KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Consumers Awakening To Health Law’s ‘Perverse Incentives;’ Medicaid Expansion Could Help Dems In Mid-Term Elections; New ‘Devious Tactic’ In Smoking

The Wall Street Journal: The ObamaCare Carnival Of Perverse Incentives
With fewer glitches to deter them, millions of Americans are now logging on to the ObamaCare health-insurance-exchange websites. When they get there, many are discovering some unpleasant surprises: The deductibles are higher than what most people are used to, the networks of doctors and hospitals are skimpier (in some cases much skimpier), and lifesaving drugs are often not on the insurers' formularies. Even after the government's income-based subsidies are taken into account, the premiums are often higher than what people previously paid (John C. Goodman, 1/23). 

The Washington Post's The Plum Line: Why The Medicaid Expansion Matters So Much To Dems
With Democrats on defense across the board in Senate races, their hopes in 2014 could rest heavily on their ability to turn out their base — which is to say, voters who are less likely to go to the polls in midterm elections. ... One thing that could play a key role in that effort: the Medicaid expansion (Greg Sargent, 1/23). 

Bloomberg: Will Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion Continue?
What are Republican gubernatorial candidates saying about Medicaid expansion in states where Democratic governors have implemented it? ... And the answer? Nada. Zip. Nothing. None of these Republicans is pledging to repeal the Medicaid expansion put in place by a Democratic governor. Indeed, most of them don’t mention Obamacare at all, and only one even mentioned health care. I’m sure that most -- if they want to win a Republican nomination! -- would support Obamacare repeal, if asked. But that’s different from making repeal an actual priority (Jonathan Bernstein, 1/23).

The New York Times' Opinionator: Should Pope Francis Rethink Abortion?
Pope Francis has raised expectations of a turn away from the dogmatic intransigence that has long cast a pall over the religious life of many Roman Catholics. His question "Who am I to judge?" suggested a new attitude toward homosexuality, and he is apparently willing to consider allowing the use of contraceptives to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. But his position on what has come to be the hierarchy's signature issue — abortion — seems unyielding. "Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life," he declared in his recent apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium," adding: "Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question" (Gary Gutting, 1/23). 

The New York Times: Even More Addictive Cigarettes
It was a shock to learn from the latest surgeon general's report that, because of changes in the design and composition of cigarettes, smokers today face a higher risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than smokers in 1964, despite smoking fewer cigarettes. It is equally shocking to learn now that some of today's cigarettes may be more addictive than those smoked in past years, most likely because the manufacturers are designing them to deliver more nicotine to the lungs to induce and sustain addiction. That devious tactic requires a strong response by regulators (1/23). 

The New York Times: Quick Work On Paid Sick Leave
Mayor Bill de Blasio, swiftly delivering on a campaign promise, joined the City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, last week in offering a bill to revise New York City’s law on paid sick leave. Their bill is broader than one that passed last year after much delay and political spatting. It's also better (1/23). 

Tampa Bay Times: Drug Database Needs Privacy Protections
Florida's prescription drug database is a valuable weapon in curbing the public damage from drug-related deaths, narcotics tourism and criminal trafficking. But it should not be used by law enforcement as a stocked pond for fishing expeditions. The Legislature needs to strengthen privacy protections without taking this tool away from law enforcement. And Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has been so concerned about citizens' privacy with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, should see the value in that (1/23).

Los Angeles Times: Mike Huckabee Mansplains Women’s Libidos And Contraception At RNC
I am genuinely starting to feel sorry for the Republican Party, which has become so adept at shooting itself in the foot over women's issues that it should probably put a moratorium on discussing them for a while. The Democrats' accusation that the GOP has waged a "war on women" has so rattled the party that its pooh-bahs cannot think straight. They keep making the same mistakes over and over. Insanity! (Robin Abcarian, 1/23). 

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