KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Sen. Barrasso Warns Insurance Buyers To Beware; It Will Take Time To Assess Marketplaces

USA Today: Beware Obamacare
Today begins the first phase of Obamacare's big test. The Obama administration has spent months and millions of dollars promising people great benefits from the new government-run health insurance exchanges. Now Americans will see for themselves. ... Instead of lower health care costs and better access to care, here are four reasons for the buyer to beware (Sen. John Barrasso, 10/1).

Politico: No Quick Verdict On Obamacare
October 1 is a handy news hook for coverage of Obamacare as it moves from a political dogfight to a reality — a new phase for the law. But it is not a magic moment to make a judgment about the ACA. All sides will be spinning their version of the early implementation experience, but it will take longer to come to any kind of reasonable judgment about how the law is working and what its lessons are. And while the noise level will be highest in Washington, in the end it's the American people who will decide whether they like what they are getting from Obamacare or not (Drew Altman, 9/30).

The Washington Post: Everyone Should Hope Obamacare Works
The Affordable Care Act's market­places open Tuesday, even though the federal government has shut down. A lot of people don't know what the opening means, let alone how the broader law is supposed to work. The political debate doesn't help: It has become increasingly distorted since the law passed three years ago, culminating in inflated Republican claims in recent days that the system will harm, rather than improve, health care for many Americans. That’s not only bad for President Obama’s signature policy achievement, it’s also bad for the health-care system (10/1).

USA Today: Mend Obamacare, Don't End It: Our View
From all indications, Tuesday's Obamacare rollout will be bumpy. ... Should the whole thing just be shut down or delayed for a year, which Republicans have been demanding as their price for averting a government shutdown Tuesday? Hardly. That reasoning skips over an inconvenient fact: No matter how rocky the start-up proves to be, it will be a step up because it will provide a new route to insurance for millions who until now had no option at all (9/30).

USA Today: Obamacare Not Ready For Prime Time: Opposing View
Despite the happy talk from President Obama about enrollment being as easy as online shopping, consumers are in for some big shocks. The first will be the daunting costs. Health insurance in the exchanges will be far from free. In most states, premiums will be higher than in the private market today, especially for the young people the administration most needs to enroll (Grace-Marie Turner, 9/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare's Technology Mess
President Obama is bracing Americans for inevitable problems as the Affordable Care Act rolls out this week, but what he calls "glitches" are hardly routine. Information technology is ObamaCare's Achilles' heel. The faulty IT will expose Americans to lost data, attempts to enroll online that fail and the risk of fraud (Scott Gottlieb and Michael Astrue, 9/30).

Medpage Today: Cost Savings Right Under Our Noses
As deliberations over how to make healthcare more cost-effective continue to play out in forums across the country -- from the U.S. Congress to state governments to health systems and hospitals -- it strikes me that we are paying insufficient attention to what should be an obvious consideration – the cost of supplies. Supplies run the gamut -- from operating tables, artificial knees, intravenous solutions, and wound dressings to bed linens, medication carts, cleaning supplies, and cafeteria food. By some estimates, the "supply chain" represents as much as 40 percent to 50 percent of a hospital's or health system's operating cost, amounts that are exceeded only by the cost of labor (Dr. David Nash, 9/30).

The Journal of the American Medical Association: The Elusive Path To Health Care Sustainability
Despite the recent slowdown in health care inflation, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid, increases in health care costs threaten to exceed the nation's capacity to pay. ... This national challenge calls for serious, bipartisan action. But amidst today's polarized policy-making environment, restoring financial sustainability to Medicare, Medicaid, and private health care continues to confound lawmakers, and the path toward a more sustainable, affordable, high-performing health system remains elusive. Still, despite the division and gridlock paralyzing the making of health care policy today, a consensus is emerging among health care experts and stakeholders regarding the next steps the nation must take toward health care sustainability (John C. Lewin, G. Lawrence Atkins and Larry McNeely, 9/30).

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