KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: A Need For Sacrifice On Health Care; Health Law’s Conservative Heritage; HSAs Foster Competition

The New York Times: How Insurers Can Help
Private insurance companies should be leading the way in the struggle to control health care costs. They know about every contact a patient has with the health care system and can see how much is wasteful or redundant. By altering the way they pay doctors and hospitals, they can potentially push providers to reduce costs, improve quality and even transform the whole culture of American medicine (9/30). 

The New York Times: The Real Referendum
Yet there is a sense in which the election is indeed a referendum, but of a different kind. Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as "collectivist" (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives? (Paul Krugman, 9/30). 

Philadelphia Inquirer: Mitt Romney Continues His Strange Health Care Dance
The sad truth is that constructive health-care reform could have been Mitt Romney's route to reaching a moderate majority of the electorate -- if he hadn't instead taken a ride on the Tea Party Limited. Now, he seems almost schizophrenic on the topic -- heralding his Massachusetts health-care reform while promising to repeal Obamacare, its national doppelganger, if he wins (Jeff Gelles, 9/30).

The New York Times: Three Muffled Syllables
We revere the Americans who lived through World War II and call them the "greatest generation" precisely because of the sacrifices they made. But we seem more than content to let that brand of greatness pass us by. ... Those of us with health insurance are encouraged not to fear any negative consequence from the attempt to universalize coverage, rather than being told that such a goal is worth some giveback — which it is. All of us are assured that the cost of Medicare can be contained without the program's beneficiaries' feeling a significant impact. Really? (Frank Bruni, 9/29). 

The New York Times: The Conservative Case For Obamacare 
[T]he architecture of the Affordable Care Act is based on conservative, not liberal, ideas about individual responsibility and the power of market forces. This fundamental ideological paradox, drowned out by partisan shouting since before the plan's passage in 2010, explains why Obamacare has only lukewarm support from many liberals, who wanted a real, not imagined, "government takeover of health care." It explains why Republicans have been unable since its passage to come up with anything better (J.D. Kleinke, 9/29).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Unhealthy And Unjust
The Obama administration received much-deserved praise in June for granting a temporary reprieve from fear of deportation to qualified undocumented immigrants who, through no fault of their own, were brought to the United States as children. But in a seeming contradiction, the Department of Health and Human Services is denying health benefits to recipients of the "deferred deportation status." ... Denying recipients' health coverage is pure politics (9/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Can A Young Democrat Liberate America From Pete Stark?
The young challenger isn't running to Mr. Stark's right. He supports ObamaCare, opposes Republican entitlement reforms ... Still, the octogenarian Mr. Stark hopes to ride to re-election on his reputation as a liberal scourge. He helped drive the ObamaCare legislation left and has lambasted Paul Ryan's budget and entitlement-reform plans (Allysia Finley, 9/28).

San Francisco Chronicle: HSAs Force Health Providers To Compete
Recently, however, more and more employers are encouraging their employees to shop for health care the way they shop for groceries. To encourage that activity, employers are allowing their employees to manage more of their own health care dollars by means of a health savings account. ...  When health care dollars are in the hands of the patient, those on the supply side of the market -- doctors, hospitals and labs -- compete for those dollars by reducing price, increasing quality and making care more accessible (John C. Goodman, 9/29).

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