KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Editorials, Columns Still Debating Ryan’s Budget Plan

The New York Times: The Crisis Next Time
[T]he Republicans did far better than they could possibly have imagined when the process began, winning $38.5 billion in cuts, more than even the House leadership had proposed. ...  Democrats also agreed to the ideological demand of House conservatives that the District of Columbia be banned from spending any money for abortions, a cruel blow to the poor and largely African-American women who need those services. ... The worst aspect of the deal, however, was the momentum it gave to Republicans who have hoodwinked many Americans into believing that short-term cuts in spending will be good for the economy (4/10).

USA Today: Our View: 'RyanCare' Won't Work Without New Health Law
Say what you want about Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to revamp Medicare, the man has a keen sense of irony. As part of a Republican spending proposal for 2012 and beyond, the House Budget Committee chairman wants to scrap Medicare as we know it and have seniors buy private insurance, beginning with new retirees in 2022. This comes after two years of Republicans pillorying Democrats for seeking Medicare cuts of much smaller scale (4/10).

USA Today: Another View: One-Size Exchanges Don't Fit All
Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to transform Medicare from a "one-size fits all" program into a "consumer-choice" system, in which multiple sellers compete to offer buyers better value, is much closer to my original concept of a health insurance exchange (Ed Haislmaier, 4/10). 

Bloomberg: Ryan's Courageous Budget Needs Reality Test 
A news search for the past three months shows the terms courage or courageous or bold were used 679 times in articles mentioning Ryan. .... If a serious down-payment on long-term deficit reduction is enacted this year, it will have to be bipartisan and include cutbacks in entitlements and higher taxes; the real road map will be Bowles-Simpson. An important determinant of whether that's possible will be the flexibility of the bright young congressman who is chairman of the House Budget Committee (Albert Hunt, 4/10).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: The GOP's Medicare Scam 
The Republicans claim costs will go down because insurers will compete for seniors' premium dollars. If you've ever bought health insurance, or if your company has asked you to contribute more to your health plan, you know this is ridiculous. It's not a buyer's market, it's a seller's market: A few major health insurers pretty much dictate premium prices (Matt Ruben, 4/11).

The Baltimore Sun: Fixing Medicare Needs Sacrifice From Everybody 
[N]either you nor anybody else in the program has paid anything close to what the benefits are worth. Saying you have a right to an unaltered Medicare is like saying you can buy $300 worth of food at Giant with a $100 bill. ... An insurance company in this position wishing to avoid bankruptcy would have raised premiums paid by the beneficiaries decades ago. Or cut their benefits. But Washington, ever prone to deliver something for nothing, has done neither (Jay Hancock, 4/10).

Chicago Tribune: Reaganomics? Meet 'Ryan-omics'
Ryan-omics reduces the costs of Medicaid, the health care plan for the poor and disabled, by converting funding to block grants to the states, based on their low-income population. ... Medicaid is not just a "welfare" program for poor families. At least half of state Medicaid spending covers long-term care for the elderly and disabled. Still, a lot of Americans don't appreciate how much government is helping their families, until the help is gone (Clarence Page, 4/10). 
Des Moines Register: Congress Is Right To Challenge AARP
Republicans dislike the health reform law. AARP supported it. Republicans are now investigating AARP. But that's OK, because the organization needs some investigating. ... For years people have wondered how an organization that rakes in a fortune endorsing products and has one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington can enjoy preferential tax treatment. They wonder how AARP's business interests may influence its advocacy interests (4/8). 

The Baltimore Sun: A Budget Battle Within A Culture War
Republicans in Congress, including Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, would require a woman's accountant - or perhaps an agent of the Internal Revenue Service - to be informed of the circumstances necessitating an abortion. Even when paying for the abortion with her own money, a woman would have to prove to her CPA or the IRS that she was the victim of rape or incest. Otherwise, she would have to forget about deducting the cost of the abortion as a medical expense (Dan Rodricks, 4/10). 

Los Angeles Times: Should There Be A Fat Tax? 
[In Arizona] officials hope to levy a $50 annual fee on some Medicaid patients who don't take steps to improve their health. ...  This approach is far more appealing than taxing soda and is more likely to improve America's health. It provides a direct link between unhealthy ways of living and the consequences. Americans need information, through labeling, nutrition education and medical advice, to make smart diet decisions. Then they should be free to eat what they want - as long as they bear the cost of their personal choices.  (4/11).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Cherry-Pick The Best Ideas For Health Care
There are now three proposals, outlined by Minnesota's leaders, meant to chart the course for the future of health care in the state. There is good in each, but none can stand alone to improve on the current system and save $1.6 billion for the next biennium. ... By building a health care model for Minnesota that meets the same access, quality and affordability benchmarks as federal reform but does so in the Minnesota way, we can reduce complexity and send a message to our community that we have their best interests at heart (Kenneth Paulus, 4/10).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Status Of Health Care In An Evolving Minnesota
The [Minnesota] Legislature's health and human services bills should be the "care for one another" bills. This year's versions might instead be called the "you're on your own" bills for thousands of poor and disabled Minnesotans (Lori Sturdevant, 4/9). 

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