KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Boston Hospitals, Doctors Rose To The Challenge; Physicians Need To Understand Health Law To Advise Patients; Florida’s Budget Problems Could Be Eased By Medicaid Expansion

Boston Globe: Boston's Hospitals Make Their World-Class Presence Felt
If there is any silver lining in the violent Marathon attacks Monday, it is that Boston is home to some of the world's finest hospitals, physicians, nurses, and medical staff. These highly trained professionals must be thanked and praised for their calm, heroic response in the face of unprecedented carnage. They not only ably treated the wounded but also provided some of the most accurate information available in the first hours after the explosions. Care for the injured began at the scene, where the medical tents usually reserved for treating dehydration and blisters suddenly became field hospitals. First responders, including military medical personnel returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, raced to stem the bleeding and stabilize patients for transfer. Others simply sat with victims, holding their hands while trying to quiet anxieties as they waited for treatment (4/17).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Connecting To Health Insurance Coverage
October 1, 2013, marks the beginning of a new era when millions will be able to enroll in health insurance at the Health Insurance Marketplace. Ushering in this new era presents an enormous opportunity for the entire health care system. It has never been more important for physicians and other health care professionals to be engaged in connecting people to coverage. As a physician and nurse, respectively, we have too often witnessed how the lack of health insurance can negatively affect a patient's health. ... That is why clinicians should prepare now to understand the changes that are coming, the new benefits, the key deadlines, and opportunities for information and assistance. With the upcoming major shifts on the health care landscape, patients and the public will be turning to their physicians and other health care professionals to help them successfully navigate the future (Dr. Howard Koh and Marilyn Tavenner, 4/15). 

Tampa Bay Times: Math For Accepting Medicaid Only Gets Better
As the economy struggled, Florida deeply cut spending on public schools, higher education, land preservation, the courts and every other corner of discretionary spending. Now the state could save $430 million spent on a state health care program if legislators would agree to accept billions of federal dollars and expand Medicaid. But even those savings, which could be spent on other priorities, may not sway House Speaker Will Weatherford and other Republicans who refuse to accept federal Medicaid expansion money (4/16).

Politico: CO-OP Movement Far From Dead
Though it received little attention at the time, the "fiscal cliff" agreement rolled back a major component of the Affordable Care Act. Buried in the legislation was a provision to rescind nearly all of the unobligated funding for the health insurance CO-OP loan program. For a negligible savings, one of the key programs designed to drive innovation and lower costs will now only be available in half of the United States (Kent Conrad and John Morrison, 4/17).

Politico: Medicare Drug Rebates Needed
This week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D-W. Va.), will introduce a bill to ensure Medicare and taxpayers pay lower prices for prescription drugs. The bill, known as the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2013, would ensure taxpayers get a better deal by requiring drug manufacturers to once again provide rebates for prescription drugs for people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and for lower-income Medicare beneficiaries. While Washington has been debating how to preserve a fiscally sound Medicare program, Rockefeller offers an important, relatively simple step forward (Judith Stein, 4/17).

The New York Times: The False Alarm Over U.S. Fertility
As a bipartisan group of senators prepares to release its plan for comprehensive immigration reform, a curious argument is emerging from across the political spectrum: the United States needs immigration to make up for its declining birthrate. … These fears are hogwash. Unlike many wealthy nations that will see their populations stabilize or decrease in coming decades, the United States, the world's third most populous country, is expected to grow — to 420.3 million by 2060 from 315.7 million people today. Our fertility rate (1.9 births per woman, slightly below the "replacement rate" of 2.1) has dipped since the Great Recession but is still among the highest of rich countries' and ties or exceeds fertility rates in middle-income countries like Brazil, Iran, Thailand and Vietnam (Derek S. Hoff, 4/16).

Health Policy Solutions: Growth In Senior Populations Requires Attention To Health Care Needs
Colorado has one of the fastest growing aging populations in the U.S. Currently, one in nine Coloradans is a senior citizen. By the year 2030, that will increase to about one in five. While Colorado historically has had one of the smallest percentages of seniors, our annual growth rate is now three percent above the national average. The increasing number and percent of older adults in Colorado presents new opportunities and challenges to communities across the state. With the baby boomer generation aging, a larger number of active older adults will be available to contribute to the community as volunteers, board members, community leaders, employees, and caregivers (Denali Johnson, 4/16).

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