KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Looking Beyond The Court’s Eventual Decision

Los Angeles Times: Getting Past Healthcare's Individual Mandate
Speculation about the likely death of "Obamacare" has raged ever since the Supreme Court heard three intense days of legal arguments in March. The pundits have crowed about how the individual mandate is the Achilles' heel of President Obama's healthcare law (Theda Skocpol and Lawrence R. Jacobs, 6/20). 

Reuters: The Supreme Court, Healthcare And You
The political consequences (of the Supreme Court decision) may be immediate and severe, but the personal ramifications will be less extreme. Nobody should expect to lose part or all of their coverage overnight, and health costs won't immediately ratchet up or down in response. "We've gotten assurances that insurers and employers won't change anything mid-stream, and will hang on for a while," said Jeff Munn, a benefits consultant with Fidelity Investments, who works with employers (Linda Stern, 6/20).

Boston Globe: Obama Tries To Sell Health Care Law, But It’s Too Late
The failure to present health care reform as the big deal that Vice President Joe Biden said it was cries out for further explication. Instead of mounting a Koch Brothers-like effort to promote its benefits, the president let the other side demonize it. Once Ted Kennedy’s booming voice was silenced, no progressive in Washington — and certainly, no one in the White House — stepped up to frame access to decent, quality health care the way Kennedy framed it — as a fundamental American right, not a privilege (Joan Vennochi, 6/21).

Forbes: Whatever Its Pending Decision, The Supreme Court Won't Decide The Future Of Health Care
With the Supreme Court expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act later this month, here’s my prediction: Anyone who believes that this decision will settle the issue of health care reform, one way or the other, will be disappointed (John Lechleiter, 6/20).

Fox News: Curing Disease Matters More Than Supreme Court Decision On ObamaCare
All of Washington’s permutations of health "reform" – ObamaCare, RyanCare, Simpson-Bowles – all of them, regardless of where their creators sit on the ideological spectrum are about how we pay for treatments, rather than the bigger issue of how we improve health. Our health debate should be much more about medical science: curing disease, identifying who’s at risk to get a disease and helping them avoid it, and creating regenerative technology to end crippling disabilities. But in Washington, how you pay for something is the thing itself. How we pay for health care is health care (Jeremy Shane, 6/20).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Do-It-Yourself Health Care Reform
But, one job health care reform can’t do is change you. And why should you or I or any of us change? The simple answer is because the choices we make have a lot to do with how healthy we are. Besides lifestyle choices, the medical world talks a lot about the importance of preventive care. The idea is that if we can just make sure John Doe and Jan Doe never get diabetes, then we’ll never have to treat them for diabetes or any diabetes-related complications (Gena Akers, 6/20).

The New York Times: Anti-Abortion Grandstanding
Republican lawmakers in Iowa are demanding that the state Department of Human Services stop paying for any abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, or severe physical or mental deformities. Under federal law, federal money is available for abortions in those cases, and only those cases. ... If the state government goes along, Iowa stands to lose federal Medicaid money. It’s not clear how much. ... Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this story is that Iowa Republicans are willing to risk losing money for a glancingly small number of abortions (Andrew Rosenthal, 6/20).

JAMA: Mitt Romney: Physicians Should Be Like Car Salesmen
Mitt Romney gave a speech about health care last week. We all know he is in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This speech, which laid out his ideas for its replacement, didn’t get a lot of attention. That may be good news for Romney, for the truth of the matter is that his plan for replacing the ACA is degrading to doctors and patients. For physicians, it would mean a loss of professional esteem. For patients, it would mean losing the consumer protections provided by the ACA and replacing them by passing a law that already exists. It's snake oil dressed up as policy, and it's scary (David M. Cutler, 6/20).

Roll Call: Obesity Epidemic Requires All-Out Response
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Baton Rouge, La., area in 2005, I worked with others in our community to turn an abandoned Kmart store into an improvised hospital to care for the casualties. Politics did not matter. This was a natural disaster, and it demanded an all-out, all-hands-on-deck response. The same is true of the national epidemic of obesity. This is why I co-hosted a briefing this week with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat, to inform Congressional staff and the general public about the physical and financial toll of weight-related problems (Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., 6/21). 

New England Journal of Medicine: The Burden Of Disease And The Changing Task Of Medicine
In many respects, our medical systems are best suited to diseases of the past, not those of the present or future. We must continue to adapt health systems and health policy as the burden of disease evolves. But we must also do more. Diseases can never be reduced to molecular pathways, mere technical problems requiring treatments or cures. Disease is a complex domain of human experience, involving explanation, expectation, and meaning (Drs. David S. Jones, Scott H. Podolsky, and Jeremy A. Greene, 6/21). 

New England Journal of Medicine: Automated Hovering In Health Care — Watching Over The 5000 Hours
[The] reactive, visit-based model in which patients are seen when they become ill, typically during hospitalizations and at outpatient visits ... falls short not just because it is expensive and often fails to proactively improve health, but also because so much of health is explained by individual behaviors, most of which occur outside health care encounters. Indeed, even patients with chronic illness might spend only a few hours a year with a doctor or nurse, but they spend 5000 waking hours each year engaged in everything else (Dr. David A. Asch, Ralph W. Muller and Dr. Kevin G. Volpp, 6/20). 

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