KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: On Debt, Medicaid, Medicare And The Budget; Planned Parenthood; One Couple’s Insurance Rates

The Washington Post: If You Thought The Financial Crisis Was Bad, Wait Till The Debt Ceiling Caves In 
Sen. Marco Rubio said he wouldn't vote for an increase unless it included "a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid" - everything on the conservative agenda, basically. And this is where things get dangerous. ... The Bush tax cuts and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit and our various wars ... were passed by Republican majorities (Ezra Klein, 4/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Paul Ryan's Reverse Robin Hood Budget
Why do I oppose Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for reducing the federal budget deficit, the one House Republicans approved overwhelmingly last week? ... Worst things first. The plan threatens to eviscerate Medicare by privatizing it-with vouchers that, absent some sort of cost-control miracle, would fall further and further behind the rising cost of health insurance. And to make that miracle even less likely, House Republicans want to repeal every cost-containment measure enacted in last year's health-reform legislation (Alan S. Blinder, 4/19).

Dallas Morning News: Dems' Worry About Ryan Should Be Medicaid
From Barack Obama down, Democrats are worrying about the wrong part of the 2012 budget blueprint that House Republicans passed last week. Democrats are wrought up over Paul Ryan's Medicare reform proposal when they really should go nuclear about his Medicaid idea (William McKenzie, 4/18).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Opt Out
It's not often that states turn their back on money from Washington, but at least two states may say no thanks to federal grants to implement the new federal health-care law. ... the political trend shows that the President's health reform is not getting any more popular with age, despite Democratic and media predictions. The states are concluding that the more they get to know about ObamaCare, the less they think they can afford it (4/19). 

The Wall Street Journal: Praise Romney Doesn't Need
As Mitt Romney gears up for another presidential run, he seems to be haunted by liberals who want to praise him for the health-care plan he enacted while he was governor of Massachusetts. He knows their bear hugs are meant to smother his candidacy, but so far he hasn't found an effective way to avoid them (John Fund, 4/18).

Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: ACO Fairy Tale Faces A Rupelstiltskin Moment
When writing the final ACO rules, CMS has the chance to spin the dross of the current regulations into something of genuine value to providers, even if it's not quite Rumpelstiltskin-quality gold. If the feds fail, it is all of us, not just those on Medicare program, who could live unhappily ever after (Michael Millenson, 4/19).

Des Moines Register: Let Washington Fashion Health Options 
The health care reform law will get people insured, and it relies heavily on state-based insurance exchanges to do so. People will be able to shop in these marketplaces for private coverage that meets federal guidelines. Many will get help paying for it. Now it's up to states to either set up the exchanges or allow the federal government to do it for them. Iowa lawmakers tried this session. They failed. The best thing they can do now: Forget it. Leave it to the federal government (4/18).

The Baltimore Sun: Health Co-ops Should Be Expanded, Not Limited
One of the casualties of the recent budget deal is a potential game-changer in health care: nonprofit health insurance cooperatives
(co-ops). Although not eliminated, the funding to help launch the co-ops was cut significantly. ... By protecting the remaining funding for co-ops, Congress and the president can support the implementation of model plans, which can be incubators for change (Peter Beilenson, 4/18).

Los Angeles Times: Couple's Health Insurance Choices Are Bad And Worse
Stuart and Cathy Selter recently learned that Anthem Blue Cross is cutting off sales of their plan, which costs them about $1,500 a month with a $2,500 deductible. They can either stick with that plan and pay higher premiums or switch to another plan with a higher deductible. ... In the case of individual health insurance, policyholders enjoy no group rates or safety in numbers. They are at the mercy of their insurers (David Lazarus, 4/19). 

Des Moines Register: Guest Opinion: Goals Address Mental Health Needs
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds last week outlined broad goals with the administration's plans to address mental health reform in Iowa. Iowa has 99 counties with 99 plans for mental health care. With these different plans come inconsistency in access, service and quality. ... Changes are needed. In Polk County alone there are more than 1,000 people on a one-year waiting list for mental health services. Personally, I believe this is a basic responsibility of government (State Sen. Brad Zaun, 4/18). 

Seattle Times: Planned Parenthood Pays Off 
Do lawmakers realize what could have happened, had they barred Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds to provide preventive health care? By preserving the funding, they caught cancers of all kinds. Sexually transmitted diseases that could lead to worse things. They saved lives, saved families. Saved money in the long run. ... But now it's the Washington state Senate that needs to look women in the eye and listen ... The proposal to cut $2.25 million from the state Department of Health for family planning for the biennium is a fool's errand (Nicole Brodeur, 4/18). 

The Connecticut Mirror: Taxing Medical Procedures Doesn't Work
[P]roponents of the cosmetic tax here argue that the procedures are a luxury, performed largely on wealthy patients who can afford to pay the additional tax, despite recent studies that show the majority of patients have household incomes of less than $60K. ... But taxing medical procedures raises issues that can be difficult if not impossible to address. While the proposed tax legislation would exempt reconstructive surgery, there is often a fine line between what is deemed medically necessary and cosmetic. Some procedures are a mix of both. Who will decide which procedures should be taxed? (Dr. Patrick Felice, 4/18).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Ga. May Forfeit Health-Insurance Authority
The net effect of letting companies "sell insurance across state lines" is to gut that state-based regulation in favor of lax or non-existent regulation. Such a step is particularly hypocritical given the emphasis that Rogers and others have placed on defending Georgia's sovereignty. In effect, they're now giving it away (Jay Bookman, 4/19).

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