KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Expediting SCOTUS Health Law Review; Birth Control Funding; Budget Cutting And The Stock Market

The Washington Post: Getting The New Health-Care Law Before The Supreme Court 
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the extraordinary step of leapfrogging past federal appeals courts to decide the constitutionality of the new health-care law. ... The states' desire for swiftness and certainty is understandable. But a better approach is available. Although it is a near certainty that the law's status will ultimately be determined by the high court, the justices would benefit from the considered judgment of appellate courts. Rushed cases make bad law (2/13). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Supreme Court Must Act Quickly
Without an answer from the Supreme Court, health providers and states have two unacceptable choices: They can continue investing time and resources to comply, knowing that this may all go to waste if a key portion of the law (or the entire law) is declared unconstitutional at some point, or they can gamble by suspending preparations. The risk of standing pat is that they would likely face an insurmountable amount of ground to make up if the law is upheld (2/12). 

USA Today: Our View: Health Law Needs The Individual Mandate
But now even some Democrats are talking about trying to get rid of the mandate, so it's worth revisiting. Is something so unpopular really necessary? The short answer is yes. Health reform won't work without it, or something like it. At the heart of reform is a deal: Insurance companies will quit doing the things they do to save money and limit their own risk, such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions or snatching away coverage on flimsy pretexts when people get sick. In return, insurers will get an influx of new customers, many young and healthy (2/13). 

USA Today: Opposing View: Health Law Is Beyond Saving
New efforts to try to save the controversial law by tweaking the individual mandate directly contradict the case made by reform supporters that the mandate is essential to making the new law work. In addition, the individual mandate isn't the only component of the health care law that goes in the wrong direction (Sen. Chuck Grassley, 2/13).

Fox News: Effort To Choke Tax-Payer Funding To Planned Parenthood 
On Thursday, a contingent of pro-life representatives and organization leaders kicked off a renewed effort to choke off funding for Planned Parenthood at a packed press conference. The event came on the heels of several new pieces of legislation that are expected to move quickly under the Republican-controlled House. ... We, as taxpayers, must stand up to the abortion industry and its special interest groups who are enabling this flow of money from taxpayer wallets into the pockets of the abortion industry (Kristan Hawkins and Marjorie Dannenfelser, 2/12). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Planned Parenthood CEO: Title X
As Congress sets budget priorities, let us pause to consider the short-sightedness of zeroing out the country's Title X family planning program ... In Minnesota, Planned Parenthood's 21 Title X-supported clinics -- which serve communities from Bemidji to Fairmont -- provide birth control; breast and cervical cancer screenings; pelvic exams and pap smears; high blood pressure, diabetes and anemia screening; testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV; basic infertility services; pregnancy testing, and comprehensive health education. (Which of the services on this list would you withhold from unemployed and uninsured women?) ... No Title X funds have ever been used for abortion (Sarah Stoetz, 2/13). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Do 'Pro-Lifers' Really Care About Babies? 
Generally speaking, there's a glaring contradiction in the ideology of anti-abortion proponents: They are passionate about the fetus but indifferent - if not hostile - to actual babies who need a generous social safety net. The same voters who protest Roe vs. Wade usually oppose traditional welfare for poor women, government-funded health care benefits for impoverished children and housing subsidies for poor families (Cynthia Tucker, 2/11).  

The Arizona Republic: Lesson Learned: Reaching Out To Mentally Ill Is A Must
Admittedly, cuts in Medicaid eligibility in Arizona and around the country have left thousands who need mental-health care without the full range of services that would benefit them. We must work to achieve a fiscal conscience that will restore eligibility to more of our citizens in need. Meanwhile, we should keep in mind that despite the cuts in Medicaid eligibility, "there have been no cuts in behavioral health care in Arizona Medicaid," explains Dr. Laura Nelson, a psychiatrist and deputy director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services at the Arizona Department of Health Services (Reginald Ballantyne, 2/12).  

Bloomberg: Stocks Likely To Bleed If Congress Cuts Budget
Health-care companies relying on revenue from Medicare are also under the sword of Damocles. ... If Congress can't revamp the defense budget too much, it may have to cut health-care spending more than it otherwise would. That could mean lowering reimbursement rates for Medicare or Medicaid, or restricting permissible expenses, or both. Health maintenance organizations that get a large slice of their revenue from Medicare seem vulnerable (John Dorfman, 2/13).  


The Washington Post: Why Other States Should Adopt Maryland's Law On Doctor Self-Referrals 
Doctors are not permitted to sell the medicine they prescribe, and for an excellent reason: It would be a conflict of interest, creating financial incentive for physicians to peddle drugs of little or no benefit to patients. So why should doctors be allowed to both order and administer MRIs, CT scans and other high-tech procedures that may or may not be needed and useful? (2/13). 

Related, earlier KHN story: Health Law Changes Rules For Docs With In-House Imaging Machines (Galewitz, 8/23/10)

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