Viewpoints: ‘Imaginary’ Mandates, Premium Hikes, Medicare Leadership
The Wall Street Journal: Judge Sutton's Imaginary Mandate
Liberals are taking a victory lap since a federal appeals court upheld President Obama's health care plan last week, but not so fast. This is an idiosyncratic and flawed opinion, and we trust the Supreme Court, however it rules, will hold itself to a higher standard of jurisprudential reasoning (7/5).
The New York Times: Think Inside The Box
After 33 years of deliberation, last month the Food and Drug Administration announced rules requiring manufacturers to clarify how well sunscreens protect against UVB and UVA radiation - in other words, how well they actually work. Next, the agency could help consumers understand something far more important: how well a prescription drug actually work (Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, 7/4).
Los Angeles Times: Avastin Debate: Science Vs. Emotion
The debate over whether federal regulators should allow Avastin to be marketed as a breast cancer treatment has been characterized as a battle between science and emotion. On one side stands a Food and Drug Administration appeals panel that urged the agency last week to rescind its approval of the drug's use against advanced breast cancer, citing clinical studies that showed no improvement in a patient's chances of survival or quality of life. On the other is a group of women who told the panel at a hearing that they'd be dead if not for Avastin (7/5).
Los Angeles Times: Health Insurance: Halting Arbitrary Premium Hikes
A [Calif.] bill to let state regulators block unreasonable health insurance premium hikes is running into a potential roadblock in the Senate Health Committee. At a hearing last week, Chairman Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), an optometrist, said he was concerned that the bill would make it harder for the poorest Californians to obtain medical care. That's the California Medical Assn.'s critique, and it mischaracterizes how rate regulation would work (7/5).
Sacramento Bee: Senate Must Step Up For Health Rate Review
California's health insurance companies continue to squawk about a bill that would require them to justify rate increases and give state officials authority to deny unreasonable increases. Assembly Bill 52, by Assemblymen Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, comes up for a key vote at Wednesday's Senate Health Committee meeting. It's time for California's state senators to stand up for the same kind of reasonable rate review and approval process that other states have (7/5).
Dallas Morning News: Hard-Headed Stances On Debt Ceiling Leave little Room For Deal
This is how we live in the real world. Washington, at least the part occupied by Congress and the president, seems less and less real with each new my-way-or-no-way battle to the death. The latest is the scrap over raising the nation's debt ceiling, a vital decision that seems very far removed from Main Street or your street. Some recent polling shows that fewer than one in five Americans believe Congress should increase the debt limit from the $14.3 trillion we've long since passed. The problem, which only now is starting to sink in for many of us, is that failure to raise the ceiling means a choice between absolutely bad options: stop paying creditors holding U.S. debt or cut spending so drastically that Social Security, Medicare and military checks are among the immediate casualties (7/1).
Des Moines Register: Leave Mystery Shoppers To GAO, Mr. President
Finding out the truth sometimes requires deception. The Obama administration knows this. It proposed doing some mystery shopping of its own on health care by having people pose as patients to see if they could get an appointment with a doctor. ... A U.S. Department on Health and Human Services official told us the goal was to better understand whether people have access to primary care. The next day, however, an official e-mailed us that the administration was backing away from the proposal. Secret shopping is not a bad idea. It is right for the government to find out how potential patients are being treated, particularly on something as important as health care and particularly when taxpayers foot much of the cost of Medicare and Medicaid (7/4).
Buffalo News: Leadership Missing On Medicare
"Thank you Sens. Lieberman and Coburn for your ideas on how to preserve Medicare. It is one of the more critical issues of the day and, while your proposals may or may not be adopted, they are responsible and in line with the challenges ahead." That's what Democrats should have said to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., when they proposed cost-saving reforms to the program. Instead, Democratic leaders responded with words like "a bad idea" and "unacceptable." That might be good politics, but it has nothing to do with leadership. ... To be sure, there are problems with the proposal, but there are also much worse problems in doing nothing, which is the Democrats' preference (7/5).
Detroit Free Press: U.S. House Has Modern Answer To Medicare Problem
To avoid bankruptcy without modernizing the (Medicare) program means immediately slashing benefits to current recipients by at least 17 percent, or raising the total taxes in each paycheck in America by at least 24 percent to pay for it, or raising the premium that most seniors pay to see their doctors - currently set at $115.40 per month without reforms - by more than $3,000 per month, or some combination of all three. This will clearly hurt current beneficiaries and still risks causing the program to disappear by the time our children need it. Unlike the Senate Democrats, the Republican House is planning for future generations, not just future elections. I want to be sure that your family and mine will be able to get Medicare benefits, too, and that current beneficiaries will see no changes (Rep. Bill Huizenga, 7/3).
San Francisco Chronicle: Rising Political Challenge To Abortion Rights
The recent congressional fight over whether to defund Planned Parenthood was merely the highest-profile struggle over reproductive rights in the United States. For Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, preserving a woman's right to abortion is a daily battle that has been escalating at the state level. By her count, 469 "anti-choice bills were introduced" in state legislatures this year. Last year there were 175. Restrictions range from waiting periods to parental notification requirements to requiring women to view ultrasounds of their fetuses before obtaining abortions (7/3).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Misguided War On Planned Parenthood
Not long ago, a prominent religious leader told Star Tribune Editorial Board members in an informal conversation that Planned Parenthood is the "face of abortion" in this country. He said he supported Republican-led national efforts to cut Title X funding to the organization, even though federal law bars those funds from being used for abortions. Unfortunately, that kind of shortsighted ideological zeal is paying off for social conservatives. Planned Parenthood plans to close six Minnesota clinics on Aug. 1 because of federal budget cuts. None of the clinics provided abortions. So who will pay the price for the antiabortion ideologues' crippling of Planned Parenthood (7/4).
The Arizona Republic: Everyone Benefits If Workers Don't Smoke
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 443,000 smoking-related deaths occur nationwide each year. Yet, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that here in Arizona nearly 16 percent of the adult population smokes cigarettes. Equally alarming, they report that 105,000 kids younger than 18 in Arizona will die prematurely from smoking. After 20 years of providing health benefits in Arizona and advocating wellness and healthy lifestyles, it's clear that companies like Humana need to do more to persuade our youth to stay away from cigarettes. Now we believe it's time to lead by example (Charles Cox, 7/2).