KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Pence On Medicaid Expansion; Jindal On Obamacare Repeal Efforts; ‘Long-Shot’ Lawsuits

The Wall Street Journal: The Smarter Way To Provide Health Care For The Poor
From the beginning of my tenure as governor in 2013, we have been saying no to Obamacare in Indiana. We refused to set up a state-based exchange, and we have said we will not expand traditional Medicaid. We have a better alternative in a program that offers Indiana's working poor the chance to get insurance and control their own health care (Gov. Mike Pence, 5/18). 

Fox News: Yes, We Can Still Repeal Obamacare -- Let's Get To Work
According to those in the elite salons of Washington, Obamacare cannot be repealed. The conventional wisdom on the cocktail circuit contends that once you mandate health insurance for millions, you cannot unmandate it. This theoretical belief has become accepted in Washington as a dogmatic article of faith.  And the Obamacrats and most of the press believe that repeating this mantra often enough will make it so. Of course, many Beltway insiders claim that Obamacare cannot be repealed because they wish to preserve the financial windfalls the law has brought them (Gov. Bobby Jindal, 5/19).

The New York Times: More Specious Attacks On Reform
Conservative critics of President Obama’s health care reforms are engaged in two long-shot lawsuits to overturn the Affordable Care Act or disable one of its central provisions. Both lawsuits should be recognized for what they really are -- attempts to use the courts to scuttle a law that Congressional Republicans have repeatedly tried, but failed, to repeal through the political process (5/18). 

The New York Times’ Sunday Review: Medicine’s Top Earners Are Not The M.D.s
Though the recent release of Medicare’s physician payments cast a spotlight on the millions of dollars paid to some specialists, there is a startling secret behind America’s health care hierarchy: Physicians, the most highly trained members in the industry’s work force, are on average right in the middle of the compensation pack. That is because the biggest bucks are currently earned not through the delivery of care, but from overseeing the business of medicine (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 5/17).

Forbes: Sure, We'll (Eventually) Beat Cancer. But Can We Afford To?
[T]he fact remains that as immune-based therapies for cancer are developed and marketed, they may be used alongside already expensive targeted drugs. And payers are already struggling to fund impressive advances against Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, to name just a few other expensive specialty drug indications. In at least the short term, can society afford to win the war on cancer? (Paul Howard, 5/16).

Los Angeles Times: Bill About Doctors’ Substance Abuse Would Compromise Safety
If anyone should know how to steer clear of cures that are worse than the disease, it's doctors. That's why it seems so odd -- on the surface -- that the California Medical Assn. would sponsor a bill to re-create a drug- and alcohol-treatment program for physicians that has failed miserably in the past. It's when you look under the surface that you recognize the CMA's real motive is to stave off a November ballot initiative that would be even tougher on doctors than the measure it's sponsoring (Michael Hiltzik, 5/16). 

The Miami Herald: Give People With Mental Illness Treatment, Not A Jail Cell
The recent decision by leaders in the state Legislature to back away from a bill that would have jeopardized Florida’s system of community-based crisis stabilization units (CSUs) in favor of a more-thoughtful analysis of how beds in these facilities are being utilized is a welcome and potentially life-saving alternative to what would have been a disastrous shift in public policy. CSUs provide short-term treatment to indigent people who are experiencing psychiatric emergencies. These units are critical to preventing the need for more costly care in hospitals and the criminal-justice system (Steve Leifman, 5/17). 

The Miami Herald: Enhance Resources To Fight Medicare Fraud -- It's Working
More than half of the people arrested in six cities across the country and charged with Medicare fraud this week were from South Florida. Of course -- we’re No. 1, but not in a good way. In South Florida, 50 suspects were nabbed in the two-day operation, charged with trying to pocket almost $66 million from the federal healthcare program. It’s greed gone wild — and it comes at the expense of taxpayers, honest medical providers and, worst of all, elderly patients who got bogus care -- if they got any care at all -- and medications they don’t need (5/17). 

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.