KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Health Law Repeal; Individual Mandate; Essential Benefits Package; Arizona Transplant Program

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Repeal Hardly A Panacea For CEO's Concerns 
If the government fails, then costs will rise inexorably. Nothing in the law guarantees success: The law embodies almost every idea anyone has offered and hopes a couple of them will work. No wonder executives are skeptical. But here's the question: Would repeal in the current political climate be followed by more muscular restraints on health-care costs? Or weaker ones? (David Wessel, 1/13).

McClatchy/The Kansas City Star: Here's A Plan To Replace Obama's Health Care Law
This week, the new Republican majority in the House will vote to repeal Obamacare. The vote will be largely symbolic. … Yet the exercise will raise the question: Republicans want to "repeal and replace," but replace with what? A concept rapidly gaining traction in Republican circles borrows from a trend in the private sector, and is explored in detail in Rep. Paul Ryan's "Road Map for America's Future" (E. Thomas McClanahan, 1/13).

New England Journal of Medicine: The Importance of the Individual Mandate - Evidence from Massachusetts
The larger subsidies in Massachusetts would be expected to have a greater effect in inducing healthy people to obtain insurance than the ACA's smaller subsidies - which suggests that mandating coverage might well play an even larger role in encouraging the healthy to participate in health insurance markets nationally than it has in Massachusetts (Amitabh Chandra, Jonathan Gruber and Robin McKnight, 1/12).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Is Choice Of Physician And Hospital An Essential Benefit?
What is an essential benefit package? One definition is a package that covers anything a physician and patient want, regardless of whether there is clinical evidence to support its use. ... As the definition process moves forward, answers will be needed for questions that may be uncomfortable to discuss openly, such as whether expensive but marginally effective procedures or medicines should be covered. Another issue is whether an essential benefit package should allow patients to choose where and from whom they receive care with no financial consequences of their decision (Dr. Robert H. Brook, 1/12).

The Arizona Republic: Honor The Dead By Saving The Living
A lifelong resident of Arizona, (Michael Allen) Pennington is a 59-year-old architect and builder, a once-vibrant taxpayer who was laid waste by liver disease and now needs a life-saving transplant. He is one of those condemned to die by a Legislature and governor who eliminated such coverage from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (E.J. Montini, 1/13).

The New Republic: The Tucson Shooter and the Case for Involuntary Commitment
A single narrative connects the Unabomber, George Wallace shooter Arthur Bremmer, Reagan shooter John Hinckley, the Virginia Tech shooter-all mentally disturbed loners who needed to be committed and treated against their will. But the law would not permit it. ... We need legal reform to shift the balance in favor of protecting the community (William Galston, 1/11).

The New York Times: Autism Fraud
The report that first triggered scares that a vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella might cause autism in children has received another devastating blow to its credibility. The British Medical Journal has declared that the research was not simply bad science, as has been known for years, but a deliberate fraud (1/12). 

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