KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Advice For The ‘Super Committee’; Assessing Real Health Care Costs; Should IPAB Be Blocked?

The New York Times: A Race To Repudiate Government 
If he wins, Governor Perry would certainly be the first modern major-party nominee to ridicule Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as "Ponzi schemes," and to suggest that the movement that produced them "was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution." We look forward to hearing his explanation to the millions of Americans who not only rely on social insurance but consider it one of the finest fruits of American government (8/15). 

USA Today: Our View: What Obama Should Tell 'Supercommittee'
As part of the debt-ceiling deal reached between Congress and President Obama, a bipartisan "supercommittee" has been created to cut at least $1.2 trillion from federal budget deficits over the next 10 years. Obama has promised to submit his own proposal to the panel. What we'd like to hear: ... "this plan would go after the single biggest threat to America's economic future: runaway health care costs. The plan I am outlining today asks seniors and military retirees with the means to do so to pay a bigger share of their health care costs. It continues the efforts in the 2010 health law to pay for quality of care, not quantity" (8/15). 

USA Today: Opposing View: Don't Shred The Safety Net 
For Washington's fiscal hawks, it appears the only acceptable sacrifices will be made by middle-class Americans who depend on Social Security, Medicare and other government programs. ... Means-testing Medicare won't solve our health care crisis. Raising Social Security's retirement age won't reduce our deficit. Preserving historically low tax rates for the wealthy won't put our fiscal house in order, and it certainly hasn't put Americans to work (Max Richtman, 8/15).

Los Angeles Times: Inflated Medical Bills Mask True Cost Of Care
One man's case illustrates the problem: His medicine to treat Crohn's disease runs the hospital about $6,300 per dose. But the bill he gets is for $38,000. ... Discounts and insurance cover most of that, but the system makes it virtually impossible to know the true cost of a treatment. ... It's a problem that affects all of us. As hospitals jack up prices to get more money from insurance companies, insurers in turn hike premiums for all members to cover their rising expenses. It's a vicious cycle that exacerbates the unaffordability and inaccessibility of treatment in the United States (David Lazarus, 8/16). 

Kaiser Health News: Different Takes On Cancer Care Costs: Oncologists In the Middle Of Therapies And Costs; Patients Risk 'Financial Toxicity'
Spiraling health care costs are constant issue in the national policy debate and, within this area of concern, the expense of cancer care raises especially complex and poignant issues. We asked Peter Neumann, who has surveyed oncologists; and Yousuf Zafar and Amy Abernethy, who have investigated cancer patients' experiences, for their insights (8/15).

The Baltimore Sun: Expanding Access To Health Care
Maryland is right to move ahead with plans for establishing a state health-insurance exchange, despite uncertainty over the ultimate outcome of pending court challenges to the federal health-care reform law. Even if the Supreme Court were eventually to find that all or parts of the federal law violated the Constitution - such as the individual mandate requiring everyone to buy private insurance - a vigorous state exchange would still make quality care available to thousands more Marylanders, as well as make insurance rates and coverage plans more transparent for individual consumers and small businesses (8/15). 

Orange County Register: Medicare-Cutting Panel Should Be Blocked
Washington is as polarized as ever, but there is one area of growing bipartisan consensus: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are coming together to oppose a controversial board created by last year's health car overhaul law. The Independent Payment Advisory Board was created to take difficult decisions about cutting Medicare spending out of the hands of legislators and give the powers to a panel of appointed, independent experts. ... If left in place, the IPAB will have the power to stifle innovation and harm seniors' access to medical care. It must be repealed (Grace-Marie Turner, 8/15).

Dallas Morning News: Dallas County Must Replace Parkland's Top Leadership
[T]he U.S. Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has cited Parkland for violations that could cost it hundreds of millions in federal aid dollars, if Parkland doesn't devise and implement a corrective action plan. ... Parkland is a huge asset to Dallas and Dallas County, but it can't move forward at the pace it must without new leaders (8/15). 

Georgia Health News: We Fight Cancer - And We Will Help Georgia
Ginny Walley is one of the many patients we see at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) who was treated by other facilities before coming to see us. ... [Walley] will have a new option for treatment when we open our state-of-the-art, 50-bed hospital in Newnan – not far from where she lives – next summer. ... By law, 65 percent of the patients we serve must originate from outside Georgia's borders, creating a sense of medical tourism (Kane Dawson, 8/15).

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