KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Navigators Become ‘Major Friction Point;’ Conservative Opponents Of Health Law Take Tactics From Civil Rights Conflict

The Washington Post: Obamacare Navigators Are Necessary
In the fierce debate over what would become the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the signature policy achievement of President Obama's first term, there was relatively little to-do over the question of the bill's so-called navigators. ... But in the years since the ACA became law, navigators have become a major friction point in the push to unravel Obamacare in state legislatures across the country. Insurance brokers and agents have led the charge, insisting that navigators will impede their ability to do business (9/6).

The Los Angeles Times: Obamacare: New Fight, Old Tactics
Last month, Americans took pride in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Unfortunately, we are also revisiting a far darker episode in our history, a civil rights-era conflict that tells us much about the hurdles facing President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the most ambitious piece of social legislation enacted in almost half a century. That episode was the "massive resistance," a policy pushed by a phalanx of Southern white politicians, journalists and local worthies. ... Today, the Republican opponents of Obamacare, and especially those hailing from the old Confederacy, have dusted off just about every tactic and ruse once deployed by Southern segregationists (Nelson Lichtenstein, 9/8).

The New York Times: The Wonk Gap
So, another week, another denunciation of Obamacare. Who cares? But [Sen. John] Barrasso's remarks were actually interesting, although not in the way he intended. You see, all the recent news on health costs has been good. So Mr. Barrasso is predicting sticker shock precisely when serious fears of such a shock are fading fast. Why would he do that (Paul Krugman, 9/8)?

Los Angeles Times: Conservatives Are Unembarrassed By A History Of Being Wrong
And on into the 20th century, it was conservatives who fought against the franchise for women, Social Security, Medicare and racial integration. More recently, they have stood in the way of gay rights and universal health care. Even when they had the right idea – opposing Communism – they were prone to dangerous excess – McCarthyism. To be fair, the best conservative intellectuals and political leaders have provided a useful tempering of the enthusiasms of liberal social engineers. But on so many of the biggest challenges that have faced the nation, the conservatives of each era have ended up on the wrong side of history (David Horsey, 9/5).

The Washington Post: Bipartisan Rx For Health-Care Costs
"When we started this 18 months ago," Tom Daschle told me, "we assumed that there could be a grand bargain." The former Senate majority leader, a Democrat, laughed ruefully, as did his companions. Daschle was visiting The Post last week with Republican Bill Frist, also a former majority leader; former senator Pete Domenici, longtime head of the budget committee; and Alice Rivlin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office. ... In the year and a half Daschle referred to, the four former officials had crafted, under the auspices of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a plan to improve U.S. health care while controlling costs. But they no longer had any illusion that it could become one component of a larger effort to increase revenue and tame entitlement programs — to get the federal debt under control (Fred Hiatt, 9/8).

The Wall Street Journal: The Breakthrough Of Instant Diagnosis
[Elizabeth] Holmes, a 29-year-old chemical and electrical engineer and entrepreneur, dropped out of Stanford as an undergraduate after founding a life sciences company called Theranos in 2003. Her inventions, which she is discussing in detail here for the first time, could upend the industry of laboratory testing and might change the way we detect and treat disease (Rago, 9/8). 

Tampa Bay Times: The Smart Business Of Health
The chairman and CEO of Florida Blue, the state's largest health insurer and a not-for-profit company, told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board last week that "wellness and prevention" are key to containing health care costs. He wants to create financial incentives for patient-centered care, even if that means paying primary care physicians more. And he is flat-out opposed to Florida's decision to reject Medicaid expansion for nearly a million poor, uninsured adults. This is where he's picked a fight with Florida Republicans (Robyn E. Blumner, 9/5).

Dallas News: Rep. Burgess' Plan To Better Pay Medicare Physicians
Often, it seems like Washington can never get things done. Problems fester while solutions remain elusive. But to his credit, Dr. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, has defied the odds. The House member has found a bipartisan way to fix the way Medicare reimburses physicians (9/8).

Forbes: ObamaCare Will Make Us Smarter Healthcare Consumers
Obviously [the health law] expands the government's role in healthcare, especially by requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty, and it will bring up to 21 million people onto the government-paid Medicaid roles. However, private insurance, which covers 58% of Americans, will remain the dominant source of medical benefits. And people with private insurance will find that big brother is not taking care of them. In fact, they will be ever more exposed to the cost of their care. As a result, they will be forced to become smarter healthcare consumers (Todd Hixon, 9/9).

Forbes: Obamacare's Worst Feature? It's Wedded To 50-Year-Old Assumptions About Health And Insurance
It’s ironic that at the very moment that Obamacare is poised to spend nearly $2 trillion to expand traditional insurance coverage to about 30 million uninsured, new synergies between genomics companies and providers, advanced diagnostics for remotely monitoring patient treatment and detecting serious illness at earlier stages, and a wave of mobile health apps are unraveling old assumptions about how care should be delivered and financed (Paul Howard, 9/9).

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