KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Rove Says GOP Unlikely To Make Much ‘Structural Change’ To Entitlements; Roe Anniversary And Fading Public Understanding; Fast Food Workers’ Health Insurance

The Washington Post: An Opening Bid On Taxes That Is Good Politics But Bad Policy
[As] a matter of policy, rather than politics, it is no more sensible to draw the line at $620 billion in additional revenue over the next decade than to insist, as have some Democrats, that Medicare and Social Security remain untouched. The country's structural deficit poses too large a threat to future prosperity, and there is no politically or fiscally realistic scenario under which entitlement cuts alone can solve the problem (1/9).

The Wall Street Journal: A GOP Strategy For The Debt-Ceiling Fight
With control of just one chamber, Republicans won't be able to advance much-needed structural changes in entitlements. That's the cost of losing the 2012 election. A Republican wish list will have to await a GOP president and Congress. For now, Republicans must make Mr. Obama take ownership of his deficits ... It's impossible to negotiate with an ideologue, but Republicans can systematically unmask him and constrain him as much as their limited power allows, if they are united and acting in concert (Karl Rove, 1/9).

The New York Times: The Woes Of Roe
Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court handed down the great abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade. To be honest, you’re not going to be seeing a whole lot of cake and Champagne. Time magazine recognized the occasion with a downbeat cover story. ("They've Been Losing Ever Since.") Gallup polls suggest support for abortion rights is fading, particularly among young Americans, and that more people now regard themselves as "pro-life" than "pro-choice." On the other hand — I know you had faith that eventually we’d get to the other hand — the polls depend on the question. According to the Quinnipiac poll, if you ask Americans whether they agree with the Roe decision, nearly two-thirds say yes (Gail Collins, 1/9). 

Los Angeles Times: Side Of Fast-Food Fries, Hold The Healthcare 
In anticipation of the healthcare overhaul that takes full effect next year, a couple of Taco Bell and Wendy’s franchises in Oklahoma and Nebraska are evidently cutting back the hours of employees to dodge requirements of the healthcare reform law. ... And to you patrons of these fast food places in these no-to-health-insurance places, don’t be surprised to see some group mounting a campaign asking, “Do you really want to eat at a restaurant whose idea of health care for the employees who fix your food is no more than a sign in the bathroom telling them to wash their hands?” (Patt Morrison, 1/9).

San Jose Mercury News: Medical Board Allows Over-Drugging Of Elderly Patients
Elders with dementia are often drugged indiscriminately with antipsychotic drugs in hospitals and long-term care settings. Despite sometimes-fatal side effects and a lack of efficacy, the drugs remain the treatment of choice for patients who present behavioral challenges resulting from their inability to communicate their needs. The drugs are frequently used as chemical restraints, designed to subdue patients for staff convenience, despite proven non-drug options. ... California's Medical Board, the agency charged with protecting the public from poor physician care and practices, has been conspicuously absent in robust efforts to end the overdrugging of California's elder and dependent adults (Anthony Chicotel, 1/8).

WBUR: Cognoscenti: A Common Sense Problem Approach To A Deadline
Fixing the twin public health "epidemics" in this country — abuse of opioid painkillers by addicts and under-treatment of legitimate pain patients who often need those same drugs — will take time, a lot of creative thinking and a willingness to change dysfunctional government policies. But there is one astonishingly simple step — a no-brainer, actually — that is immediately available and has been shown to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses. ... The idea is what doctors call "harm reduction," which means not necessarily trying to solve the root problem but to do things that make the problem less likely to be fatal (Judy Foreman, 1/9).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.