KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Will Gang Of Six Compromise Work?; Endorsing Birth Control Recommendations; Minn. Budget Deal

Los Angeles Times: Ganging Up On The Debt
Not surprisingly, the plan has drawn complaints from the left about cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and from the right about defense cuts and tax increases. But the senators are right about the need to simplify and broaden the tax code and to put entitlements on a sustainable footing without slashing aid to the most vulnerable (7/21). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Gang Of Six Play
As for Republicans, we understand the skepticism about promises of future spending cuts. GOP leaders need to see more of the fine print. But even the $600 billion in spending cuts in stage one are worth grabbing as part of a debt ceiling vote. More broadly, Democrats in the Gang are making a big concession by saying that tax rates should go down, not up, and that the older entitlements and even ObamaCare must be reformed (7/21). 

USA Today: Our View: Gang Of Six Offers Balanced Approach 
The Gang's proposal would require major cuts in domestic spending, defense, farm subsidies and the big health benefit programs, Medicare and Medicaid, which are sure to give Democrats just as much heartburn as Republicans have over tax increases (7/20). 

USA Today: Opposing View: Don't Go With Gang Of Six 
This week, a bipartisan "Gang of 234" in the House of Representatives passed the only plan that can fundamentally solve our debt problems. Known as Cut, Cap and Balance, it begins with real spending cuts this year and continues with enforceable spending caps in the future (Rep. Jim Jordan, 7/20).

Roll Call: Barrasso: Health Care Waivers For All Americans
Since October, the administration has granted waivers to various unions, businesses, insurers and others who can't afford the law's burdensome mandates. The Department of Health and Human Services has now granted 1,471 annual benefit limit waivers covering more than 3.2 million people. I am introducing a bill that will allow every American to apply for a waiver from the health care law. Under my bill, any American can submit a waiver application seeking relief from any - or all - of the health care law's mandates (Sen. John Barrasso, 7/21).  

Kaiser Health News: As The CLASS Act Comes Under Fire, The British Propose A Model For National Long-Term Care
While repealing CLASS would represent a lost opportunity, the program's vulnerability highlights the challenges the U.S. faces as it tries to find a way to finance long-term care for its aging population, as well as younger people with disabilities (Howard Gleckman, 7/20).

The New York Times: Sound Medical Advice
In an encouraging development for women's health, an advisory panel of leading experts has recommended that all insurers be required to offer contraceptives as well as other preventive services free of charge under the new health care law. The Obama administration seems inclined to follow the advice, which is even better news (7/20).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Plan May Include Free Birth Control 
Whatever you believe, in both the short and long term, it makes more financial sense to provide women with free birth control options than to not provide services and a woman goes through an unplanned pregnancy (James Causey, 7/20).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: New Budget Rests On Shaky Structure
We wish the shutdown's end could evoke good feeling among all Minnesotans. The final budget spreads the additional $1.4 billion widely for worthy purposes, including these: ... Continued Medicaid and MinnesotaCare enrollment for nearly all of the low-income adults the programs now cover. The final bill dropped a GOP reversal of Dayton's shift of the lowest-income childless adults into Medicaid from its meager state predecessor, General Assistance Medical Care. Continued mental health services, which will face cuts much smaller than the GOP bills delivered (7/20).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Job Well Done On Health, Human Services
The compromise of legislative proposals and the governor's requests includes substantial reform, streamlining and improvements to our state health care system. We accomplished our work without surcharges and without tax increases. We bent the cost curve from future increases of over 22 percent down to a manageable 4.8 percent. We prevented cuts to nursing homes, boosted rural care and minimized reductions to disability services ([State Rep.] Jim Abeler, 7/20). 

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Has Unique Health Care Challenges
Alaskans are paying significantly more for health care this year. However, Alaska's unique circumstances make it possible to break through barriers to real health care reform, to improve outcomes and to reduce overall costs. This is possible due to Alaska's remoteness from the Lower 48 and geographic dispersion of its population. ... Let's review real reform that will reduce health care costs (Brent A. Fisher, 7/20).  

Dallas Morning News: Mentally Disabled Deserve Better Care And Oversight
Tucked among North Oak Cliff's bustling neighborhoods, numerous group homes oversee many of Dallas' mentally disabled. When these homes run properly, clients have a place to sleep, help managing their needs and access to decent services. But not all of the group homes operate that way. Some don't treat residents fairly, according to research conducted through this newspaper's "Bridging Dallas' North-South Gap" editorial project (7/20).

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