Viewpoints: The Effects Of The Debt Debate; Medicare’s Birthday; N.Y. Drug Plan
The Baltimore Sun: Plan To Save On Medicare Drug Costs Would Hurt Seniors -- And Maryland's Economy
In the scramble to cut the nation's debt burden, President Obama, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans have proposed squeezing money out of Medicare by changing the way it pays for prescription drugs. They claim this would save $112 billion over 10 years. But if passed it would be a disaster, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the biopharmaceutical industry -- an important contributor to the Maryland economy -- driving up drug prices and discouraging drug innovation (Renée Winsky, 7/25).
The Washington Post: The Senate's Gimmicky Debt Plan: The Best Of A Bad Choice
Any serious effort to get the debt under control will require a blend of spending cuts, including entitlement spending, and increased revenue. The package unveiled Monday by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) represents the antithesis of that balanced approach. Mr. Boehner's two-step solution would cut now (some $1.2 trillion over the next decade in discretionary spending) and cut more later (7/25).
The Oregonian: In Praise Of Medicare
Medicare turns 46 this week and there is much to celebrate. Medicare assures health care for seniors who might otherwise find health care inaccessible. ... It provides health care far more affordably and efficiently than our private insurance industry. It saves our country hundreds of billions of dollars in administrative overhead. And if we expand Medicare to cover younger, healthier Americans, we would all get more care at less cost (Dr. Samuel Metz, 7/26).
New York Daily News: This Is Your Albany On Drugs: New Legislation Would Hike Cost Of Mail Order Meds
Whenever state lawmakers mess around with the rules for health insurance, New Yorkers should hang on to their wallets. The latest scheme out of the Legislature -- meant to squash the growing use of mail-order pharmacies -- is no exception. This proposed law does nothing to improve the quality or quantity of the drugs that people will get. But -- like most of Albany's ill-conceived mandates -- it will mean higher prices (Bill Hammond, 7/26).
The Economist: Unfortunate Side-Effects
America's new health law would bring change, Democrats said, but not too much. In the battle over Obamacare, no matter was more delicate than the fear that Americans would lose their insurance. "If you like your health care plan," Barack Obama assured a town-hall meeting in 2009, "you can keep your health care plan." Two years later, the debate continues. The basic question is whether America will abandon the current system of employer-sponsored health care in favour of insurance offered through state exchanges (7/26).
Forbes: Utah's Health Exchange Is Not A Success: Conservatives, Please Reconsider Your Arguments
The Utah Health Exchange has gone from being a marginally interesting sideshow to a serious cognitive obstacle to conservatives' wholesale rejection of Obamacare. Witness the Wall Street Journal's editorial of July 16, which soundly rejected the recently released regulatory guidance on what the Administration is now calling "Affordable Insurance Exchanges," but nevertheless encouraged governors to get on the exchange bandwagon, in the vain hope that they can build free-market exchanges that will blunt Obamacare's worst effects. The evidence? "Utah built a pilot exchange on this model in 2009, though the results so far are mixed and the rules are still being fine-tuned" (John Graham, 7/25).
Des Moines Register: Insurance Reality: Rural Areas Are Hit By Higher Insurance Costs
When it comes to health insurance, small businesses have long been at a disadvantage. They lack the size to negotiate cheaper plans for workers. Coverage is more expensive and less comprehensive. How could a business have it worse? It could be in rural Iowa. A new report from the University of Iowa College of Public Health's Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence and David P. Lind and Associates exposes the rural-urban disparities in employer-based health insurance. Rural Iowans spend a larger share of their income on coverage than their urban counterparts. They pay higher deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and copayments at the doctor's office. They're less likely to get a tax deduction for premiums and have dental insurance (7/25).
Los Angeles Times: Syringes Should Be Sold Over The Counter
For a generally progressive state, California falls surprisingly behind on certain issues. One of these is allowing the purchase of syringes without a prescription. Syringes are already an over-the-counter medical supply in 47 states. It's long past time for the same to be true in California (7/26).
Chicago Tribune: Protect Our Patients' Access To Physicians
The wait time before a sick child can see a medical specialist these days is, on average, three to six weeks, according to a study last month in the New England Journal of Medicine. For a child with diabetes symptoms, the wait is more than twice as long. This is in Cook County, home to five major academic medical centers and many teaching hospitals (Kenneth S. Polonsky, 7/26).
Politico: Big Step Forward For Women's Health
Adequate health insurance coverage has too long been out of reach for many women. Their health-and often the health of their families-has suffered. That's why the recommendations made last week by the medical and scientific experts convened by the Institute of Medicine are a major step forward for women. They help address some of the long-standing discriminatory practices and barriers women have faced in the health care system... These new guidelines are historic and will go a long way to protecting and promoting women's health. But opponents of contraception have sounded the alarm and are likely to make political demands to undermine this protection (Rep. Lois Capps and Marcia Greenberger).
Seattle Times: Why The Government Wants To Spy On Your Doctor
The federal government recently announced it wants to spy on your doctor. The government planned to pay "mystery patients" to call doctors and find out whether they are willing to accept the prices set by Medicaid and Medicare. The public was outraged, naturally, and within 72 hours government officials temporarily suspended the calls. Federal officials sending fake patients to spy on doctors is not only unethical, it is one more disturbing indicator of why government price controls on health-care services don't work (Roger Stark, 7/26).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Linda Berglin Will Be Hard To Replace
State Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, has no peer as a shaper of the state policies that have contributed to Minnesota's reputation for high-value health care and to economic equity for women. Her resignation, announced Monday and effective Aug. 15, is the departure of a legislative titan (Lori Sturdevant, 7/25).