KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Dropping Retirees From Health Plans Is All About Accounting; Pa. Gov. Seems To Be ‘Softening’ Position On Medicaid Expansion

Bloomberg: Big Blue Punts Its Retirees To Medicare
IBM has announced that it's dumping its retiree health benefits onto the exchanges. Not the Obamacare exchanges, but a Medicare exchange. Medicare-eligible retirees will no longer be eligible for IBM's company health plan; instead they'll get a subsidy to buy supplementary Medicare coverage. Presumably, IBM being IBM, this will allow them to buy some pretty generous coverage that leaves them with relatively small out-of-pocket costs. ... This is the continuation of a trend (Time Warner Inc. announced a similar move yesterday, as did General Electric Co. last year), and though my first instinct when I saw the headline was to assume that this had something to do with Obamacare, in fact, it's a story about accounting (Megan McArdle, 9/9).

MinnPost: Obamacare Is The Worst New-Product Rollout In Memory
Obamacare is giving marketing a bad name. Regardless of what you think about the merits of the health care reform, there's no doubt that it's been the worst new-product rollout in memory (John Reinan, 9/9).

The Annals Of Family Medicine: The Affordable Care Act: Unprecedented Opportunities For Family Physicians And Public Health
Lost in the cacophony of ACA partisan rhetoric is that the costs of caring for the uninsured already accrue to our health system. That's why we pay more than twice what any other country pays per capita for health care, yet many of our population outcomes are worse. Covering the uninsured improves health outcomes and eliminates the regressive taxes of uninsured cost shifting. Family physicians, whatever their party affiliation, can help policy makers understand how ACA implementation will play out in communities. The ACA covers one-half of the nation's uninsured. I'm for that! I'll lean whichever way gets us through the door. We could try what my dad did in our house with 7 children and only 5 rooms. He removed all of the doors (Dr. Daniel J. Derksen, 9/9).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Corbett-Care: The Governor Appears To Be Rethinking Medicaid
A signal that the Corbett administration may be softening its position on Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction of helping low-income working Pennsylvanians. Administration officials plan to spend this week talking with state legislators about options for expansion in the context of broader changes for the existing Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage for poor families (9/10). 

Fox News: America, We Must Stop Obamacare Before It Becomes Hazardous To Our Health
New York's famous 42nd Street will offer natives and visitors a new sight later this week: a mammoth, six-story billboard with a striking message: "Warning—Obamacare may be hazardous to your health." It's part of The Heritage Foundation's continuing public education campaign to inform the American people about the dangerous side-effects of this unfair, unaffordable and unworkable law, and how it can be stopped (Jim DeMint, 9/10). 

Dallas News: New Taxes Coming In Health Insurance Premiums
Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, millions of uninsured Americans will be able to get health insurance regardless of their medical history. To make it affordable, the federal government will supply tax credits. To pay for it, however, a variety of taxes and fees were included in the law. Three are fees on health insurance companies (Jim Landers, 9/9).

Bloomberg: The Cost Of Training Doctors Offshore
U.S. tax dollars are financing for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean that are not accredited in the U.S., Janet Lorin reports in the October issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, putting taxpayers, students and patients at risk. The U.S. may face a doctor shortage, but this isn't the way to fix it. Thanks to a legal loophole, three schools -- American University of the Caribbean in St. Maarten and Ross University in Dominica, both owned by DeVry Inc. (DV), and privately owned St. George's University in Grenada -- received about $450 million last year in federal student loans, despite lacking the same certification as U.S. medical schools (9/10).

Los Angeles Times: Jenny McCarthy On 'The View': Trust doctors, Not Stars, On Vaccines
Those watching Jenny McCarthy's debut on ABC's "The View" this morning should keep in mind one thing: She's not qualified in the least to give you advice on vaccinating your children. McCarthy, the model and TV personality who moonlights as the anti-vaccine movement's most influential (read: dangerous) voice, sells plenty of books, speaks passionately about parenting and cracks off-color jokes. She also peddles the discredited, poisonous claims that the way we vaccinate our children against the diseases that were once regular killers of children places our young ones at greater risk of developing autism -- the kind of conspiracy theorizing that will draw only more eyeballs (Paul Thornton, 9/9).

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