KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Celebrating Health Law Anniversary (Or Not); Tricare’s ‘Modest’ Fee Increase; Funding Planned Parenthood

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New Health Care Law Helping Middle-Class Families
Since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law a year ago this month, we've heard endless partisan bickering about repeal efforts, legal challenges and fairness. But we've heard little about how the law is already helping secure the future of all Americans (Donna E. Shalala, 3/19).

Kaiser Health News: What A Difference A Year Makes
[M]any Americans are taking this law personally. ... They watched Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly censor insurers who disagreed with her. ... First the individual mandate was a tax, then it wasn't, then it was. At a certain point, people start to feel insulted (Michael Cannon, 3/21). 

The Kansas City Star: After One Year, Health Care Law Benefits America
Comprehensive health care reform has endured a rocky first year. It's been taken to court, used as a punching bag and threatened with having its allowance taken away. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act remains intact and already is changing health care in positive ways (3/20).

The Baltimore Sun: Obama's Health Care Reform Is Unhealthy For Hospitals
Over the last few months, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has exempted a long list of unions and employers from an Affordable Care Act provision that would have made it too costly for them to continue some of their health care insurance plans. But, in sharp contrast, HHS apparently doesn't intend to do anything at all about a new health reform mandate that could eventually force hundreds of badly needed U.S. hospitals to shut their doors (John D. Hartigan, 3/19).

The Washington Post: Asking Military Retirees To Pay A Bit More For Health Care Is Reasonable
"Simply unsustainable." That is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's assessment of the spiraling cost of the health-care system for military personnel, retirees and their families. ... If Congress can't manage the small fee increase that Mr. Gates, backed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is seeking, it can't pretend to be serious about controlling the deficit (3/21).

The Denver Post: Modest Hike In Cost For Tricare
We hope federal lawmakers will look carefully at the suggested increases and see them for what they are: a fair effort to realign Pentagon spending to ensure the military continues to have the money to protect the nation during a time of diminishing resources (3/21). 

CNN: Cut Planned Parenthood's Funding
Sometime the Planned Parenthood Federation of America will have to accept a cut in federal funding. ... Public health departments and free clinics (and even a growing number of pro-life pregnancy care centers) perform low- or no-cost STD testing, and they also routinely refer women for other screenings and services they do not provide directly (Chuck Donovan, 3/19).

San Francisco Chronicle: Health Care Quality Rests On Coordination
How would you like to receive a zero increase in your health insurance premium? Using a model that can be replicated widely thanks to federal health care reform, Northern California health care providers are making that happen right now for tens of thousands of patients. ... Enter the accountable care organization, or ACO. As the name implies, the concept envisions coordinated efforts by insurers, physicians and hospitals in which all assume accountability for lower cost and improved quality, and all are rewarded, as a group, for progress toward both goals (Paul Markovich, 3/19). 

The Sacramento Bee: State Must Get Handle On Health Care Obligations 
Retiree health care costs are rising by double-digit percentages annually because state workers are retiring earlier and living longer, and the cost of health care is rising steeply. ... In most cases, the state pays 100 percent of a retiree's health premium and 90 percent for a retiree's eligible dependent, compared with 80 to 85 percent for current workers and their dependents. That needs to end. California can't afford it  (3/21).

San Francisco Chronicle: Want Enduring Health Reform? Invest In Education
So how can our society afford to sustain this hard-fought reduction in the number of uninsured? The most enduring solution lies beyond our ongoing health reform debates: investing in improved education for disadvantaged children (William H. Dow, 3/20).  

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