KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Romney’s Shifts Back To Moderate?; His Misleading Comments On Pre-Existing Conditions; Debate’s Half-Truths

The New York Times: Moderate Mitt Returns!
Far from being a pitchfork-wielding populist who wants to raze Washington, Romney said he would work with the people he finds there. ... He bragged that in his old job as governor, he met with Democrats every week. He boasted about his bipartisan health care bill. ... he gave us a hint of a strong center-right pragmatic approach. It starts with 1986-style tax reform and Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform and then offers a glimpse of experimental pragmatism on most everything else. ... Democrats call it hypocrisy; I call it progress (David Brooks, 10/4). 

The New York Times: Romney's Sick Joke
"No. 1," declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday's debate, "pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan." No, they aren't — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate. ... Also, many Americans have health insurance but live under the continual threat of losing it. Obamacare would eliminate this threat, but Mr. Romney would bring it back and make it worse (Paul Krugman, 10/4). 

Journal of the American Medical Association: The First Debate: Adjudicating Health Care
Most pundits appear to have concluded that Romney won on style; I have little basis to judge that. But I can judge the health care policy statements, and based on those, I reached the opposite conclusion of the pundits. Romney made a variety of bold statements related to health care, but they don’t stand up to scrutiny (David Cutler, 10/4). 

The Wall Street Journal: Informed Independents Cool To ObamaCare
One of the debate's major topics was health care, about which it is assumed the public has also largely made up its mind, either for or against ObamaCare. ... Independent Women's Voice, an educational advocacy organization that runs the Repeal Pledge calling for the elimination of ObamaCare, believes that opinions about health care can be changed (Heather R. Higgins and Hadley Heath, 10/4).

Los Angeles Times: Presidential Debate: Dueling Half-Truths
When asked why he wanted to repeal Obamacare, Romney said one reason was that "it puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have." He repeated that assertion five times as the evening went on. Romney was referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board ... However, the law constrains the board in a way that seems to preclude dictating which medical procedures are and are not available (Jon Healey, 10/4).

The Wall Street Journal: No Easy Answers In Effort To Curb Health Spending
My book about the federal budget, which emphasizes the fiscal significance of rising health spending (it was 10% of federal spending in 1960, is 25% today and is headed to 33% within a decade), has many readers asking: Isn't it true that we spend huge sums on people who are in their last year of life, and isn't finding a socially acceptable way to stop doing that the best way to slow health-care spending? The short answer: Yes to the first part, no to the second (David Wessel, 10/4).

The Sacramento Bee: Supreme Court Allows States To Opt Out Of Medicaid Expansion; They Should
[E]xpanding Medicaid was a central tenet of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. ... States are already having difficulty finding enough physicians willing to accept Medicaid patients, largely because of the program's low reimbursement rates. Expanding patient rolls by a third will only exacerbate this problem (Nina Owcharenko, 10/4).

Los Angeles Times: Don't Need That Drug Refill? Here It Is Anyway
You already knew that our healthcare system is screwy. But you probably didn't know that at least some pharmacists at CVS, the nation's second-largest drugstore chain, were refilling prescriptions and submitting claims to insurers without patients' approval (David Lazarus, 10/5).

CNN: Health Care Act's Glaring Omission: Liability Reform
Although not a panacea for the health problems in the United States, the need for physicians to practice defensive medicine in order to avoid potential litigation has far-reaching consequences. ... In [Massachusetts] alone, an estimated $281 million in unnecessary physician costs and more than $1 billion in excessive hospital costs was due to the practice of defensive medicine. Across the country, doctors are ordering tests and consultations as a way to protect themselves from potential liability (Dr. Anthony Youn, 10/5).

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