KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Physician Payment Sunshine Rules May Not Stop Conflicts Of Interest; Support Wanes For Health Law

The Wall Street Journal: Medical Conflicts Of Interest Are Dangerous
The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced final regulations for the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which requires pharmaceutical and medical-device companies to disclose payments they make to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers. This information will be publicly available starting in 2014. ... But the reality is that this practice will continue—and patients will continue to be at risk for potential harm—until physicians themselves stop participating in these relationships (Robert Pearl, 4/23).

The Washington Post: Baucus Retires, A Grateful Nation Cheers
The Montana senator was the delayer-in-chief on President Obama’s health reform, persuading the White House to let crucial time pass in 2009 while he tried and failed to secure Republican Chuck Grassley’s support. Baucus’s pussyfooting gave the GOP an opening to demagogue Obamacare and move public sentiment against it. Baucus isn't to blame for the White House’s communications failures, but his ineffectual delay helped inflict scars on Obama’s signature initiative that have never healed (Matt Miller, 8/24).

Kansas City Star: A Moratorium For Obamacare
Obamacare has never been popular and as time passes it has become even less so. As John Fund points out at National Review online, the latest Kaiser Family Health Foundation poll puts Obamacare's support at an anemic 37 percent. Not surprisingly, many Democratic supporters in Congress are becoming antsy about the implications for 2014, given that implementation of its main provisions is supposed to happen months before the mid-term elections (E. Thomas McClanahan, 4/23).

The Lund Report: Is It R.I.P For Solo And Small Physician Practices?
Although many of the reasons vary for the dire predictions of the "futurists," some common reasons suggested are the increasing costs of operating a private medical practice, declining reimbursement, increasing government scrutiny of practice operations, lack of autonomy, compliance headaches, and competition by medical groups owned by hospitals and health plans, or those that are substantially aligned with same. Other reasons cited are some physicians "just want to practice medicine," some do not want to have to deal with heath reform and its new payment methodologies and the increasing patient populations (Paul DeMuro, 4/24).

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