KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Employers And Health Benefits; Sen. Pryor’s ACA Endorsement; Waging War On Hep C

The Wall Street Journal: Unemployed By ObamaCare
Most of the political class seems to have decided that ObamaCare is working well enough, the opposition is fading, and the subsidies and regulation are settling in as the latest wing of the entitlement state. This flight from reality can't last forever, especially as the evidence continues to pile up that the law is harming the labor market. On Thursday the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported the results of a special business survey on the Affordable Care Act and its influence on employment, compensation and benefits. Liberals claim ObamaCare is of little consequence to jobs, but the Philly Fed went to the source and asked employers qualitative questions about how they are responding in practice (8/21). 

Bloomberg: Don't Worry About Losing Your Health Care ... Yet
[E]mployees value the health benefits highly enough to trade off a lot of wages for them. For all the talk about how people are insulated from the cost of their insurance, if you follow union negotiations, you’ll know that when it comes to making explicit trade-offs between more expensive benefits and higher wages, the union representatives very frequently choose the benefits. That suggests that as long as employees are afraid of the exchanges, employers are going to be reluctant to force them there. This effect will probably be weakest at the low end, where the workforce is already struggling to find and keep jobs, but among middle-class people with relatively secure employment, I'd expect relatively little dumping in the near- to medium-term (Megan McArdle, 8/21).

The Washington Post’s Plum Line: Can Dems Defend Expanding Coverage To Poor In Red States?
Ever since embattled Dem Senator Mark Pryor went up with a new ad discussing his cancer and touting his vote for the health law as the right thing to do, critics have pointed out that he failed to name the whole law in the spot, so the ad doesn't really count as a full-throated defense of it. I think that’s a silly standard. But it does raise an interesting question: Can Democrats in difficult states stand behind the goal of expanding coverage to poor people? (Greg Sargent, 8/21). 

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Sen. Mark Pryor Spotlights The Health Law's Rx For Pre-Existing Illnesses
Democrats generally are not campaigning on the Affordable Care Act, but in a new campaign ad Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor does just that. Some have commented on the fact that Mr. Pryor does not mention the ACA by name in the ad, referring to it as "a law he helped pass." Just as interesting is the part of the law the ad features: its protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. With all of the focus on the ACA’s rollout problems last fall and the ACA’s coverage expansion, we have not heard much about "pre-x" in some time, but in many respects it's the mega benefit in the law (Drew Altman, 8/21). 

The Star Tribune: Hennepin Health Is Delivering Health Care Innovation
The expansive, not-limited-to-the-doctor’s-office approach taken to improve Johnson’s health is a key reason why the Hennepin Health program is among the nation’s most innovative health reform efforts. Now in its third year, the county-led program, which serves some of the metro’s poorest and sickest patients, keeps delivering impressive results. The latest data released by the program underscored why it continues to accrue accolades and should be looked to as a national model. It's also a reminder that the private sector doesn't have a monopoly on health care innovation (8/21).

The Washington Post: The Cure For Cancer That Parents Won't Use
Not so long ago, when my sons still had smooth cheeks and children's voices, I had them vaccinated against human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease. It was late 2011, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had just recommended that boys join girls in being vaccinated at age 11 or 12. I was certainly receptive: HPV, as it's commonly called, causes cervical cancer, cancer of the tonsils, cancer of the back of the tongue and, less often, cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus and penis. It seemed important to ensure that my kids were protected. Yet numbers released last month by the CDC show that my sons, now 14 and 15, are among a small minority of adolescent males who have been vaccinated (Meredith Wadman, 8/21). 

Bloomberg: Waging War On Hepatitis C
Instead of complaining about how much Sovaldi costs and trying to tamp down its use, why not use the drug to stage a war on hepatitis C? Why not try to get the drug into as many bodies as possible, as fast as possible, with the hope of knocking this horrible disease back down to much lower infection rates? ... The point is, we should be able to come to a deal where we treat more patients, knock down the new infection rate, and give Gilead a nice, fat profit for developing a great drug that saves lives (Megan McArdle, 8/21).

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