KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: FDA Needs More Power To Regulate Compounding Pharmacies; Time To Revamp Military Benefits, Including Health

The Washington Post: The Crisis Of Compounding Pharmacies
Traditionally, the licensing and control of pharmacies has been left to the states, but their performance has been uneven. The federal role has been thrown into question in recent years by lawsuits. ... compounding pharmacies are not generally required to inform the FDA that they are in business nor to register with the FDA or disclose what products they are making. ... Congress needs to give the FDA new tools and enforcement powers. Congress also needs to close a standards gap. The nation’s major pharmaceutical companies must meet Good Manufacturing Practices, a set of strict standards for the production of drugs so that consumers know that each and every dose is correctly formulated and sterile. But these do not apply to compounding pharmacies (2/13). 

Los Angeles Times: Covered California Previews The New Marketplace For Health Insurance
You might not know it from the near-incessant fighting over the 2010 federal healthcare law, but its main provisions -- the ones designed to bring coverage to millions of the uninsured -- won't go into effect until next year. State officials gave Californians their first look Wednesday at some of those changes, revealing what the out-of-pocket costs would be for a new, standardized set of insurance policies (Jon Healey, 2/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Four Key Questions For Health-Care Law
Thanks to the Supreme Court and Barack Obama's re-election, the Affordable Care Act—"Obamacare" to foes and a few of its friends—isn't going away. The issue now is how it will work. Even by Washington standards, implementing this law is extraordinarily complex. The federal government last year issued 70,000 pages of guidance, including 130 pages on the look of websites for new marketplaces where many will shop for insurance (David Wessel, 2/13). 

The Wall Street Journal: From SEAL Team Six To Retiring Without Health Insurance
Esquire magazine's report this week that a retired 16-year veteran of the United States military—a Navy SEAL who played a key role in the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden—now struggles without health care has become a mini cause celebre. The story is an opportune time to review how the U.S. takes care of the men and women who do so much to protect it (John Barnett and Michael O'Hanlon, 2/13). 

Politico: Ben Carson Vs. Obama
The National Prayer Breakfast is not supposed to serve as a forum for a clash of political visions, but that was what Ben Carson made it last week. The Johns Hopkins Hospital neurosurgeon and motivational speaker lit up the event with a politically charged speech that quickly went viral. Mention "death panels" standing a few yards from the president, who is professionally obligated to sit and listen, and that tends to happen. ... Warning of the disastrous effects of "moral decay" and "fiscal irresponsibility," Carson touched on a very different approach in his speech at the prayer breakfast, advocating government frugality, a flat tax and health care accounts controlled by individuals. Carson said — not persuasively given the complexities involved — that these items are just common sense (Rich Lowry, 2/13). 

The Seattle Times: Painful Tales Of Mental Illness Spur Lawmakers To Action
There is finally urgency in Olympia to reform mental-health care. One lawmaker after another has heard harrowing first-person accounts of scant treatment, denied at critical moments. ... (Jordan Taylor-McPhail’s) story underlines the costs of our last-in-the-nation ranking for community psychiatric beds. In the last decade alone, the tally of beds certified for involuntarily committed patients dropped by a third (Jonathan Martin, 2/13). 

Boston Globe: A Strong Message For Beth Israel Deaconess
The settlement between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard doctor who said she endured years of sexist treatment — and punishment for complaining about it — is a hallelujah moment for working women everywhere. It took courage for Dr. Carol Warfield, the former chief of anesthesia there, to file suit against a premier teaching hospital, the chief of surgery who she said humiliated her, and the chief executive who she said ignored her complaints. It also took tenacity to press forward as the defendants tried to bury her in endless paper and pleadings (Joan Vennochi, 2/14).

Oregonian: Oregon Lawmakers Eye Smoking In The Car: Agenda 2013
People make a lot of bad parenting decisions. They let their kids overindulge on junk food and slip into obesity. They blow the family paycheck on video lottery games provided thoughtfully by the state of Oregon. Sometimes, they even light up a cigarette in the family SUV while Junior's in the back seat. Parents shouldn't do any of this stuff, of course. But should the state make bad parenting a crime? If it involves tobacco, lawmakers seem particularly inclined to say "yes" (2/13).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Medicaid Expansions Will Help Colorado's Economy
When the Colorado Health Foundation commissioned my team to study the economic and budgetary impacts of expanding eligibility for the Medicaid program, we looked at the issue objectively through a dollars-and-cents lens. ... The results of our analysis, highlighted in the just-released Colorado Health Foundation report, "Medicaid Expansion: Examining the Impact on Colorado’s Economy," show that the Colorado economy will grow more with Medicaid expansion than without it. In short, expansion will have a net positive impact on the Colorado economy (Charles Brown, 2/13).

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