takes full effect. This represents an enormous broken promise (Maggie Brooks, Kim Vann and Jackie Walorski, 4/30). 

Arizona Republic: Repealing 'Obamacare' Would Be Bad For All Of Us
What will happen if the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") is ruled unconstitutional or repealed by Congress? It will have a negative impact on nearly every American. Two hundred million Americans with private health insurance will again have to worry that their insurance may be canceled if they have a serious and expensive-to-treat illness, or that their benefits will be cut off if they exceed an annual or lifetime limit (James E. Dalen, 4/28).

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