KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Next Step After Health Law Repeal Effort; Refuting ‘Job-Killing’ Claims; Mental Health Care

Politico: Defund 'Obamacare': The Next Step
The continuing resolution that extended funding for the federal government until Mar. 4 gives us an opportunity to include language in the appropriations that fund the rest of this fiscal year - and must be passed to avoid a government shutdown. The language would prohibit any funds from being used to implement or enforce Obamacare (Rep. Steve King, 1/18). 

USA Today: Our View On Health Law: Calling It A 'Job Killer' Doesn't Make It So
The evidence that the medical care reform law will be a job-killer is slim to none. While there is no shortage of rosy or pessimistic assessments produced by groups on either side of this debate, the few independent studies of the law's impact on jobs have offered up resounding shrugs. ... Slapping the "job killing" label on the repeal bill is an effort to avoid making tough decisions and coming up with better ideas (1/17). 

USA Today: Opposing View On Health Law: High Labor Costs = Fewer Jobs
Most people intuitively know that the worst thing government can do in the middle of the deepest recession in 70 years is enact policies that increase the expected cost of labor. Yet that is exactly what happened last spring, with the passage of the health care reform bill (John C. Goodman, 1/17).  

The New York Times: The War on Logic
the G.O.P. also claims that $115 billion of other health care spending should be charged to health reform, even though the budget office has tried to explain that most of this spending would have taken place even without reform. To be sure, the Republican analysis doesn't rely entirely on spurious attributions of cost - it also relies on using three-card monte tricks to make money disappear (Paul Krugman, 1/16). 

San Jose Mercury News: Honest Debate About Health Care Reform Would Be Welcome
Nothing would serve the nation better than a healthy dose of truth telling from both parties, something that has been sadly lacking in this ferocious political debate. House Speaker John Boehner should begin by admitting the fallacy of his contention that repealing the health care law would not add billions to the deficit. … Obama, for his part, should acknowledge that a health care overhaul won't be complete until the nation addresses its out-of-control medical costs, which Democrats have yet to do in a concrete form (1/17).

The Fiscal Times: Health Care Brawl: All or Nothing Doesn't Work
Recently enacted health care reform has hundreds of pieces, some better than others, and both the old system and the partially reformed new system need major repairs. Congress always regulates what it subsidizes; the real question is how to regulate best. And the individual mandate - requiring the uninsured to purchase coverage - is only one piece of the system of requirements that must be made to fit together (Eugene Steuerle, 1/18).

The Baltimore Sun: Repeal Would Dash Hopes To Reduce Disparities 
Even the prospect of "chipping away" at key elements of health care reform - as some congressional leaders have vowed to do - would damage the new law's potential for addressing longstanding racial and ethnic health inequalities. But in addition to the social justice consequences of perpetuating these inequalities, there are strong fiscal reasons why policymakers should want to keep health care reform in place (Brian D. Smedley and John E. McDonough, 1/18).

Los Angeles Times: High-Tech Healthcare Reform
The new healthcare law provides incentives to use new medical devices. We should try to build on that spirit, not repeal the reform law (1/17). 

The Wall Street Journal: Unexpected Limits Of New, Free Preventive Care
With growing concern that Americans aren't getting the preventive care they need, a provision in the new health law requires Medicare and new health policies to fully cover 45 preventive screenings and services. ... This should boost the number of people receiving preventive care. But many patients don't take advantage of such services, and many doctors don't routinely offer them, even though in many cases existing health plans cover all or part of the cost (Laura Landro, 1/18). 

Kaiser Health News: A Defense Of High-Risk Insurance Pools – From One Critic To The Others
From the beginning, I've been a persistent, occasionally grouchy critic of the high-risk insurance pools set up in the new federal health law. The title of my recent commentary in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, "Too Little And Thus Too Late," summarized my general view. I'm not retracting any of these tough assessments. Yet I'm not alone in noticing the ironic partisan tinge to the criticisms now being leveled at this program (Harold Pollack, 1/17). 

The Washington Post: The Mental-Health 'System' That Brought Us The Tucson Tragedy
The mental health system performed much as we have designed it over the past 40 years, ever since the courts and state legislatures adopted "a danger to themselves or others" as the standard for taking action against those showing signs of a mental illness that might lead to violence. ... Some people did see danger. Some people did act. But the "system" we have constructed - a patchwork of laws that vary by state - tolerates the odd, the strange, even the disruptive ravings of a Jared Loughner (Steve Luxenberg, 1/18). 

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Loughner Needed A Doctor
Health care has often been thought of as the problem in recent years: too error-prone, too costly, too inaccessible. But sometimes health care is the solution. … The reality is that we do know what could have helped this apparently disturbed young man and maybe even prevented this tragic, senseless loss: a doctor. Loughner needed a primary-care doctor who worried about and took responsibility for his health, including his mental health (Dr. Katrina Armstrong, 1/18). 
The Washington Post: Global Vaccine Efforts Offer Hope To Millions 
Many global problems are desperate but seem beyond our ability to comprehend or resolve. Sufficient support for [the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization] from governments, foundations and individuals would solve much of the problem it is tackling. The answer for millions of dying children does not need to be invented, studied or tested (Michael Gerson, 1/18). 

San Francisco Chronicle: Review Blue Shield's Unhealthy Rate Increases
We cannot imagine the reasons for Blue Shield of California to justify a rate increase of up to 59 percent…The insurance industry claims that rate regulation won't solve the underlying problem of increasing medical care costs, and they may be right - but they need to make their case instead of simply hiking rates year after year. Consumers deserve explanations (1/18).

Los Angeles Times: Some Teeth For Dave Jones
Health insurer Blue Shield says it won't comply with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' request to delay its latest double-digit rate increase until May. ... With luck, the company's defiance will prompt Sacramento to give Jones some real authority over health insurance premiums (1/18). 

The Arizona Republic: 'Death Panel' Label Offends Adams
Eliminating life-saving surgeries from our most vulnerable citizens really should be the "last thing" the Legislature does. And lawmakers should do so only after every other possible budget cut or funding source has been investigated (E. J. Montini, 1/18).

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