KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Sebelius, Orszag On Medicare Costs; Has The Minnesota GOP Lost Its Way?

Politico: Improving The Medicare We Already Have
The right way is to strengthen it, closing coverage gaps while also bringing down costs by improving care and reducing waste and fraud. Medicare's trustees estimate that the new health care law has already added eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund by doing just that. The president's fiscal framework would put the program on even more solid ground in the future (Kathleen Sebelius, 5/25).

Bloomberg: Sharing Costs Is No Way to Fix Medicare
The core problem is that health-care costs are concentrated among expensive treatments for chronic diseases and end-of-life care -– and even consumer-directed approaches retain deep third-party insurance against such cases (which is, after all, the whole point of insurance). Consider that, if you rank Medicare beneficiaries by cost, one-quarter of patients account for more than 85 percent of total costs. So even if the other 75 percent spend less on doctors and medicine, they can't take a significant bite out of the total (Peter Orszag, 5/24).

The Chicago Tribune: The Rhubarb Patch: Medicare Reform
To Dennis Byrne, from Eric Zorn: Let's talk Medicare! Health care costs are outpacing inflation, baby boomers are flooding into the 65-plus age eligibility bracket every day and there's broad consensus in the land that something must be done. But if you look at opinion polls, that first "something" is to preserve this entitlement program. ... From Dennis, To Eric: Incontestably, Medicare, if preserved as it is, is doomed. As for a solution, I - who have enjoyed its many benefits for four years - might have insights (Eric Zorn and Dennis Byrne, 5/24).  

Kaiser Health News: Prevention: The Answer To Curbing Chronically High Health Care Costs (Guest Opinion)
Largely preventable and highly manageable chronic diseases account for 75 cents of every dollar we spend on health care in the U.S. In contrast, we spend less than 5 cents on prevention ...  lowering health care costs long-term depends on addressing what drives those costs – diabetes and other chronic diseases. We have to make the investment in the ounce of prevention to realize the pound of cure (Kenneth Thorpe and Jonathan Lever, 5/24). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The State's GOP Has Lost Its Way- And Many Party Veterans Know It
This is not your mother's Minnesota Republican Party over at the Legislature, which broke up Monday night without a budget deal. ... Some of the sharpest criticism of legislation adopted by the Republican majorities has come from those who held elective office as members of Your Mother's GOP. Former Gov. Arne Carlson helped create MinnesotaCare. It provides affordable health care for 160,000 Minnesotans. GOP legislation would turn it into a voucher system (Wayne Cox, 5/24).

The Journal of the American Medical Association: Are Patients Knights, Knaves, Or Pawns?
The success of innovations in care that seek to improve coordination and reduce unnecessary and harmful overuse will rely on effective connections to the motivations of patients toward better health. … Unless patients trust that clinicians have their best interests first and foremost, any barriers to seeking service will be seen simply as money-saving measures (Dr. Sachin H. Jain and John Rother, 5/24). 

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