KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Hiaasen On ‘Insane’ Insurance; Residential Facilities’ Budget Nightmares; Safety At VA Hospitals

McClatchy / The Miami Herald: U.S. Health Insurance Situation Is Insane 
If Obama's healthcare plan is struck down in court, lots of politicians will celebrate it as a victory over big government. The dubious reward for taxpayers will be to continue footing the medical bills for 50 million uninsured Americans, and watching the dangerous deficit swell (Carl Hiaasen, 6/15).

The Wall Street Journal: A Welfare State Or A Start-Up Nation?
Higher taxes to support a larger welfare state means a larger share of national resources pay for a Medicare system that everyone recognizes as expensive and inefficient. More spending reduction, especially for Medicare and Medicaid, allows a more productive use of resources for growth. Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget-which would cut $6.2 trillion in spending from President Obama's budget over the next 10 years-is a great step in that direction. Mr. Obama has chosen to campaign for re-election as the defender of the welfare state and a woefully inefficient health-care system (Allan H. Meltzer, 6/15). 

Dallas Morning News: Accounting For The Cost Of Health Care
The cost of care in the U.S. remains at least a third higher than any other developed nation, and medical spending is expected to climb another 8.5 percent next year (Jim Landers, 6/13). 

The Sacramento Bee: Adult Health Centers Are Well Worth Saving
On Friday, the Robertson Adult Day Health Care Center in Sacramento closed after 25 years, stranding 49 patients – some severely disabled, others elderly and frail – and their families. … Part of the state's Medi-Cal system, adult day health care was designed to keep such fragile adults in their own homes and out of even more expensive nursing homes. … advocates are waging a last-ditch fight to preserve at least some vestige of the program. It's well worth the effort (6/15).

Chicago Sun-Times: Finally, Disabled Can Choose Where To Live 
States that have seen the light have moved away from warehousing people with disabilities in large, residential facilities in favor of placing them in smaller, community-based settings. … Illinois, though, continues to rely heavily on institutional care for the disabled and the mentally ill, spending less per capita on community-based services than just about any other state. … Not only is providing community-based housing the right thing to do, it's also cheaper (6/15). 

Des Moines Register: Stop Senior Homes From Breaking Promises
An assisted living center in Iowa might grow weary of state regulators poking around. So the center can shoo them away by dropping its state "assisted living center" license. It can make a few changes, call itself a senior retirement complex and never have to worry about the state conducting another inspection or responding to complaints from tenants. ... Lawmakers passed a bill ... but in spite of the new law centers can still do what they were doing before (6/14). 
Houston Chronicle: Texas Still Has Time To Stop Disastrous Spending Cuts
The 82nd legislative session has ended and the biggest issue facing Texas - the budget crisis - was not resolved, so we are now in special session. This is actually a positive development because it gives us another chance to get the budget right and to move away from reckless cuts that would be disastrous to Texas families. ... The lowlights include: Underfunding health and human services in Texas by $23 billion, 29.8 percent below what is needed to maintain current services; Cutting $4.8 billion in Medicaid (Sen. Rodney Ellis, 6/14) 
USA Today: Our View: Dysfunctional VA Violates Veterans
A female patient in a locked psychiatric unit at a veterans medical center was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a fellow patient. At an assisted-living facility also run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, a male patient was raped by his roommate, who turned out to be a convicted sex offender. ... Because the VA now serves twice as many women as it did in 2000, some in co-ed residential facilities, it should have anticipated problems (6/14). 

USA Today: Opposing View: VA Continues To Improve 
We continue to improve how we prevent, detect and report crimes at our facilities. Any incident that threatens the safety or well-being of a veteran, family member, employee or visitor is unacceptable. ... We have a multidisciplinary effort focusing on three key areas: implementing the GAO recommendations, assessing the risks in our facilities, and prescribing specific measures to improve safety and security (William C. Schoenhard, 6/14). 

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