KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Good News From Medicare Trustees; Medicaid No ‘Cure-All’ For Access To Care

A selection of editorials and opinions on health care from around the country.

The Washington Post: Medicare Policy Should Balance Cuts With Quality Care
The 2013 Medicare Trustees Report had some good news. Costs per beneficiary grew just 0.7 percent in 2012, down from a 5.4 percent annual average since 1990. This is the third year of slow growth, and if the trend continues, our national finances will dramatically improve. But the reasons for the slow growth are uncertain, and the trustees left their projection of annual future growth in costs per beneficiary unchanged at 4.3 percent. And that is the optimistic scenario: For the fourth straight year, the report included an appendix, prepared by Medicare's staff, that outlines alternative projections in which costs grow faster (Bryan R. Lawrence, 6/13). 

The Washington Post: Expanding Medicaid Coverage Is Not A Cure-All
The debate over "Obamacare" has focused largely on the number of uninsured Americans and how the regulations will be implemented. Not enough attention is being paid to the difficulties our health-care system imposes on those with Medicaid insurance, which is being extended to millions who lack coverage. Frequently, people blame patients for using emergency departments "inappropriately." But some Medicaid patients do everything they can to see a doctor, to no avail, and must resort to emergency department visits. My own experience has been instructive (Roberta Capp, 6/13). 

The Wall Street Journal: Rebooting The Budget Talks
That neglect has been a gift to Democrats, allowing them to talk only within the coming 10-year budget window—the period before entitlement programs go nuclear. The White House gets to claim it is committed to preserving Social Security and Medicare, as the president offers token adjustments to make the programs look better in the near-term. To this day, Mr. Obama insists we need a mere $1.5 trillion more in deficit reduction (for a supposed grand total of $4 trillion) to make everything hunky-dory (Kimberley A. Strassel, 6/13).

MinnPost: Rape, Pregnancy, Statistics And The Ignorance Of Some Politicians
Here we go again with the whack-a-mole idea that rape rarely results in pregnancy. This time, however, I’m not sure if the politician who’s promulgating that bogus idea is actually ignorant about rape and female biology or is simply using statistical language to be misleading (Perry, 6/13).

Los Angeles Times: New Abortion Rules Assume Women Are Really Stupid
The House Judiciary Committee, dominated by Republican men who still have not learned to avoid the subject of rape and pregnancy, took up the issue of abortion this week. Normally, the news about abortion focuses on the machinations of conservative state legislatures, which have spent tremendous time and energy, often with great success, chipping away at women’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy (Robin Abcarian, 6/13).

The New York Times: Keep The Women’s Rights Bill Intact
State Senate leaders, for example, are trying to remove crucial sections of the bill that would ensure abortion rights in New York even if the United States Supreme Court erodes or overturns those protections in Roe v. Wade. It’s particularly distressing that Senator Diane Savino, who has been an abortion rights proponent and is part of a breakaway group of Democrats in the Senate, has said it’s time to set aside the abortion issue for now and pass the rest of the bill. There are others in the Senate and Assembly who are trying to weaken protections, including those for young victims of sex trafficking (6/13).

Los Angeles Times: A Restrained California State Budget
Notably, it also would expand Medi-Cal (the state's health insurance program for low-income Californians) to the maximum extent allowed by the 2010 federal healthcare law, bringing coverage to millions of the working poor. That step comes with some financial risk — the state will eventually be responsible for 10 percent of the medical costs of the newly eligible, with federal taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab. But it is the right thing to do not just morally but also for public health and the economy over the long term (6/13).

USA Today: Six Months After Newtown, Focus On Mental Health: Column
What haunts me the most is to think that in those few awful moments on Dec. 14 before her gruesome and untimely death, Mary might have recognized her assassin. He did, after all, go to Sandy Hook Elementary during her tenure there. Given published information it seems highly probable that he would have been identified as needing assistance. What might have flashed through her mind in that moment? Could more have been done to help him and his family? Was he beyond help? Was it offered and refused? Was assistance offered at an early enough age? (Bill Sherlach, 6/14). 

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