KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: GOP’s ‘War’ On Family Planning; State Workers’ Health Costs; Health Law Already Hurting U.S.

Houston Chronicle: Deficit Duplicity
A bill passed by the Republican-controlled House last week would cut $75 million in funding to Planned Parenthood that is spent for family planning assistance. A broader, related assault would totally eliminate Title X, a $317 million family planning program enacted in 1970 and signed by President Richard Nixon. ... Although the alleged motive for the cuts is deficit reduction, a clear aim is to cripple a leading provider of abortion services - and at high cost of essential medical care for Houston-area women. ... Last year Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which serves Southeast Texas and Louisiana at 12 health centers, provided for more than 110,400 health care visits. ... The agency estimates that more than 18,000 unwanted pregnancies were prevented through contraceptives (2/22).

The Washington Post: Side Effects Of The GOP's War On Family Planning
House Republicans voted to increase the number of abortions, raise federal health-care costs and swell the welfare rolls. ... it is the predictable and inevitable impact of their twin moves to eliminate funding for the federal family planning program and strip Planned Parenthood of all federal money. ... Republicans voted to let more women die from breast cancer, cervical cancer and AIDS. How's that? The family planning programs also provide cancer screening and HIV counseling to millions of low-income and uninsured people (Ruth Marcus, 2/23).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care
The Republicans who now control the House of Representatives hope to repeal or defund ObamaCare, but the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes that will not be undone by repeal or defunding alone. Active steps and new laws will be needed to repair the damage. The most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry (Lloyd M. Krieger, 2/23). 

The Seattle Times: Solve Health-Care Challenge By Reducing Costs, Not Shifting More Costs To Workers
Continuing to "solve" the high cost of medical benefits by cost-shifting to employees will only deter budget-minded members from seeking care during the earliest, least expensive stages of chronic-disease development. The conversation should be about dialing back the cost of the benefits and providing a multifaceted approach to reclaiming and reinvesting the wasted dollars spent month after month. The cost-shifting solution is about maintaining the norm, which is to contain health-plan inflation at the national trend of about 10 percent a year (Cynthia M. Cole, 2/22). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Will Wisconsin Become Another France?
Public-employee unions, grown arrogant from decades of ever-more generous benefit packages, are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto their gains. They exhibit no willingness to help shoulder any of the costs the taxpayers at-large have to pay in these rough economic times. ... Whether we become another France – a country long held hostage to powerful unions and debilitating social benefit programs – or begin the slow but vital climb back up the ladder from the depths of government entitlements and deficit-spending, may be determined right here, right now, in Madison, Wisconsin (Bob Barr, 2/23). 

The Denver Post: In Colorado, Health Care Reform Means Lower Costs 
A new Colorado Trust issue brief, titled "The Economic Impact of Health Reform in Colorado," projects that as a result of national health care reform, insurance premiums are expected to be nearly $2,000 less per year for individual coverage by 2019, or nearly $4,000 less for family coverage than they would be without reform. ... Even as Colorado and its citizens are poised to realize economic gains as a result of federal health care reform, these savings may not be achieved if we do not commit to the full and careful implementation of the Accountable Care Act (Dr. Ned Calonge, 2/22).  

The Arizona Republic: Another Legislative Mystery: Taking Aim At Disabled
I will freely admit that there is little about the Arizona Legislature that I understand anymore. ... I really don't understand what they're doing to some of the most-vulnerable among us: people with developmental disabilities. In the name of providing choice, our leaders have proposed closing four state-run intermediate-care facilities. The bill has been softened as word spreads, but closure remains an option. Some residents are terrified that they may be forced out of the only home they've ever lived in without fear of abuse or neglect (Laurie Roberts, 2/23).

The Des Moines Register: Restore Iowa Nursing-Home Inspectors
Only weeks into the job, the new director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals eliminated 10 of the state's 38 nursing home inspectors. The result will be less oversight of these facilities. But Rod Roberts says Iowans shouldn't see it as anything other than a reflection of the state's budget challenges. … Lawmakers and the new director of DIA should be sure Iowa has the right priorities: advocating for vulnerable Iowans and not the powerful nursing-home industry (2/22). 

The Wall Street Journal: Vaccines 1, Lawyers 0
Science and public health got a booster shot yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that vaccine makers can't be sued in state courts for injuries supposedly caused by their vaccines. The decision was an important strike against a scare campaign that has caused too many parents to put their children at risk by refusing to inoculate them (2/23).  

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.