KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Exploring The Bond Between Caretaker And Patient; Missouri Looks Beyond Expansion To Reform Medicaid

The New York Times: The Care Taker (video)
This Op-Doc video explores the relationship between an immigrant caretaker and an elderly woman in the last months of her life. Joesy, a Fijian immigrant, works long hours providing live-in care for 95-year-old Haru Tsurumoto in Sonoma County, Calif. Through intimate and quiet scenes, we explore Joesy’s complex relationship with Haru. The two respect each other in part because each has experienced being an outsider in the United States — Joesy as an undocumented immigrant who fears she could be sent back to Fiji, and Haru as a Japanese-American who was sent to an internment camp during the Second World War (Theo Rigby and Kate McLean, 6/24).

Wall Street Journal: Medicare By The Scary Numbers
In their report, the trustees acknowledge that current law envisages dramatic reductions in future Medicare outlays which may be "difficult to sustain." The president's new budget also paints a rosy picture of Medicare's present and future finances. Yet even with these unrealistic assumptions about Medicare costs, the future looks bleak. The unfunded liability in Medicare, the trustees tell us, is $34 trillion over the next 75 years. Looking indefinitely into the future, the unfunded liability is $43 trillion—almost three times the size of today's economy (John C. Goodman and Lawrence J. Kotlicoff, 6/24). 

Forbes: How To Fix Our Crippled Social Security Disability Insurance System
Social Security Disability Insurance has often been forgotten in the debate over the broader Social Security program. But Congress is beginning to pay attention, perhaps because the program is due to become insolvent by 2016. The program needs to be fixed. The question is, as always, how (Howard Gleckman, 6/24).

Kansas City Star: Medicaid Expansion Dead In Missouri, But Reform Is Alive And Kicking
Make no mistake. There will be no Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Not this year, not as long as Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly. There may, however, be Medicaid reform in Missouri. And should that happen to provide insurance coverage for more low-income Missourians and bring the state closer to compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act, well, so be it. Just don’t use the “e” word. There are now three legislative committees set up to study Medicaid reform — one in the Senate and two in the House (Barbara Shelly, 6/24).

Tampa Bay Times: Health Care Act Improves Coverage, At Lower Cost
The Affordable Care Act promises access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance regardless of age or health status. The opponents predicted that health insurance rates would skyrocket due to the law's new requirements, but that is not happening. In many states where health insurers have priced policies for the health exchanges, the law is bringing consumer choice, transparency and competition to what has been a dysfunctional marketplace, producing better coverage at reasonable prices (6/22).

Forbes: Even In Over-Regulated Washington State, Obamacare Will Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 34-80%
For all the talk about rate shock—next year’s Obamacare-induced spike in health insurance prices—there are a few states where you’d think rate shock shouldn’t happen. In Maine, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington, insurance markets are already regulated in much the same way that Obamacare will. These states force insurers to cover everyone, despite pre-existing conditions, and they oblige carriers to charge similar rates to younger and older customers. Despite these factors, it turns out that in Washington state, Obamacare will still increase the underlying cost of individually purchased health insurance by 34 to 80 percent, on average (Avik Roy, 6/23).  

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