KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Health Law’s Threat To Privacy; ‘Catastrophic’ Debut Of Marketplaces Should Signal Need For Delay; In Budget Impasse Can Either Side Accept A Compromise?

USA Today: Obamacare Data Hub Looms As Privacy Threat
Every day, personal information is the subject of hundreds of thousands of hacking attempts from all over the world. From nation states to crime rings, knowing and exploiting your information is big business. On October 1, a major component of Obamacare made you even more vulnerable to devastating attacks on your personal information and the administration is doing too little about it (Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., 10/10).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare And The Part-Time Economy
There are times when the Obama administration makes statements so disconnected from economic reality that you wonder if any White House official has talked with anyone in business. A case in point: the administration's mantra that ObamaCare's definition of full-time employment as 30 or more hours per week had no effect on employers' hiring practices (Andrew Puzder, 10/10). 

The Wall Street Journal: Now Is the Time To Delay ObamaCare
The Obama administration has an implementation problem. More than any administration of the modern era they know how to talk but have trouble doing. They give speeches about ObamaCare but when it's unveiled what the public sees is a Potemkin village designed by the noted architect Rube Goldberg. ... That gets us to the real story of last week, this week and the future, ... and that is the utter and catastrophic debut of ObamaCare. Even for those who expected problems, and that would be everyone who follows government, it has been a shock. They had 3½ years to set it up! They knew exactly when it would be unveiled, on Oct. 1, 2013. On that date, they knew, millions could be expected to go online to see if they benefit (Peggy Noonan, 10/10). 

Fox News: My ObamaCare Surprise
Last week at a conference on the new health care law I got a big surprise. While Washington politicians are in a never-ending fight over President Obama's health care reform many of the nation's top insurance companies, brokers and major employers have long ago moved beyond the bitter debate in Washington. Even more than other Americans, they can't understand a government shut down over the plan. Unlike Americans who tell pollsters they don't like the new law and find it confusing, the business professionals dealing with the day-to-day reality of the new health insurance landscape accept the Affordable Care Act as straight forward approach to begin cutting the rising cost of health care for people and companies (Juan Williams, 10/10).

Health Affairs: Calm Down, America: ObamaCare Is Far From A Revolutionary Change In Our Health System
Three and half years after passage of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law is about to reach an important milestone. On January 1, 2014, millions of Americans will no longer be uninsured and a new system for obtaining coverage will be put in place throughout the country. Yet controversy remains about how the law will impact individuals, businesses, and the US health system. Opponents call it revolutionary. They declare it "socialized medicine" and a "government takeover of the health care system." The truth is the law will have limited impact on how most Americans receive medical care and pay for it. Far from a radical change, the ACA (or "Obamacare") builds on parts of our health care system that have evolved over the last half-century (Stuart Altman and Harry Selker, 10/10). 

The New York Times: An Inadequate Offer From The House
For now, House leaders seem to have dropped their demand to tie the reopening of government to ending health care reform. But as they shift back to the longer-running dispute over spending, they still want to use the continuing shutdown as their weapon to extract more cuts from the budget without any revenue increases (10/10). 

Los Angeles Times: In Government Shutdown, Can Either Side Take Yes For An Answer?
Have Democrats left themselves room to accept anything short of complete capitulation by the GOP? In the Senate, Susan Collins (R-Maine) suggested a shutdown-ender that would give agencies more flexibility to spend dollars than they received under the across-the-board sequester cuts enacted in 2011. Her proposal also would end the tax on medical devices, a change in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) that many Senate Democrats support. ... In the House, Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is trying to rally support behind temporarily funding the government and raising the debt limit in exchange for a binding agreement to negotiate lower deficits and entitlement changes. ... Democrats say they're willing to negotiate over whatever issues Republicans want to negotiate. They're just not willing to do so "at the point of a gun." In other words, they want the government funded and the debt ceiling raised, at least temporarily, before they sit down to talk (Jon Healey, 10/10).

Los Angeles Times: Shutdown/Debt Limit: Boehner's Non-Deal Deal
They're refusing to reopen the government unless President Obama agrees to "reforms" on Medicare and Social Security. In other words, they want to sacrifice the health and sustenance of America's seniors to end the shutdown. Rolling back Obamacare, which was the putative rationale for the shutdown and the debt-limit standoff, no longer appears to be on the table. Support for the GOP position, and the party in general, is collapsing to a record low, and it wasn't too great to begin with (Michael Hiltzik, 10/10).

The Washington Post: Boehner Is Playing To Win
By taking up the Obamacare battle, and by sticking with it long after sane people realized that the program would not be defunded or delayed, Boehner displayed a fortitude that conservatives felt he lacked in the "fiscal cliff" fight last December. If what the House GOP wanted was a Pickett's Charge, Boehner showed that he was willing to lead it. Boehner may have calculated that Obama would negotiate — if not over Obamacare, then about spending and entitlements. The president's uncompromising stance against hostage-taking meant Boehner had to follow through on the threat of a government shutdown — and meant that the GOP would shoulder most of the blame for an episode of dysfunction. It also meant, however, that Boehner would get to stand before the cameras every day and show his defiance of Obama, which makes House Republicans swoon (Eugene Robinson, 10/10).

Bloomberg: John Boehner's Dangerous Choice
The U.S. cannot under any circumstances afford a default. The last time political dysfunction in Washington led us to the brink, during the 2011 debt-ceiling fiasco, Standard & Poor’s downgraded U.S. credit for the first time in history. ... The U.S. also cannot under any circumstances afford to normalize political extortion. In retrospect, Obama erred in 2011 by agreeing to Republican demands for vast spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling. That deal was a precedent-breaker; no previous increase in the debt limit had been subject to similar conditions. Obama must now make sure it was not also a precedent-setter. If determined factions are able to achieve their ends by preventing the normal operations of the government and threatening economic chaos, then the nation’s 237-year democratic project will unravel (10/10).

The New York Times’ Economix: The Dubious Case For Professional Licensing
The original version of the [California] bill, S.B. 491, would have allowed qualified nurse practitioners to offer a defined scope of primary care services in independent primary care practices, without supervision by a licensed physician. That is already permitted in 17 states. The politically powerful AARP had endorsed that version of S.B. 491, a free-market approach that Friedman would have enthusiastically endorsed as well. Not so the California Medical Association, which vehemently opposes the proposed intrusion on the medical profession’s economic turf (Uwe E. Reinhardt, 10/11).  

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