KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Opposition To Medicaid Dooming The South; Obama’s ‘Blank Check’ For Insurers; One Woman’s Quest For Coverage

The New York Times: The South's New Lost Cause
As inapt as those comparisons are, what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States (Timothy Egan, 11/21).

The New York Times' The Conscience Of A Liberal: News Cycle Delusions
The only thing the GOP could do with any real impact would be to sabotage the law. And they're doing that as best they can by blocking the Medicaid expansion. But if the exchanges begin to work even passably well, that won't be enough — when people, including the young, realize that real insurance is available at affordable prices, political propaganda won't keep them away (Paul Krugman, 11/21). 

The New York Times' Economix: A Conservative Alternative To Obamacare
Anticipating, or hoping, that the Affordable Care Act will collapse under the weight of its own architecture and the lack of managerial competence with which it is being put in place, The Journal exhorts Republicans to "revitalize and improve the old individual insurance market" as an alternative to the new system. For decades that “old individual insurance market” was widely viewed as dysfunctional. ... So it is fair to ask precisely what improvements in that dysfunctional market The Journal has in mind. As is well known, in health reform the angels and the devils live in the details (Uwe E. Reinhardt, 11/22). 

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Puzzle Takes New Twists And Turns
The Rubik's Cube that is healthcare reform might have become even more puzzling for some people Thursday after the operator of California's online insurance exchange rejected President Obama's call for extending the life of canceled policies. Covered California said it'll stick with its Dec. 31 deadline. All plans that don't comply with the requirements of Obamacare must go adios by that day. Unless, that is, they've been grandfathered in (David Lazarus, 11/21). 

Los Angeles Times: Covered California To President Obama: Sorry, No
Defying President Obama, the board of directors for the state's new health insurance exchange, Covered California, voted unanimously Thursday not to allow the 11 insurers that are selling plans on the exchange to revive their canceled policies. Meanwhile, new statistics emerged that shed more light on the people losing their policies and the ones signing up through the exchange (Jon Healey, 11/21).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: The Insiders: New Obamacare Marketing – 'Sign Up And Shut Up Or The IRS Will Be Calling'
How does the White House think they will "remarket" Obamacare to voters? Telling the truth could not possibly achieve good results. The truth reveals that under Obamacare, you can't keep your current insurance plan unless Obama's Washington likes it, you can't keep your doctor or local hospital unless you are lucky, and that you will pay higher premiums and higher deductibles to get fewer choices. Of course, there will be no chance for appeal. New slogans won't do the trick; voters would need to be hypnotized to accept the real Obamacare (Ed Rogers, 11/21).

The Wall Street Journal: The GOP's Health-Reform Opportunity
"You can't fight something with nothing," muses Tom Price, the Republican for Georgia's Sixth District. That adage, which the surgeon-turned-congressman is now repeating to any colleague who will listen, is gaining steam within the broader GOP. As the ObamaCare disaster dominates the public debate, Republicans are engaged in an animated discussion behind the scenes about their next move. Health reformers like Dr. Price, Reps. Phil Roe and Steve Scalise, and in the Senate Tom Coburn and Mike Lee, are pushing colleagues to go on offense and start selling the public on innovative, pro-market health reforms (Kimberley A. Strassel, 11/21). 

Bloomberg: Obamacare's New Blank Check For Insurers
President Barack Obama tried to salvage his health-care law last week, in the face of his broken promise that people who like their health-care plans can keep them. But in so doing, he may have made things worse. Obama's executive action allowed insurers to reinstate, for one year, plans that don't comply with some of the Affordable Care Act’s requirements, including benefits mandated by the law and the maximum cost-sharing permitted under it. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, many Americans still won’t be able to re-enroll in their insurance plans (Lanhee Chen, 11/21).

Bloomberg: Obamacare's Failings Undermine Republican Goals
The rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been an utter and complete disaster, leading to a flowering of schadenfreude among Republicans who predicted Obamacare would be an utter and complete disaster. But the failure of the federal exchange website, and widespread confusion among consumers, isn't the particular disaster Republicans had predicted. And it's not a particularly auspicious one for Republican policy interests (Ezra Klein, 11/21).

Reuters: Even With A Working Website, We Must Tackle Healthcare's Opacity
Beginning January 1, 2014, everyone will be required by law to have health insurance; the marketplaces will help consumers find and purchase new plans. But what happens then? Are there easily available doctor appointments covered by these plans, or will patients come up empty-handed when seeking care? Is an insurer’s online directory up-to-date or wildly inaccurate? Which plans have better customer service and which have none? As patients, it’s vital to know the level of care access an insurance policy will actually provide. Without this basic consumer information, your brand new insurance card is like a mystery phone (Oliver Kharraz, 11/22). 

Fox News: ObamaCare Debacle Much Worse For Constitution, Presidency Than Katrina Was For Bush
Last week's delay of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate has observers declaring that President Obama's Hurricane Katrina has made landfall. Or so declare pundits in the national papers and on the TV talk shows. But ObamaCare is no Katrina. It is much worse, at least for the presidency and the constitution (John Yoo, 11/21). 

WBUR: The Great Healthcare.Gov Mistake: Having An 'Older Accountant' Create It
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the behemoth federal agency that, despite limited resources, does a pretty good job of carrying out its core mission: running programs that provide health insurance for older and poorer Americans. Expecting that this agency can also run the federal health insurance exchanges for Obamacare, however, sets it up for trouble right from the start (Michael Doonan, 11/21).

CNN: Obamacare Got Me Covered
As a 36-year cancer survivor, I am watching with great interest as the debate rages over whether the Affordable Care Act strengthens the individual insurance market, as the law's supporters contend, or dismantles it, as critics say. Having been repeatedly denied health coverage I needed and wanted to buy because of my pre-existing condition, I know that provisions of the law can dramatically improve the quality and cost of insurance for people shopping for coverage on their own (Lori Greenstein Bremner, 11/21). 

On other issues -

The Washington Post: Who Will Care For American's Aging Population?
Nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will, at some point, be unable to care for themselves without assistance. Issues of long-term care also affect millions of younger people with significant cognitive or physical functional limitations. Yet long-term care gets neither the public attention nor the policy focus that it deserves (Tom Daschle and Tommy Thompson, 11/21).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Michael Paul Williams: Put Politics Aside On Mental Health
[Sen. John] Watkins, a Republican from conservative Powhatan County, and state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, a Democrat from liberal Richmond, agree on the need to get health care to the estimated 1 million uninsured Virginians who could get coverage. They also see folly in passing up federal Medicaid funding and effectively subsidizing the needs of citizens in other states instead of our own. It’s a reasonable line of thinking. But we're talking politics here (Michael Paul Williams, 11/22).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.