KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Tyranny’ Over Insurers; Obama’s Promises; Rep. Franks’s Abortion Claim

The New York Times: Insurance Tyranny
Many of us wish that Obamacare were a simpler system, one that directly provided health insurance. Political reality, unfortunately, ensured that many people will receive coverage from private insurers, selling policies — often with subsidies — on the “exchanges”. And naturally enough, the Obama administration is teaming up with the insurers and other parts of the health industry to help inform Americans of the benefits to which they will be legally entitled, starting Jan. 1 (Paul Krugman, 6/12). 

Bloomberg: Obama Guesses His Way To Trillions In Health Savings
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama relied on a standard applause line, a promise that his health-care plan would “lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.” Cue cheers -- or jeers if you were a health-policy expert. For them, his vow was ridiculous. There was no time frame attached to the promise. There was no plan for realizing it. It was change no one quite believed in. He might as well have promised every American a puppy (Ezra Klein, 6/12).

The Washington Post: Trent Franks's Abortion Claim And The Manly Republican Party
In all, the nameplates of 23 misters lined both rows on the GOP side; there isn't one Republican woman on the panel. The guys muscled through a bill that, should it become law, would upend Roe v. Wade by effectively banning all abortions after 20 weeks. With the grace of Charlie Sheen and the subtlety of a sitcom, the manly men voted down a Democratic effort to add enhanced protections for the life and health of the mother. They voted down a Democratic amendment that would allow exceptions for women with heart or lung disease or diabetes. They even voted down an amendment that would have made exceptions for victims of rape or incest (Dana Milbank, 6/12). 

Arizona Republic: Rep. Franks: Pregnancy From Rape 'Low'
Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona isn't the kind of politician who sticks his foot in his mouth; he's the kind of politician who never takes his foot out of his mouth. Franks is proposing legislation that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy (current law bans abortions after viability, about 24 weeks.) Not only would Franks ban abortions much earlier but he does not want there to be exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Already there have been several Congressional Republicans who’ve proved their ignorance on this issue by making ridiculous statements. As when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin said the female body can prevent pregnancy from occurring after a "legitimate rape" (EJ Montini, 6/12).

The Washington Post: Va.'s Cuccinelli Plays Fast And Loose With The Facts On Abortion
E.W. Jackson, the fire-breathing pastor who stunned the Republican establishment by storming the party convention in Virginia and snatching the nomination for lieutenant governor, has been roundly mocked for saying Planned Parenthood has been "far more lethal to black lives" than has the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, the idea that Planned Parenthood is a racist, even genocidal enterprise, while scurrilous and estranged from the truth, is an article of faith among some right-wing Republicans — among them Herman Cain, the flash-in-the-pan presidential contestant in last year's GOP primaries, and Mr. Jackson's running mate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the party's candidate for governor (6/12).

The New York Times: Lung Transplant Rules for Children
The cases of two desperately ill children in need of lung transplants raised questions about the criteria used to determine eligibility for such transplants. One case involves a 10-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, who received a transplant from an adult donor on Wednesday. The other case involves a boy, 11, also with cystic fibrosis (6/12).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: What Happened To U.S. Mental Health Care After Deinstitutionalization?Deinstitutionalization has, on the whole, worked well for the intellectually disabled because they and their supporters could crank the political valves required to make it work. Equally worthy claimants who lacked the same political muscle or public embrace fared much worse. That's one key lesson of the deinstitutionalization fight (Harold Pollack, 6/12).

New England Journal Of Medicine: Guantanamo Bay: A Medical Ethics-Free Zone?
American physicians have not widely criticized medical policies at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp that violate medical ethics. We believe they should. Actions violating medical ethics, taken on behalf of the government, devalue medical ethics for all physicians. The ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo by as many as 100 of the 166 remaining prisoners presents a stark challenge to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to resist the temptation to use military physicians to "break" the strike through force-feeding (George Annas, Sondra Crosby, and Leonard Glantz, 6/12).

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