KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: The Entitlement Crisis Is Not Over; VA Needs To Deal More Effectively With Mental Health Issues; Iowa Gives Governor New Abortion Duty

The New York Times: Economix: A World Of Rising Health Care Costs
Americans are used to hearing that health care will bust the budget. The Congressional Budget Office projected last year that Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs would eat up 9.6 percent to 10.4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product by 2037, crowding out many other vital programs. But a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that the United States is not the only country that will struggle to contain public spending on medical care (Eduardo Porter, 6/27). 

The Washington Post: The Left Needs To Get Real On Medicare, Social Security And The Deficit
There is a rising chorus on the left, most recently articulated in an op-ed Monday by Neera Tanden and Michael Linden ["Deficits are not destiny"] of the Center for American Progress, that our fiscal conversation should be declared over and plans for meaningful entitlement reforms mothballed. These voices argue that we can have substantial new spending on public investments, a secure safety net, no middle-class tax increase — all without addressing entitlement spending. Lo, if it were so (Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler, 6/27). 

Politico: Congress Must Save Veterans Affairs Clinics
The American people expect Congress to demonstrate that it can govern effectively in a bipartisan manner. A new medical access problem for military veterans offers an excellent opportunity for House and Senate leadership to prove its ability in this area. ... In our home state of Louisiana, VA mismanagement delayed the opening of two new clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. The Congressional Budget Office's new cost-estimate rule places these and other VA-approved clinics in permanent jeopardy (Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., 6/28).

Tampa Bay Times: Remove Stigma So More Veterans Get Help For Head Injuries
Nearly one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who received VA health care in the decade after 2001 were diagnosed with PTSD, and the numbers are only expected to climb. ... Unfortunately, because of inequities in the law, treatment for brain injuries often solely focuses on physical restoration, overlooking the critical mental health component (Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, R-Fla., 6/27).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Hail Mary?
President Obama, a father of two girls, has said that if he had a son he'd "have to think long and hard" before letting him play football. But that's not stopping the president's Department of Health and Human Services from reaching out to the NFL to help sell ObamaCare to young people. ... Whether or not a partnership is created, the outreach effort is indicative of the challenge faced by ObamaCare proponents, who must convince healthy young people to pay insurance companies huge subsidies for medical care that will go to someone else. We're not sure even Eli Manning could pull that off (Harry Graver, 6/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Worse Than ObamaCare
Small businesses in California often complain about being targeted by Democrats in Sacramento. So to demonstrate that they're equal opportunity harassers, Democrats are trying to ram through legislation that would punish large businesses and nonprofits that employ Medicaid beneficiaries. Democrats say they're merely trying to deter businesses from cutting workers' hours to circumvent the ObamaCare mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees (as defined as working more than 30 hours per week) to offer health coverage or pay a $2,000 penalty per worker (Allysia Finley, 6/27). 

Des Moines Register: Iowa's Medicaid Abortions Are Hardly Common
Last week, Gov. Terry Branstad signed legislation to provide health insurance to low-income Iowans. The law includes a provision giving the governor the final say on whether Medicaid will pay for medically necessary abortions. Though offensive to many women and outrageous to pro-choice groups, it is unlikely even a pro-choice governor would want the responsibility of approving or denying a specific medical procedure for an Iowan. Will lawmakers next want him to review and approve or reject reimbursements for birth control prescriptions? ... Medicaid only covers abortions for poor women in cases of rape or incest, to save the mother’s life or when the fetus is severely abnormal. Medicaid paid for a total of nine abortions this fiscal year (6/28).

Seattle Times: Washingtonians Should Stand With Wendy Davis, Protect Abortion Rights
Washington is not Texas. Thankfully, lawmakers here are not pursuing misguided regulations to curb reproductive rights for women. But I still think the massive response to Tuesday's nearly 12-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate by Wendy Davis demonstrates why we cannot take the right to make our own private decisions about our health for granted. Look at what's happening nationwide (Thanh Tan, 6/27). 

WBUR: Cognoscenti: Forced Intimacy: When Illness Makes Us Let Down Our Guards
My name is Holly Ladd, and I am a 58-year-old woman with ALS ("Lou Gehrig’s Disease"). I was diagnosed in August 2012, after five months of increasing difficulty walking. Ten months later, I live my life from a wheelchair, no longer able to walk, and I am quickly losing use of my arms and hands. My voice is soft and muffled, and will be useless in a few months. In December 2012, I left my 30-year career in public health and international development, in which I traveled alone to Africa and South East Asia. Now, I can't travel alone from my bedroom to the bathroom (Holly Ladd, 6/28). 

Boston Globe: Life Sciences Center Pays Off In Jobs, New Tax Revenues
As many other industries around them contracted, the biotech and medical-device sectors in Massachusetts added more than 8,000 jobs over the past five years. What's more, while life-sciences employment nationwide increased 12 percent nationally since 2000, Massachusetts' grew more than twice as fast. The state's edge? The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, according to a recent Boston Foundation report. With these kinds of results, the center is one job-creating initiative lawmakers should continue to fund generously (6/28).

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