KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Access To Abortion In Virginia; Patient Habits And Health Costs; ‘Little States That Couldn’t’

The Washington Post: Virginia’s Governor Moves To Protect Access To Abortion
As a candidate last year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) promised to do what he could to roll back absurd, baldly political rules imposed on the state’s abortion clinics with the transparent purpose of forcing many of them to close. Now Mr. McAuliffe, who took office in January, is taking a step toward fulfilling that promise. If he’s successful, he will preserve access to abortions each year for some 10,000 Virginia women -- many of them minorities -- who otherwise would likely be unable to find nearby clinics to perform the procedure (5/13). 

The Fiscal Times: The Key To Lower Health Care Costs Is In Your Hands
While the coordinated approach strives to improve care by paring unnecessary tests and procedures, it may not save much money or boost health outcomes. A recent large study of medical homes by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there was "no cost savings and only a modest improvement in quality." Although study of coordinated care is still in its infancy, it begs another question: Will institutional change be enough? Won't you have to change patient habits to lower costs? (John F. Wasik, 5/14). 

Bloomberg View: The Little States That Couldn't On Obamacare
I can understand why they’d push big states such as Texas and Florida to build exchanges. But why encourage the District of Columbia, Hawaii and Rhode Island to follow suit? Arithmetically, it was unlikely that any of them would insure enough people to become financially viable -- and certainly not in the time frame called for by the law. Why not quietly point out the terrible math and suggest they go federal? (Megan McArdle, 5/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Michigan Union Collapse
The conceit of the modern union movement is that workers would be clamoring to join if the rules weren't rigged in favor of employers. The reality is closer to the opposite. Witness what happened in Michigan, where new data show that workers fled the Service Employees International Union Healthcare affiliate when their membership was no longer coerced. Democrats gave the SEIU a huge membership gift in 2005 when then-Governor Jennifer Granholm allowed more than 40,000 home-care workers to be unionized. The majority of the workers were independent contractors or family members who care for disabled relatives at home. But because the workers received Medicaid subsidies, they were suddenly reclassified as "public" employees for the purposes of unionization (5/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer And The Protectionists
The case for free trade was born in Britain, but you'd hardly know it considering the response to American pharmaceutical Pfizer's billion takeover bid for London-based AstraZeneca. As soon as news of the offer became public last month, trade unionists, Labour Party members and the usual media suspects began warning of jobs cuts, delayed drug development and the loss of a national scientific asset. An anti-merger campaign launched by Unite, the country's largest trade union, calls Pfizer "the wrong prescription for Britain." In a letter to Parliament on Monday, the Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse said Pfizer represents a "potential threat" to the "strength of our life sciences sector, and thus to our national economic interest" (5/13).

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