KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

OpEds: How Debt Panel ‘Punted’ On Health Costs; Sustainable ‘Doc Fix;’ Arizona ‘Death Panel;’ Sebelius On Flu Vaccine

KHN Column: How The Health Reform Game Has Changed
In this Kaiser Health News column, Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll write: "By some accounts, the Republican takeover of the House is a game changer for health reform. Already, it has reinvigorated debate over the law, and the media have focused on what federal legislators can or will do to alter it. But more attention should be directed elsewhere. The future trajectory of health reform will be shaped far more by interest group agendas and state-level actions than by the new House leadership's stated plans. Not only has the game changed, but so have the most important players" (12/9). 

Roll Call: Debt Panel Punted on Health Care Cost Plan
Maybe the most compelling product of President Barack Obama's deficit commission isn't even in its groundbreaking final report. It's the bipartisan proposal by the panel's health care subcommittee, former White House budget director Alice Rivlin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to keep Medicare and Medicaid from overwhelming the federal budget. And it's a market-based step toward a better national health care reform than Obamacare, which Ryan - and many other experts in both parties - believe will explode health costs, not contain them (Morton Kondracke, 12/9).

USA Today: Medicare Need Sustainable 'Doc Fix'
Last week I saved Medicare a lot of money. A patient of mine had some abnormalities in her lab work. I could have easily sent her to the emergency room, but because she was hesitant to go, I managed her medical problem in my office and over the phone. I got paid only for a 45-minute office visit, not for two hours on the phone. Even so, my patient was happy and well; her care was a good value for Medicare (Dr. Tara Bishop, 12/7). 

Denver Post: Congress Must Act To Protect Seniors
With all the attention to political divisions in our country, there's one issue on which older Americans are firmly united: Congress has a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program. ... Because of that flawed payment system, many doctors resist taking on new Medicare patients because they don't know whether Medicare will pay them what it costs to care for seniors. We need to reverse this trend, not speed it up  (Morie Smile, 12/9).

USA Today: Everyone Needs The Flu Vaccine
One of the best gifts you can give your family and friends during the holiday season is getting your flu shot. Every year, flu kills thousands of Americans and sends about 200,000 more to the hospital. Getting vaccinated is a safe, effective way to keep yourself healthy. ... This year for the first time ever, the nation's top flu scientists have said that every American 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine (Kathleen Sebelius, 12/8).

The Dallas Morning News: You're Fat? Your Fault, McVictims
The McVictim syndrome spins a convenient – and unhealthy – narrative on America's emerging preventable disease crisis. McVictimization teaches Americans to think that obesity is someone else's fault – and therefore, someone else's problem to solve (David Gratzer, 12/8).

The Dallas Morning News: Insurer Blue Cross Is Trying To Cut Its Dallas-Area Health Care Costs With Texas Health Resources
The private sector may be about to show whether it's up to the job of curbing the escalating cost of medical care in Dallas. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is fighting with Texas Health Resources Inc. about cost increases over the next three years (12/8).

The Arizona Republic: Yes, Gov. Brewer, Arizona Does Have A Death Panel
If elected officials make budget decisions that determine whether sick people live or die - and they choose the latter - they are a death panel (E. J. Montini, 12/9).

The Boston Globe: Let Me Meditain You
Our seemingly insatiable thirst for health programming, or medi-tainment, has catapulted shows like The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors to the top of the charts. But the content is often confusing. For example, Dr. Oz reports that an inseam measurement less than 29 inches indicates childhood malnutrition and possible organ damage. As a petite woman, I thought it indicated short parents and the need for a good tailor (Eileen Boylen, 12/9). 

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