Viewpoints: Walmart And Obamacare; Negative Views Continue Of Health Law; Ebola Preparedness
The Washington Post’s The Plum Line: How Walmart Is Showing That Obamacare Is Working
Walmart announced today that as of the beginning of next year it will be dropping health insurance for 30,000 employees who work less than 30 hours per week. Many liberals will react to the news by saying that it's just a profit-hungry corporation once again screwing over its employees. Conservatives are likely to say that this just shows what a mess Obamacare has created and why it should be repealed (Paul Waldman, 10/8).
Bloomberg: Wal-Mart's Good News (Maybe) For Obamacare
Wal-Mart's decision to stop paying for health insurance for employees who work less than 30 hours a week may sound like bad news, especially for those 30,000 workers and their families. But it could become good news -- for those families and everyone else -- if it generates pressure to deal with Obamacare's unfinished business. ... Some part-time Wal-Mart workers will find themselves with no good options. If they live in states that decided not to expand Medicaid, they may fall into what's called the coverage gap: earning too little to qualify for exchange subsidies but too much to qualify for Medicaid (10/9).
The Wall Street Journal: Challenges For The Next Obamacare Open Enrollment
If the Congressional Budget Office is close to the mark, in the second open-enrollment season we will see about a doubling of the 7 million people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces. Open enrollment, which begins Nov. 15, is three months this year, or half as long as last year, and the remaining eligible uninsured are a more difficult-to-reach population. Here are the biggest challenges this time around: First, the overwhelming reason the remaining uninsured cite as to why they have not already gotten coverage is that they believe they could not afford it. The message that most needs to reach the uninsured is that there are tax credits available to help make coverage more affordable. ... Second, the uninsured need to know that the penalty for going without coverage increases substantially next year, to $325 per person or 2% of income (whichever is greater) (Drew Altman, 10/9).
The Washington Post's Right Turn: The GOP's Post-Election Obamacare Strategy
Gallup reports that in the short term, most Americans think Obamacare has hurt more than helped: "Americans overall are both more positive and more negative about the law's effect on themselves and their families. Since the start of this year, the percentage saying the law has helped them has increased from 10% to 16%, while the percentage saying it has hurt them has also gone up, and by a similar amount, from 19% to 27%." The long-term effects get a similar response: "Forty-six percent say the law will make things worse in the long run, while 36% say it will make things better and 15% say it will not make much difference." Gallup concludes, "Even though the healthcare law appears to have lowered the U.S. uninsured rate, Americans’ views toward the law overall and its effect on the U.S. healthcare situation in the long run continue to be more negative than positive" (Jennifer Rubin, 10/8).
Bloomberg: To Know Obamacare Is To Love It?
A Gallup poll released today confirms what anyone paying attention knows: The Affordable Care Act's successes aren't changing negative views on "Obamacare," including what people report about their personal experiences with health care. Yet the very characteristics that make Obamacare unpopular make the ACA safe from repeal. ... Another reason for the bad feeling is that there's little reason for most consumers to connect health care benefits that they like with a law passed more than four years ago. For example: How many young people who are able to stay on their parents’ insurance know they have Obamacare to thank? How many people with (private!) insurance purchased through an exchange -- either state exchanges such as Kynect or Covered California or the federal Healthcare.gov -- know that those plans are part of "Obamacare"? How many people in expanded Medicaid know they are receiving Obamacare? (Jonathan Bernstein, 10/8).
Bloomberg: Order The Oysters, Pay For Waiter's Health Care
An article in the Los Angeles Times this week described how some of the city's top foodie destinations are beginning to impose a surcharge on patron checks to help cover the cost of providing health insurance to their employees .... the surcharge is already drawing complaints from the left. That’s no surprise either, because many liberals would rather live in blissful ignorance of Obamacare’s impact on consumers than confront the fact that the law has costs. This is a central tension for many supporters of Obamacare: They support the purported benefits of the law, so long as costs are passed to others, not to themselves (Lanhee Chen, 10/8).
Charlotte Observer: New Hope For Deal On Medicaid
Good news for the hundreds of thousands of truck drivers, janitors, day-care attendants, fast-food servers and other low-income workers in North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature may soon reconsider their long-standing opposition to Medicaid expansion. Aldona Wos, the state Health and Human Services secretary, told the Observer editorial board Wednesday that with some flexibility from the federal government on how things are structured, a half-million or so state residents could become newly eligible for health insurance (10/8).
The New York Times' The Upshot: Medicaid, Often Criticized, Is Quite Popular With Its Customers
Low-income people in three Southern states were recently asked whether they preferred Medicaid or private insurance. Guess which one they picked? (Margot Sanger-Katz, 10/9).
The New York Times: Ebola Screening At The Airports
Travelers entering the United States who have been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the center of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, will be subjected to temperature checks and questioning when they reach five American airports under new procedures announced on Wednesday by top government officials. The screening will add another layer of security to backstop the screenings already being conducted before passengers are allowed to board planes leaving their home countries (10/8).
Los Angeles Times: Effort To Prevent Panic Over Ebola Went Too Far
In their early attempts to prevent panic in the United States, government officials spoke too quickly and with too much assurance when they told Americans not to worry about the Ebola virus crossing the country's borders. ... Preventing unnecessary anxiety is good, but not if it means failing to address valid concerns. Now the president and the CDC must consider not only which safety measures to invoke and when, but how to rebuild trust with the American public (10/8).
The Washington Post: Ebola Can't Be Fought By Sealing Off The United States
The death of Thomas Duncan in Dallas from Ebola virus is a sobering reminder that we live in a world more connected and fluid than at any time in human history. The Ebola virus and other deadly pathogens can accompany people from one point on the globe to another in a matter of hours — and attempts to identify and stop carriers of the disease won't always work, in part because of long incubation periods. Viruses and bacteria do not stop at passport control (10/8).
The Wall Street Journal: The Ebola Democrats
Frantic to hold the Senate, Democrats are now claiming Republicans are pro-Ebola—really. Anything is better than having to defend White House competence or even the adequacy of the public-health response, though this election debate would benefit from a fact or two. Here’s a heavy-rotation TV spot from Arkansas incumbent Mark Pryor against his GOP opponent: "Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola. Congressman Cotton voted to cut billions from our nation’s medical disaster and emergency programs. . . . Instead, Cotton voted for tax cuts for billionaires funding his campaign, rather than protecting our families" (10/8).
The Washington Post: Texas's Sham Abortion Law Offers A Cautionary Tale For Other States
Three years ago, more than 70,000 women obtained abortions in Texas, most of them performed at the 46 legal clinics scattered around the state. Mishaps were exceedingly rare, and there was no evidence of any systematic lapse or abuse that endangered the health of women who sought the procedure. Nonetheless, under the pretext of protecting women’s health, activists and lawmakers who drove through one of the nation’s most draconian antiabortion laws have now achieved a stunning victory in Texas (10/8).
USA Today: Abortion Safety As A Pretext: Our View
States have every obligation to ensure that abortions are performed safely. But when states use safety as a pretext to put providers out of business, they make abortion riskier for all women and deny some a right guaranteed four decades ago. Last week, Texas became the most populous state where the right to an abortion has become almost meaningless for many women. Texas had 41 clinics last year. Today it has eight, after the state imposed onerous regulations that require costly renovations and force providers to affiliate with hospitals (10/8).
USA Today: Safety Standards Don't Close Clinics: Opposing View
You probably don't know Karnamaya Mongar's name. Certainly the abortion industry would rather we forget her. The mother and Bhutan refugee died after visiting Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic in 2009. Karnamaya was a small woman who had survived the brutal conditions of a Nepal refugee camp. But she did not survive the calloused conditions of the 21st century American abortion industry (Charmaine Yoest, 10/8).
The New York Times’ Taking Note: Home Care Workers Still Waiting On Fair Wages
Home care workers have waited 40 years for the Labor Department to correct a regulation from 1974 that deemed them "companions," and thus not entitled to the minimum wage or overtime pay. President Obama made their cause his own in December 2011, when he pledged to issue new rules to end the companionship mislabeling; nearly two years later, in September 2013, his Labor Department finally followed through with new rules to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015. But on Tuesday, caving to political and industry pressure, the department decided to delay enforcing the rule for up to one year (Teresa Tritch, 10/8).
The New York Times’ The Upshot: Men Dominate List of Doctors Receiving Largest Payments From Drug Companies
Few women are on the list of doctors paid the most money by drug and medical device companies last year, according to a ProPublica analysis of new data released by the federal government. ... What we found adds to a growing body of evidence that male and female doctors are paid differently and may in fact practice medicine differently, though the reasons for the discrepancy are not completely clear (Charles Ornstein, 10/8).
Arizona Republic: Dying By Her Own Hand -- With Grace
A person should not have to move out of state to do what 29-year-old Brittany Maynard is doing -- taking her own life. She has terminal brain cancer. She and her family studied all the possible options and she decided -- reluctantly she said -- to move from the San Francisco Bay Area home to Oregon, one of five states (including Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico) that authorize death with dignity. Could you do it? Would you want to have the option to do it? (EJ Montini, 10/8).
The New England Journal Of Medicine: National Health Spending in 2014 — Acceleration Delayed
Although there is still considerable uncertainty, the CMS projection of 9 million newly insured adults seems consistent with recent evidence. This increase in coverage should push the health spending growth rate up toward 5%. ... Although 2014 may be yet another year in which health spending grows more slowly than expected, the anemic economic recovery suggests that near-term pressures to control health spending will remain strong (Charles Roehrig, 10/7).