Viewpoints: ‘Triage’ At The VA; GOP Can’t ‘Fix’ Health Law; Mental Health Problems In L.A. Jail
The Wall Street Journal: Political Triage At The VA
Washington's attention span on the Veterans Affairs scandal seems to be expiring. Though 42 of the VA's 152 major campuses (27%) are still under investigation for falsifying wait-time records, the Senate is converging on a bipartisan deal that claims to solve the problem. The pity is that the price of so little reform is another layer of political enamel on the VA status quo (6/8).
Bloomberg: A Two-Fisted Fix For The VA
There are two theories on what the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to fix its sprawling health-care system: Better management or more money. The beauty of the deal struck by Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and John McCain of Arizona is that it tries both strategies at once (6/8).
The Washington Post: I'm An Army Veteran, And My Benefits Are Too Generous
Simply put, I'm getting more than I gave. Tricare for military retirees and their families is so underpriced that it's more of a gift than a benefit. A fourfold increase in premiums would leave Tricare safely on the side of hearty largesse, yet the Pentagon's attempts to raise premiums by as little as 10 percent have had shelf lives shorter than ice cubes (Tom Slear, 6/6).
Bloomberg: Why Obamacare Can't Be 'Fixed'
Monica Wehby, the Republican Senate candidate in Oregon, has fallen prey to a common delusion: that Obamacare can be "fixed." On her campaign website, Wehby, a surgeon, runs through a list of changes she wants made to the president's health-care overhaul. She would, among other things, get rid of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, offer more catastrophic insurance options on the exchanges and make it easier for people to buy insurance across state lines. But she also wants to keep several Affordable Care Act provisions, including the one that bans insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing health conditions (Ramesh Ponnuru, 6/6).
Vox: Virginia Is Having An Insane Fight Over Medicaid Expansion
There is a tense and increasingly unbelievable fight over Medicaid expansion happening in Virginia. It now involves a huge political fight, a potential government shutdown and one apparent bribe to get a legislator out of office — and that's only the beginning (Sarah Kliff, 6/8).
The Star Tribune: Business Forum: Will Obamacare Die A Natural Death?
Minnesotans are almost palpably relieved that MNsure finally appears to be stabilized, past its rocky launch and two-hour holds on phone calls. More than 200,000 people have now signed up for health coverage through the state's online marketplace, along with 8 million others who signed up in the other 49 states for the first full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. Count me among those pulling for MNsure’s success. I find the specter of working people unable to afford access to health care for themselves and their families tragic and disgraceful. But the logistics hurdles in setting up MNsure pale before this one: What if the ACA and MNsure carry the seeds of their own demise? (Michael Showalter, 6/8).
The New York Times: Shifts In Charity Health Care
Health care reform was supposed to relieve the financial strain on hospitals that have provided a lot of free charity care to poor and uninsured patients. The reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, was expected to insure most of those patients either through expanded state Medicaid programs for the poor or through subsidized private insurance for middle-income patients, thereby funneling new revenues to hospitals that had previously absorbed the costs of uncompensated care (6/8).
The New York Times' The Upshot: How To Pay For Only The Health Care You Want
One reason health insurance is expensive is that most plans cover just about every medical technology — not just the ones that work, or the ones that are worth the price. This not only drives up costs, but also forces many Americans into purchasing coverage for therapies they may not value. But there's no reason things couldn’t be different, and better for consumers (Austin Frakt and Amitabh Chandra, 6/9).
Los Angeles Times: L.A. Has Run Out Of Time To Fix Its Own Jails
It should come as no surprise that Los Angeles County's treatment of mentally ill jail inmates falls so short of acceptable standards that the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking federal court oversight. County officials did too little for too long to correct egregious problems. Recent efforts to improve jail management and to identify and better serve mentally ill and suicidal inmates came too late (6/8).
NPR: A Doctor Takes A Look In The Medicare Mirror
As a teacher and a practicing physician, I was curious to learn what I could about my own Medicare billing from the public data. So I plugged my name into both The New York Times' Medicare database tool and ProPublica's Medicare Treatment Tracker to see where I stood. What did I find? In 2012, Medicare reimbursed the university where I work $45,994 for my services. Not much compared with the $21 million paid to a Florida eye doctor who specializes in treating macular degeneration. No doubt he's looked at a lot of eyeballs. A lot of eyeballs! (John Henning Schumann, 6/8).
The Boston Globe: Martha Coakley’s Deal With Partners Will Help Contain Health Costs
After long negotiations, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners HealthCare System have arrived at a reasonable deal to let the hospital network acquire South Shore Hospital in exchange for significant restrictions on short-term rates and bargaining power. This agreement should be healthy for Massachusetts and good for Partners itself, which considers the acquisition of the Weymouth hospital vital to its efforts to deliver care in the most cost-effective setting. The multi-part pact is complicated, but the most significant pieces aren't (6/9).
USA Today: GOP Takes Bite Out Of Healthy Meals
A few years ago, I took a group of kids to a farmers market in New York City. It was an eye-opening experience. Most of them had never seen, much less tasted, many of the vegetables on display. One 11-year-old mentioned it was her first time eating a raw carrot. That experience made me realize the sorry state of our food environment. The most obvious place to roll up our sleeves and start making improvements would be in schools. But sadly, a congressional panel just severely weakened a nutrition overhaul to the school lunch program, which taxpayers fund to the tune of $11 billion a year (Katie Couric, 6/6).