Viewpoints: Spotlight On Insurance Industry; Local Health Costs Rising; Obesity Debate
Los Angeles Times: The Problem With Perry
The GOP candidate's positions are not a vision of the future for the U.S. but of a discredited past. ... Perry's proposed fixes for the healthcare system — tort reform, individual (rather than employer-sponsored) ownership of health insurance, portability of plans for people who move or change jobs — would do nothing to slow the growth of healthcare costs or reduce the number of uninsured Americans (8/28).
The New York Times: Penetrating the Gibberish
Anyone who has ever tried to read a health insurance policy knows how hard it is to find out what the plan actually covers and how much it will cost. The Obama administration proposed welcome new rules this month that would make it a lot easier for consumers to compare one policy with another — on cost and coverage — before signing up (8/27).
Los Angeles Times: Medicare Fraud: Obama Administration Brings Enforcement Into The 21st Century [Blowback]
[O]ver the last two years the Obama administration has undertaken an ambitious effort to rid Medicare of criminals, and we are turning the electronic payment system to our advantage in that fight. Since President Obama took office, we have conducted an unprecedented crackdown on those who steal from Medicare, giving law enforcement greater resources, putting more boots on the ground and increasing penalties. In 2010, these efforts recovered a record $4 billion in taxpayer money (Peter Budetti, 8/27).
Kansas City Star: Contraceptive Coverage Should Be The Rule, Not The Exception
Those who oppose family planning cannot be permitted to allow their ideology to dictate others' health care. To do otherwise would mark a dismaying retreat from rationality in women's health policy (Laura W. Murphy, 8/29).
Modern Healthcare: HIPAA Humdrum
On Feb. 22, as the 15th anniversary of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act approached, HHS' Office for Civil Rights fired off the health information privacy equivalent of the shot heard round the world: It actually fined someone for violating the law (Emily Friedman, 8/29).
The Baltimore Sun: Improve Medicaid Bureaucracy Before Cutting Services
In response to the Maryland General Assembly's mandate to slash an additional $40 million from this year's fiscal budget, the state's Medicaid Advisory Committee (MAC) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) are being forced to consider a series of radical cost-cutting measures for the state's Medicaid program. Make no mistake: Spending must be curbed. It's how costs are contained that matters (Gene M. Ransom III, 8/29).
Des Moines Register: 'Obamacare' Attacks Solvency Of Health Insurers
Obamacare encourages state politicians to increase their interference with health-insurance premiums, and this is an an underreported aspect of the law with consequences for patients and health plans alike. ... the future wave of political interference threatens the solvency of health plans (John Graham, 8/28).
Sacramento Bee: Controlling Costs Must Be Paramount In Health Care Reform
The pace of implementation is only going to quicken over the next three years. Not getting on board now means abdicating any responsibility for the outcome. That's why the Bay Area Council has and will continue to be engaged in this critical task of working toward a system with universal access to quality, affordable health care (Jim Wunderman, 8/29).
Kaiser Health News: Different Takes: Mass. Public Employees Find Hard-Fought Compromise On Municipal Health Care Costs
These local jurisdictions, in the face of serious budget constraints, have repeatedly pushed for legal relief that would enable them to decrease the burden of public employees' and retirees' health benefit costs. Meanwhile, public employee unions have battled to protect what they believe their members have earned through their collective bargaining rights. In this state-policy drama, key players managed to come to a compromise that neither side loves, but both view as a solution. Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and Paul Toner, president of Massachusetts Teachers Association, offer their respective insights (8/28).
Los Angeles Times: Putting Health Coverage Within Reach
To bring health insurance to more Americans, the federal healthcare reform law calls for billions of dollars in subsidies for lower-income households. The law gives states an option, though, that could cut costs while also making the coverage more affordable. Called a Basic Health Program, it would serve as a transitional step between Medicaid and the private insurance plans. A bill by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) to create such an option in California is pending. Lawmakers should approve it (8/29).
Los Angeles Times: Pro/Con: Does Obesity Qualify As Child Abuse?
Those in favor of temporarily removing morbidly obese kids from their parents say that if social workers don't step in, children may die. Those against it say it's an overreach of government power and that the unproven benefits don't justify the trauma of removal. Read on for two takes on the issue (Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Dr. Norman Fost and David Orentlicher, 8/29).