KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Coherent GOP Plan For Health Care; Dems Need Better ‘Sales Pitch’ For Health Law

The New York Times: A Choice, Not A Whine
Hostility toward the Supreme Court has risen sharply since Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. upheld the Obama health care law. People are apparently angry that the court didn't rid them of a law they detest. But that's silly. If Americans want to replace this thing, they should do it themselves. ... Moreover, there are alternatives. Despite what you’ve read, there is a coherent Republican plan (David Brooks, 7/2). 

Los Angeles Times: Live Free -- And Uninsured
For the record, there are losers under Obamacare. Here's a short list: 1) taxpayers who will carry the load of what the Congressional Budget Office says will be a $2-trillion price tag when the law is fully implemented; 2) the CBO also says it's likely that at least a few million workers will be pushed off their current insurance coverage, even though the president insists you can keep your existing insurance if you like it; 3) innumerable and unknowable numbers of sick people who will not be screened for various diseases because some bureaucrats' protocol says it's too expensive; 4) Roman Catholic and other religious institutions forced to violate their values; 5) a few million so-called freeloaders who don't want to buy health insurance for perfectly rational reasons (Jonah Goldberg, 7/3).

Los Angeles Times: A Supreme Court Mystery Worthy Of Grisham
Over the weekend, Jan Crawford of CBS, a longtime and well-wired Supreme Court reporter, revealed that "Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law." Not only that. "Justice Anthony Kennedy -- believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law -- led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold. 'He was relentless,' one source said of Kennedy's efforts. 'He was very engaged in this.'" But wait, there's more (Michael McGough, 7/2). 

The Washington Post: John Roberts's Alternate Universe
There is little evidence that Roberts is entering a midlife ideological crisis. But his health-care ruling did expose a division between two varieties of judicial conservatism -- institutionalism and constitutionalism -- that can lead to very different outcomes (Michael Gerson, 7/2).

The Wall Street Journal: A Strategy To Undo ObamaCare
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled ObamaCare's individual mandate constitutional, the direction of American health policy is in the hands of voters. So how do we get from here to "repeal and replace"? Step one is electing Mitt Romney as president, along with Republican House and Senate majorities. Without a Republican sweep, the law will remain in place (Keith Hennessey, 7/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Chief Justice Roberts Taxes Credibility
Not once in the 59 pages that constitute Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's lead opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius does he use the word "integrity." Even so, in the days since the individual mandate was upheld as a tax, concern for the "integrity" or "legitimacy" or "reputation" of the Roberts Court has become the most accepted explanation for why the chief justice ruled as he did (William McGurn, 7/2).

USA TodayObamaCare Ruling, After The Shouting
The instant reaction to last week's Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare was entirely predictable. The right fumed at Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with the court's four liberal justices. ... On the left, there was giddy optimism. ... But with time comes wisdom: Though the decision saved Obama's signature achievement and is better for the president than a loss, it fired up an opposition that already despises the law and could make his re-election more difficult. And if anyone thinks Roberts betrayed his principles, they're not looking past the headlines (7/2). 

USA Today: Roberts' Ruing Isn't Final
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, can you still argue that the Constitution does not support ObamaCare? The liberal blogosphere apparently thinks the constitutional debate is over. I wonder whether they would have had that opinion the day after the Dred Scott decision (Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., 7/2).

USA Today: Health Care Reform Needs Better Sales Pitch
President Obama went before the TV cameras shortly after the Supreme Court saved the most important accomplishment of his presidency last week and spoke about why his health reform law makes sense. His remarks were about eight minutes long and clocked in at 1,224 words. No wonder he's losing the political fight over ObamaCare (7/2).

Politico: John Robert's Verdict? Health Care Is Not A Right
Democrats are thrilled. They don’t really care how the court got there as long as it got there. But it does make a difference how it got there. Because what the Supreme Court did was deny that health care is a right. In the court's view, the right to health care has no constitutionally protected status -- like abortion rights or gun rights. It's just a benefit. Rights can't be taken away. Benefits can (Bill Schneider, 7/3).

Myrtle Beach Sun News/McClatchy Newspapers: Real People Suffer When Health Care Is Mixed With Politics
Lost in the circus that has become the health care reform debate are real people with real problems. Tens of millions of people go without health care coverage every year, including almost a fifth of South Carolina's residents. Tens of thousands of those people die annually in large part because they are not covered, according to studies from institutions such as Harvard University. Unexpected medical emergencies top the list of causes of personal bankruptcy, according to researchers (Isaac J. Bailey, 7/3).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: GOP Exhibits Resolve To Repeal
Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that the House will vote on July 11 to fully repeal Obamacare. Let this be a sign that the fight for full repeal of this costly, job-killing law is far from over. The House will once again give the Senate an opportunity to repeal this bill. The choice is simple: Again ignore the will of the American people, or join the House in full repeal of this misguided law. We are confident that if the Senate chooses the latter, both parties can and will come together to pass patient-centered reforms that will deliver the highest quality care at affordable prices without jeopardizing jobs across this country. Any policy that we pass must adhere to a uniform concept: Empower patients with choices and protect and preserve the doctor-patient relationship (Reps. Bob Goodlatte, H. Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, R-Va., 7/3).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Supreme Court Ruling Just The Beginning
At Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado we understand how the health care law will have an unprecedented effect on women's health. The law guarantees women direct access to preventative health care providers without referrals, and ends discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for pre-existing conditions (Leslie Durgin, 7/2).

Miami Herald: Health Care Ruling No 'Conservative Victory'
The government cannot order you to eat broccoli or buy a GM car. But it can tax the daylights out of you if you don't. ... If you think that nanny-state forces won’t, soon enough, attempt to enact a tax for not exercising, or not owning an electric car, or not partaking of some other progressive fad of the moment, your imagination is sadly lacking (Glenn Garvin, 7/2).

JAMA: The Legal Reasoning That Preserved ACA's Individual Mandate
The Court’s reliance on the taxing power reflects a vital public health goal of the tax system. While providing Congress the financial resources to provide for the common defense and welfare, it also enables Congress to affect risk behavior and influence health-promoting activities. Tobacco taxes, for example, are levied not only to raise revenue but also to discourage smoking (Lawrence O. Gostin, 7/2).

JAMA: Health Reform: The Music Didn't Stop A Second Time
Opponents frustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision vow to use the upcoming election in November to elect enough new federal politicians, including a new president, to pass a new law to replace the ACA. This will be no easy task. It would require passage in the House (something that is possible today with a Republican majority); passage in the Senate (where the Republicans would have to make substantial gains to capture a 60-vote majority); and the signature of a Republican president, something Governor Romney says he will provide if elected. While nothing is foolproof, the odds of pulling this off in our traditionally stalemated Congress are long (Dr. Andrew Bindman, 7/2).

New England Journal of Medicine: The Road Ahead For The Affordable Care Act 
In a less hostile political environment, congressional Democrats and Republicans would collaborate in assessing, modifying, and reconstructing many ACA elements, large and small — typical activities after the launch of any major law. And perhaps we will still get there ... For now, there are still many obstacles ahead. (John E. McDonough, 7/2).

New England Journal of Medicine: The Dénouement Of The Supreme Court's ACA Drama 
[B]y characterizing the Medicaid expansion as a "shift in kind, not merely degree" and outlining possible criteria for invalidating federal spending conditions as unconstitutionally coercive, the Roberts opinion could give states more leverage in resisting federal standards accompanying receipt of federal funds (Renée M. Landers, 7/2).

Des Moines Register: Will Medicaid Expand In Iowa? Look To Voters
It's not just a political thing for (Gov. Terry) Branstad (to not pursue the Medicaid expansion), it’s a philosophical position. It remains to be seen how many of the legislators elected in November feel the same way. ... Branstad himself pointed out that there’s no point in trying to hash out health care issues, such as holding a health care summit with lawmakers, before the November election (Kathie Obradovich, 7/2).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Without An Audit, Medicaid Expansion Shouldn't Proceed
With a massive expansion of Medicaid set to occur under Obamacare, the time to take action on accountability and transparency is now, not later. The enormous expansion of Medicaid underscores the urgency for audits of the Minnesota Medicaid program administered under managed care. The same HMOs run both the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but historically Minnesota's Medicare costs have been among the lowest in the nation, while its Medicaid costs are among the highest -- even though Medicare is only for the elderly, who typically use more health care and are more expensive to cover (Sean Nienow, 7/2).

And in other health related opinions -

The New York Times: Mississippi's Abortion Ban
In November, voters in Mississippi soundly rejected a "personhood" amendment to the State Constitution that would have outlawed all abortions and the most widely used forms of contraception by defining life as beginning at the moment of fertilization. Undeterred, state lawmakers came up with another unconstitutional scheme to eliminate abortions by requiring doctors performing the procedure to be obstetrician-gynecologists who have privileges to admit patients to a hospital (7/2).

Houston Chronicle: Home Care Workers Deserve Basic Rights
Guaranteeing fair wages to home care workers is in everyone's best interest. Millions of Americans already depend on home care workers, and that number is growing fast. If we can't guarantee home care workers these basic labor protections, how can we attract and keep workers to provide the quality care we all deserve that most of us prefer to receive at home? (Renee Tillman, 7/2).

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