KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Bad Idea’ About Repealing Medicare Cost Board; Conservatives Say Health Law Repeal Fight Is Not Over

The New York Times: A Bad Idea Resurfaces
House Republicans like to talk about the need to find common ground with President Obama to make progress on important national issues, especially after the election. Yet within days, they were setting an agenda to eliminate an important element of his signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, recently proposed that House Republicans set their sights on repealing the part of the law that creates an independent board that is supposed to help limit growth in Medicare spending (11/17).

USA Today: 'Another Federal Power Grab'
It's really far past time for us to call ObamaCare what it truly is: an unprecedented government overreach into every American's life, forcing higher costs on individuals, practitioners, employers and state governments in lieu of actually fixing our health care system (Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 11/8). 

USA Today: ObamaCare Resisters Get With The Program
[T]he Affordable Care Act has survived everything its opponents threw at it and is on track to take full effect starting in 2014. And that's a good thing: It means the USA can finally join the rest of the world's industrial democracies in guaranteeing that most of its citizens have health coverage. But some politicians, like Japanese soldiers who hid in the jungle for years after the end of World War II, are determined to battle on (11/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Why ObamaCare Is Still Not A Sure Thing
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won't be fully repealed while Barack Obama is in office, but the administration is heavily dependent on the states for its implementation. ...states still have two key choices to make that together will put them in the driver's seat: whether to create state health-insurance exchanges, and whether to expand Medicaid. They should say "no" to both (James C. Capretta and Yuval Levin, 11/18).

HealthyCal: Health Is About More Than Health Care
But for all the hype and controversy over the Affordable Care Act, the law is really more about insurance than health. Insurance coverage is a good thing. But by itself it is not likely to make Californians much healthier. Chronic disease, which can often be prevented and can almost always be managed, accounts for 75 percent of all deaths in California and a similar percentage of health care costs (Daniel Weintraub, 11/18).

Kansas City Star: Needed: Honest Analysis Of Medicaid Expansion In Missouri, Kansas
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate in President Barack Obama's health reform law also handed a huge decision to state governments [about Medicaid expansion]. ... Before leaders rule out expanding Medicaid eligibility, however, they owe it to constituents to obtain a thorough and honest analysis of the impact. Some preliminary studies indicate states may come out ahead financially (11/17).

The Washington Post: The 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal We Need
Liberal groups are already mobilizing against cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Republican hostility to tax increases runs deep. These objections are overblown. Millions of comfortable retirees can afford Social Security cuts or higher Medicare premiums and remain comfortable. Likewise, modest tax increases have "a small [economic] growth impact when tax rates are low or moderate," argue economists Nir Jaimovich of Duke University and Sergio Rebelo of Northwestern University (Robert J. Samuelson, 11/18).

The Boston Globe: Language Can Be Barrier Between Doctor, Patient
Studies have shown that patients who do not speak English generally fare worse in our health care system. They are often diagnosed with more advanced disease, have difficulty taking medications as prescribed, and spend more time in the hospital. Medical interpreters are essential in bridging this gap, lending meaning to our interactions with non-English-speaking patients (Dr. Kiran Gupta, 11/19).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: When New Drugs Cost Too Much, We Can Just Say No
In health care, we tend to assume that newer is always better. But sometimes it is not. It just runs up the bill. ... Last month, when confronted with an unpalatable price for a new drug, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York just said no and declined to purchase it. And their refusal worked. Faced with the loss of business from one of its largest and most prestigious customers, the manufacturer, Sanofi, agreed to grant a 50% discount (Robert I. Field, 11/16).

Minnesota Public Radio: State Strategy Places Substance Abuse Emphasis Where It Belongs
Substance abuse may be the greatest public health and safety issue facing our community, state and nation. It costs our nation more than $510 billion a year, ... Unfortunately, our emergency rooms, jails, homeless shelters and prisons have become an expensive alternative to treatment for so many suffering the chronic illness of substance abuse. This is particularly unfortunate when we have so many quality community-based prevention, treatment and recovery centers (Heidi Kammer, 11/19).

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