KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The Number Keeps Rising; New Fears About Census Fracus; Patients Lose As Insurers ‘Play Games’

The Washington Post: The Affordable Care Act Comes In With Better-Then-Expected Numbers
Obamacare's critics have had a bad week. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 8 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, and a significant portion of them are young Americans. Yes, we need to learn more about the numbers. And yes, a lot needs to happen to complete the ACA’s phase-in. The debate about how well the law is working is not over. But the initial figures are encouraging, and Mr. Obama is right to insist that continued Republican demands for repeal are unproductive and unwise (4/17). 

The Wall Street Journal: What Sweden Can Teach Us About ObamaCare
President Obama has declared the Affordable Care Act a success—a reform that is "here to stay." The question remains, however: What should we expect to come out of it, and do we want the effects to stay? If the experiences of Sweden and other countries with universal health care are any indication, patients will soon start to see very long wait times and difficulty getting access to care (Per Bylund, 4/17). 

The Wall Street Journal: None Dare Blame ObamaCare
The White House and its media phalanx are claiming the Census Bureau fracas is nothing more than a search for a conspiracy where none exists. Yet revising its health insurance survey design will make it harder to measure ObamaCare's performance over time, and now we've learned that the choice to do so is even worse than we first wrote (4/17). 

The Washington Post: Is Cantor The Key To Medicaid Expansion In Virginia?
Seventh District Republican Rep. Eric Cantor has helped lead the fight against Obamacare. But the Republican majority leader’s continued tenure in the House of Representatives may be the key to allowing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to win the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the very law Cantor opposes. While counterintuitive, let’s examine this political logic (Norman Leahy and Paul Goldman, 4/17). 

Los Angeles Times: When Health Insurers Play Games, Patients Lose
Dr. Theodore Corwin, a plastic surgeon in Thousand Oaks for the last 30 years, has had run-ins with insurers before, but never one so aggravating — and pointless — as this. A 26-year-old woman recently came to his office complaining of back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as numbness in her hands and arms, resulting from her unusually ample bust. She's 5-foot-6, not overweight, Corwin said. She wanted a breast reduction. "There seemed to be no question that her pain and numbness was caused by her carrying this excessive weight," Corwin told me. "It seemed like a straightforward diagnosis." It wasn't, at least in the eyes of the young woman's insurer, UnitedHealthcare. Its response to both a policyholder and her doctor speaks volumes about the seeming priorities of our for-profit healthcare system (David Lazarus, 4/17).

Los Angeles Times: Reproductive Services: The Hoag Hospital Compact
When Hoag Hospital, which has facilities in Irvine and Newport Beach, announced it was establishing a partnership with St. Joseph Health System, community groups say they were promised that the hospital would continue to provide the same services it always had. But soon after — and not all that surprisingly, given that St. Joseph is Catholic-run — Hoag declared that it would stop providing elective abortions (4/17).

Bloomberg: Good News For Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan
It didn't attract much attention, but the Congressional Budget Office has changed the way it looks at the Republican plan for Medicare -- and its new look at the issue is good news for the plan's chief sponsor, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Ramesh Ponnuru, 4/17).

Fox News: ObamaCare Proxy War? Republicans Could Use Burwell Nomination As Leverage
A 96-love Senate confirmation vote to run the White House budget office might not mean much -- when the person who secured that support is now up to run the Department of Health and Human Services. And by fiat, ObamaCare. Such is the lot facing Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom President Obama tapped to succeed outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Chad Pergram, 4/17).

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