KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Private Vs. Public Medicare; N.J. Medicaid Tough Choices; IPAB’s Cost Controls

The New York Times: Medicare Saves Money
Every once in a while a politician comes up with an idea that's so bad, so wrongheaded, that you're almost grateful. For really bad ideas can help illustrate the extent to which policy discourse has gone off the rails. And so it was with Senator Joseph Lieberman's proposal, released last week, to raise the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 (Paul Krugman, 6/12).

Des Moines Register: Privatization Does Not Shore Up The Medicare Program 
Keeping the 1965 promise this country made to seniors is expensive. Though more steps will need to be taken to control spending and fund the program, the health reform law is a step in the right direction. Privatization is not (6/11). 

Des Moines Register: Politicians Are Worlds Apart On Tackling Medicare
The health reform law signed last year by President Barack Obama makes significant changes to Medicare that will reduce spending by more than $400 billion over the next 10 years and generate nearly $90 billion to help shore up the hospital trust fund. Not a single Republican voted for this legislation. It is crucial the law be fully implemented in the coming years to improve the long-term solvency of Medicare (6/11).

Helena Independent Record: Keep Medicare And Social Security Strong
Many in Congress are considering harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of a plan to raise America's debt ceiling and reduce the federal budget deficit. Currently, there are a variety of proposals on the table that would place "across-the board" arbitrary limits on federal spending. This could trigger cuts to Social Security and Medicare - which may dramatically increase out-of-pocket health care costs and reduce Social Security checks for our nation's seniors (Joy Bruck, 6/13). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Obama's Health Care Plan Is Snagged By Courts
Now that Gov. Mark Dayton has dutifully expanded Minnesota's Medicaid program, he's quickly moving to implement the rest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact, the Dayton administration is using a $1 million federal grant to quickly get the state's health insurance "exchange" up and running. But a funny thing is happening on the road to Obamacare -- federal judges are getting in the way (Jason Lewis, 6/11).

Detroit Free Press: Ending Medicare As We Know It
Over the course of their working lives, an American couple earning the median household income will pay about $140,000 into Medicare; after turning 65, the same couple will collect, on average, more than three times that much in Medicare benefits. You don't need a Ph.D. in actuarial science to recognize that this is unsustainable, especially as the ratio of retirees to workers grows. So far, though, neither major party has advanced an alternative that will preserve seniors' access to quality health care without bankrupting the country (6/11). 

Kaiser Health News: A Health Policy Reality Check (Guest Opinion) 
When the Republican House voted earlier this year to repeal the health law, their slogan was "repeal and replace." Last month, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., admitted the House would offer no replacement. ... Two final questions: Do any Republicans still believe in the goal of universal coverage? What is the basis for moving forward together from here? (John McDonough, 6/12).

Kaiser Health News: On Political Expediency And Health Care Reform 
When (Rep. Paul) Ryan and his colleagues unveiled their budget plan in April, the president had a choice. He could work with his adversaries to find common ground on budget and health policy matters, or he could eschew bipartisan compromise and attempt to defeat them politically. He made his choice, and so the battle is on (James C. Capretta, 6/12). 

CNN Money: Death Panel? No-A Promising Way To Control Health Costs
Ultimately, in a country struggling mightily with unaffordable health care costs now, and destined to struggle even more in the future, IPAB is one of the institutions that gives some hope that if we figure out how to control costs, we just might be able to put that knowledge to use (Joshua Gordon, 6/13).  

Forbes: Gov. Chris Christie Says: Earn $6,000 A Year? No Medicaid For You!
If you live in the state of New Jersey and are earning $118 a week, congratulations! According to Gov. Chris Christie, you have escaped the bonds of poverty and no longer are in need of the state's Medicaid program. Never mind that $118 a week is but a fraction of the poverty line as defined by the United States of America. ... Sound like a joke? It's not. And it is difficult to imagine anything less humorous (Rick Ungar, 6/12).

The Washington Post: How Republican Governors Could Help Obama In 2012
Even before the Medicaid stimulus money ran out, states including Arizona and Indiana were eliminating Medicaid-paid organ transplants and denying some life-saving treatments; those awful options will become more widespread (Norman J. Ornstein, 6/10).

San Francisco Chronicle: Health Care Reform Must Include Mental Wellness
Health care reforms across the country, including those initiated through the federal Affordable Care Act, threaten to return mental health to the back rooms of care. Why? Because health care reform is happening without mental health at the table. This in spite of passage in 2009 of federal legislation to mandate mental health insurance parity that attempted to correct a legacy of mistreatment (Eduardo Vega, 6/13). 

The Sacramento Bee: A Journey Into Darkness
Now 27, (Brian Lungen) has been in and out of drug and psychiatric treatment facilities and jails more than 30 times, beginning in his teenage years. … His path to Napa State illustrates the story of mental illness in our time. With the help of 24-hour care and antipsychotic medication, he has become more stable. But he didn't receive prolonged and intensive care until he committed a crime (Dan Morain, 6/12). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 30 Years On, A Fear Of Stigma Remains 
[In] the 30 years since the first cases of HIV were recognized on June 5, 1981, some things have become radically different, while others remain remarkably the same. The so-called Gay Plague has gone from something that once overwhelmingly hit gay, white men to a virus whose main culprit is black, gay and bisexual men, ages 13 to 29. The same homophobia and stigma that surrounded the virus 30 years ago persist (James Causey, 6/11). 

Louisville Courier-Journal: Health Care Shift
Should we merge our health care organizations? Would the merged network be good for Louisville and Kentucky? The answers are clear and compelling. Since the November 2010 announcement that the University of Louisville Hospital, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System are considering a merger, the prospective partners have faced many important questions and recognize that a new heath care organization will impact the health of local communities across Kentucky. Together we will address health challenges too big for any single provider (Bruce A. Klockars, David Laird and James Taylor, 6/11).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.