KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Shortages Of Drugs Persist; Number of Medicare Doctors Is Growing; Obamacare Undermines Health Savings Accounts

USA Today: Debt Limit Politics: Our View 
As was the case during the last debt-ceiling debacle, in 2011, playing politics with the nation's creditworthiness is irresponsible and unnecessary. Leave aside the ObamaCare obsession, because Republicans have zero chance of persuading the president to kill one of his defining achievements. After defeats in Congress, the Supreme Court and last year's presidential election, the ObamaCare opponents seem like the holdout Japanese soldiers who kept fighting World War II into the 1970s (9/2).

USA Today: Tie Debt Limit To Spending Cuts 
There is no need for market-rattling showdowns or brinksmanship in the discussion this fall. The sooner President Obama starts to work with both parties to solve Washington's spending problem, the better it will be for our economy (House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, 9/2). 

The Washington Post: Republicans Should Get Out Of The Way Of Obamacare
Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court found most of its provisions to be constitutional. Republicans, having opposed the bill and supported the legal challenge to it, are entitled to be unhappy about the outcome, though in our view they are wrong on the merits. They are not entitled to obstruct and flout the laws of the United States. On the contrary, they have an obligation to cooperate in good faith with wholly legitimate laws duly passed and reviewed by all three branches of government (9/2).

The Washington Post: In Budget Fight, GOP Doesn't Act In The National Interest
Do [Republicans] really believe the president is willing to forsake his most important legislative accomplishment? Before it even comes fully into effect? This is a tragic waste of time and effort. Remember when Democrats captured the House in 2006? They worked with George W. Bush even though they disagreed with his policies (Eugene Robinson, 9/2).

The New York Times: How A Cabal Keeps Generics Scarce 
About a year ago, President Obama signed a law that was supposed to end chronic shortages of lifesaving drugs. But the critical lack of generic drugs continues unabated. It is a preventable crisis that is inflicting suffering on patients and, in some cases, causing needless deaths (Margaret Clapp, Dr. Michael A. Rie and Phillip L. Zweig, 9/2).

The New York Times: Doctors And Their Medicare Patients
Critics who want radical changes in Medicare, the public insurance program for the elderly and disabled, often allege that the program is heading for disaster because stingy payments from the government are causing a rising number of doctors to refuse to serve Medicare patients. ... Those concerns have always been greatly exaggerated. Now a new analysis by experts at the Department of Health and Human Services should demolish that mythology for good (8/31).

Bloomberg: Health Savings Accounts As Antidote To Obamacare
For years, conservative health-policy analysts have highlighted the power of consumer-directed arrangements such as health savings accounts to restrain costs, help consumers gain more control over their medical decisions and improve the quality of care. Yet Obamacare, as well as some state policies, are undermining the effectiveness of HSAs. Republicans now have an opportunity to rally around reforms to replace Obamacare and address health-care spending. Making HSAs more attractive and widely available is an important piece of the puzzle (Lanhee Chen, 9/2). 

Arizona Republic: Affordable Care Act Needs Fixes To Address Costs
TI’ve heard from families and businesses concerned about the lack of specific information regarding implementation of the ACA, what the law means for them and and what the marketplace costs and options will be. This frustrating lack of information from the federal government is hampering their ability to plan for the future. My staff and I are working to help businesses and families navigate the current law (Rep. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., 9/1).

Bloomberg: Free Nurse Practitioners From Supervision
Whatever its flaws, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has sparked innovation across the U.S.’s sclerotic health-care system. An especially welcome example is the push to expand the role of nurse practitioners in primary care. The country’s 171,000 NPs are trained to do many jobs that primary-care doctors do: diagnose problems and treat patients, order tests, prescribe drugs and refer to specialists. And with an average income of $99,000, they’re a bargain (8/30).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Philadelphia Inquirer: Too Poor For A Health Premium Subsidy
Will low-income Pennsylvanians be tempted to overstate their income to the IRS in order to afford health insurance? The state's rejection of Medicaid expansion for its poorest citizens creates this perverse incentive (Michael Campbell, 9/1).

Detroit News: Has Snyder's Medicaid Expansion Mortgaged Michigan's Future?
The Michigan Legislature's bipartisan approval of [Gov. Rick] Snyder's expansion of Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of the poverty line last week was a rational decision given Obamacare’s threat to small businesses and the federal government’s promise to cover near-term expenses . ... The Medicaid deal is a short-term solution that, like Detroit’s past largesse, puts the state at long-term risk well after Snyder & Co. have left office (Henry Payne, 9/3).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Costs Of Not Expanding Medicaid In Missouri Begin To Hit Home
There are Republicans in Missouri who argue that the nearly 800,000 people in this state without health insurance already have access to the health-care system. They are not entirely wrong. Anyone who can get to a hospital emergency room can be seen by a doctor. If you have no means to pay, your care might even be free. But somebody always pays (9/3). 

St. Louis Dispatch: Three Reasons Why Missouri Should Expand Medicaid
Since July, the Interim Committee on Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform has listened to testimony across Missouri. Consensus exists about ways to build on the successes of the current Medicaid program, and about some areas in which reform is needed. But these are complex issues. Missouri cannot afford to delay expanded eligibility until reforms are implemented. The opportunity to save lives and give peace of mind to more 250,000 Missourians will have passed (Ruth Roetheli Ehresman, 9/3).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Health Care: A Roadblock To Entrepreneurial Ambition
This means that entrepreneurialism in America, the Land of Opportunity, is becoming solely the province of the young, rich, healthy and illogical. By tying health insurance to full-time employment, we have made entrepreneurialism devastatingly unlikely, because even those who could afford to live on, say, a 25-hour workweek must also forfeit affordable insurance. The solution here certainly doesn’t have to be state-run health care, and it really doesn’t even have to include state-sponsored health insurance (Andrew Finken, 9/2).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: To Implement Obamacare, Start By Explaining It
Beginning next year, you will have to maintain coverage of some sort if you can afford it, but you are guaranteed that it will be available. A simple message like this could go a long way toward reducing the confusion. It might lead many of those who disapprove of Obamacare to withhold some of their skepticism. And the task of implementing the law would become a whole lot easier (Robert Field, 9/2). 

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