KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: N.Y. Times Slams Vinson Ruling As WSJ, Wash Post Parse It; Violence In Hospitals; Bending Health Cost Curve

The New York Times: Judicial Activism On Health Reform
A ruling by a Federal District Court judge in Florida that the entire health care reform law is unconstitutional was a breathtaking example of judicial activism and overreach. It is hard not to believe this decision was driven at least in part by ideology. At one point the judge, Roger Vinson, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, gives a gratuitous bow to Tea Party conservatives by citing the original Boston Tea Party in a discussion of opposition to unlimited governmental powers  (2/1).

The Wall Street Journal: The Nuts And Bolts Of The ObamaCare Ruling
The Obama administration attempted to cloak an unprecedented and unsupportable exercise of federal power in the guise of a run-of-the-mill Commerce Clause regulation. When the weakness of that theory was exposed, it retreated to the Necessary and Proper Clause and the taxing power. Judge Vinson's decisive rejection of all these theories is another significant victory for individual liberty-the ultimate purpose of federalism-and it lays the intellectual groundwork for every decision on the mandate yet to come (Randy E. Barnett and Elizabeth Price Foley, 2/2).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Yes! ObamaCare Is Unconstitutional
Vinson laid out his ruling eloquently - masterfully deconstructing the Obama Administration's arguments in support of the law one by one. He was careful to point out that his ruling was not about the health care policy implications of the law; but was based instead on the "very important issues regarding the Constitutional role of the federal government"; in a word, federalism (Bob Barr, 2/2).

The Washington Post's Wonkbook blog: The Policy Questions Behind The Legal Questions
The argument conservatives are making right now is that the individual mandate regulates "economic inactivity." That's not a description anyone had heard of it back when conservatives were co-sponsoring bills with the individual mandate, and it's not what the policy's creator had in mind when he developed it. But that doesn't make it untrue (Ezra Klein, 2/1).

The Arizona Republic: Politics Stifling Health-Care Discussion
President Barack Obama says he doesn't want to "relitigate" health care. The Republicans want to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But they don't have the votes to repeal it, and the patchwork of reforms they propose as a replacement don't add up to the system of universal coverage the American people are looking for. I would prefer a system of individual-based health insurance with the federal government providing a broader safety net through Medicaid to ensure universal coverage. But there are other alternatives. None of them, however, will be discussed (Robert Robb, 2/2). 


McClatchy / Dallas Morning News: A Way To Start Curbing Medical Costs
President Barack Obama extended an olive branch to Republicans last week, and they should take him up on it. Never mind that the president and congressional Democrats rebuffed them on reforming malpractice laws during last year's health care debate. Obama made a point during his State of the Union address of saying that he would entertain improving malpractice laws as a way to control health care costs (2/1).

USA Today: Violence Is Symptom Of Health Care Dysfunction 
Sometimes the simplest approaches are the most effective. Rather than adding security or installing metal detectors to prevent hospital violence, doctors and nurses could do a better job of empathizing with patients who are under stress when they are hospitalized or are angry because they've waited hours for medical care. At the same time, patients must realize that health care professionals are doing the best they can with an overtaxed health care system and should never resort to violence or abuse (Dr. Kevin Pho, 2/1). 

(Minneapolis) Star Tribune: State GOP's Cuts Target The Vulnerable
Republican leaders are on the verge of ramming through legislation that will cut state funding for the treatment and protection of Minnesota's most vulnerable children. ... Let's be clear: Making these cuts permanent without these federal dollars will result in real cuts to crucial programs. In this case, it will force already overstretched county social workers to spend less time with children facing neglect or abuse and require counties to cut back on mental health care for underinsured families (State Sen. Linda Berglin, 2/1).

The Seattle Times: Washington State Must Bend Trend Lines On Health Care Costs
Our state also offers a health-care plan for low-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid. ... Gov. Gregoire's 2011-13 budget proposal eliminates it entirely. If lawmakers choose to retain the (Basic Health Plan), they should adopt requirements to target enrollment and assure better care. We recommend requiring enrollees in the subsidized BHP to complete a health assessment, which would allow for better case management, preventive care and increased patient responsibility (Richard Davis, 2/1).


The Sacramento Bee: Justice Kennedy Could Decide Fate Of Health Reform
The tally's now two for and two against in court rulings on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, signed by President Barack Obama in March. If you thought the ruling by a U.S. District Court judge in Virginia in December was sweeping, take a look at this latest ruling coming from a federal judge in Florida (2/1). 

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