KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Real’ Medicare Cuts?; HIV/AIDS Prevention Push; Contraceptive Coverage

The Wall Street Journal: More Medicare Cuts*
*Well, not really. A primer on the debt deal's health-care bookkeeping. ... All politicians-but these days especially Democrats-like to pretend they'll pay providers somewhat less in the future, despite knowing that is unlikely to happen in practice. Medicare's prospective payments are low enough that further reductions may jeopardize access to care and in many cases threaten the viability of hospitals and physician practices. So the main effect of these "cuts" is merely to move future spending off the federal balance sheet (8/4). 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Pro & Con: The Spending Cuts Won't Harm Growth And Will Offer The Chance To Fix Long-Term Problems
It was a terrible process, but a good result.  ... The agreement removes the threat of default and lowers the prospect of using the debt limit as an instrument of coercion. It should not be possible for a small minority to threaten catastrophe if the rest of the government decides not to embrace an extreme agenda of austerity and the dismantling of programs for the elderly and the less fortunate (Timothy Geithner, 8/3).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: By Ducking Entitlements, The Deal Ensures Deficits That Are Unsustainable
The deficit reduction compromise reached by the president and Congressional Republicans makes spending cuts of about $1 trillion over 10 years across all areas of government except the two areas creating the biggest problems - Social Security and accelerating Medicare and Medicaid costs (Peter Morici, 8/3).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: On To The Committee
America's deficit problem now passes to a new super committee of Congress, which could lead to an honest attempt to craft an evenhanded solution - or more political dillydallying. ... If it fails to reach agreement, a series of automatic cuts will take effect - half from the defense budget. Unfortunately, this incentive for action is weakened by the fact that the new debt ceiling law shields programs for the poor and Social Security and limits cuts to Medicare (8/3). 

The Washington Post: The Administration's Wise Decision To Cover Contraceptives
Last year's health-care reform law ushered in a new approach to encouraging preventive medicine. It required new insurance plans to cover preventive services free of copayments or other charges. The law left it to the Institute of Medicine to make the initial recommendations about what services should be covered. Last month, the institute sensibly recommended that all FDA-approved contraceptives be included. This week, the Obama administration announced that it would adopt those guidelines. This is the right move, but one complicated by the fact that some people have moral or religious objections to some or all contraceptives (8/3). 

CNN: Prevention The Key In New Push On HIV/AIDS 
The CDC recently took major steps to reach those at greatest risk and bolster prevention efforts in communities where they are most needed with its latest HIV prevention funding opportunity for state and local health departments. ... But success against HIV will require more than smart use of financial resources. We also need to overcome complacency about the disease, which surveys show is at an all-time high, since many Americans falsely believe the scourge of the epidemic is behind us (Dr. Jonathan Mermin, 8/4).

Georgia Health News: Medicaid At A Crossroads 
[T]he House budget plan that would repeal health reform and convert Medicaid into a block grant program would place a federal cap on Medicaid spending. With this proposed reduction in federal Medicaid spending, states would lose critical federal dollars that they rely on each year to cover low-income Americans ... This proposal is flawed on multiple levels. Morally, we are depriving our patients of quality health care (Dr. Gayathri Suresh Kumar, 8/3). 

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