Viewpoints: Health Reform ‘Tax’ Vs. ‘Penalty’; Super Committee Forecast; Boomer Tsunami
The New York Times: Gov. Brownback's Selective Budget Worries
In a foolhardy indulgence of partisan ideology, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas is returning a $31.5 million federal grant that would have made his state a leader in technology development for the new federal health care law. He joins other Republican governors willing to sell their constituents short in grandstanding against the health care law from statehouse pulpits (8/14).
Fox News: Health Reform Hangs On Two Tiny Words
Let the hair-splitting and flip-flopping begin. Watch how fast the White House will backtrack from its position that health reform's insurance mandate really does not levy a tax, but a penalty, on taxpayers if they don't buy health insurance by 2014. ... So far, none of the six judges on the appeals court level who have been asked so far to weigh in on the constitutionality of health reform have accepted the government's argument that the individual mandate is justified due to Congress's constitutional power to tax (Elizabeth MacDonald, 8/12).
CNN: Super Committee Can't Tackle Real Debt Problem
A super committee recommendation of a real solution, like Bowles-Simpson, is also unlikely. The target is a paltry $1.5 trillion. The most likely outcome is that the committee will make it. The second most likely outcome is that the trigger will be pulled. Either outcome will leave about three-quarters of the job undone. Until the major drivers of deficits and debt are one the table -- entitlements -- the Congress will be playing touch football with the deficit/debt problem (William Frenzel, 8/12).
Los Angeles Times: Boomer Time Bomb
With legions of baby boomers starting to retire, a growing number of Americans will soon need some kind of long-term healthcare, whether from a nursing home or from an in-home health aide. A new survey by the SCAN Foundation and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, however, finds that Californians are woefully underprepared for the cost of such services. The survey is a wake-up call to the public, as well as a warning sign to lawmakers who want to pull the plug preemptively on a new federal insurance program for long-term care (8/15).
The Fiscal Times: Australia's Long View of the Aging Dilemma
The Australians recognize that economic success in the coming decades will hinge on how they deal with aging populations that shortly will comprise a stunning one quarter of their overall population. ... No matter how much better, more efficient and compassionate the care becomes, the older model that presumes dependence over 65 is no longer viable. We must shift the paradigm to enable some reasonable percentage of those in the traditional retired cohort to remain economically active (Michael Hodin, 8/11).
The Baltimore Sun: A Big Step Forward For Women's Health
Perhaps lost in the cacophony of the debt ceiling debate in Congress was news that the federal government will now require insurance companies to provide a substantial list of preventative care measures for women It is a shame that the objections focused on free birth control pills, to the exclusion of so many other medical services that will soon be provided to women without charge. ... At the end of the day, this is more than just about making women feel loved and appreciated by providing preventative health care for them. It is about keeping the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of this country on their feet and caring for the rest of us (Susan Reimer, 8/15).
Chicago Tribune: Prevention's Costs
Through screenings, vaccinations and medications, Americans can be healthier and avoid major medical bills. That's why the new law declared that some preventive measures should be covered without co-pays or other out-of-pocket expenses to patients. ... But remember this rule of thumb: In general, preventive care doesn't save money. ... Only those screenings and other health measures that show the greatest benefits for the cost should be covered without out-of-pocket payment (8/13).
The Washington Post: How The Government Creates 'Medicaid Moguls'
There was a time, not that long ago, when states routinely warehoused children and adults with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy under appallingly inhumane conditions. Repeated scandals in the 1960s and '70s involving New York's notoriously overcrowded Willowbrook State School led to lawsuits and major reforms. This necessary change cost tens of billions of dollars, paid for in large part by Medicaid, which began to support institutional care of the developmentally disabled in the 1980s (8/13).
Arizona Republic: Ariz. Has Means To Salvage Medicaid Coverage
A solution to a fiscal and humanitarian crisis here in Arizona is available. Why in the world don't we act on it? The solution would prevent tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients from losing health-care coverage, a blow that would ripple throughout our struggling economy. Here's our problem: To help balance the budget, the state has frozen enrollment for low-income childless adults (currently numbering 222,000 Arizonans) in the Medicaid program (Reginald Ballantyne, 8/13).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New Issues Could Hurt Aims Of Blue Cross Health Funds
Money from the Blue Cross Blue Shield conversion has supported scores of research and education projects coordinated through the UW and the Medical College of Wisconsin. They include research on electronic health records, infectious diseases, regenerative medicine, Alzheimer's disease in African-Americans, prenatal care and accident prevention. These projects often include partners such as the Marshfield Clinic and Prevention Genetics, and they serve as a platform for attracting additional merit-based grants from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. So, it's an unabashed "good news" story for Wisconsin? Not entirely (Tom Still, 8/13).
Denver Post: Find 'Whys' Of Drug Shortages
The severe and recurring shortages of prescription drugs vital to missions such as fighting cancer, reviving heart attack victims and relieving pain are a troubling health care problem that must be resolved. Recently introduced legislation that would compel companies to tell the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about situations that could develop into shortages, and would give the FDA new power to address them, is a good start (8/14).
Des Moines Register: Medical Journal Mistakes Worrisome
Patients don't want to rely on Google to know how others have fared after a certain surgery. Few of us can wade through medical journals, databases and studies you need a Ph.D. to understand. We rely on our doctors. In fact, we frequently rely on the judgment and experience of a single doctor, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office on comparing the effectiveness of medical treatments in the United States. ... medical journals simply must do a better job (8/13).