KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Romney Campaign’s Response To Ad Incites Conservatives; Opponents Of Law Should Give Back Their Rebates

Los Angeles Times: Hitting Romney Below The Belt?
The Romney people are trying a little jujitsu on an ad from Obama backers that implies Mitt Romney is responsible for the death of an Indiana woman who lacked health insurance. ... The Romney camp's reaction to all this, beyond accusations that Obama is calling their man a murderer, beggars belief. A spokeswoman said, "If people had been in Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney's healthcare plan, they would have had healthcare." Until now, Romney himself has refused to endorse his own plan in retrospect, except to say that it is unique to Massachusetts and what works in one state may not work in another. Famously, his Massachusetts plan includes the requirement that everybody purchase insurance, with help for those who can't afford it. This is the essence of Obama's plan, to which Romney now deeply objects (Michael Kinsley, 8/9).

Los Angeles Times: What Should Replace Obama And Romney's Sound And Fury?
Responding to the killer-capitalist canard on Wednesday on Fox News, (Romney spokeswoman Andrea) Saul talked about how the unfortunate decedent (as described in the pro-Obama ad) would have had health insurance, if she only lived in the Massachusetts where Romney once served as governor. If there is one thing true conservatives can’t do, it's embrace their candidate's most singular legislative achievement. "OMG," Erick Erickson of the Red State website practically wretched on Twitter. "This might just be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election. Wow" (James Rainey, 8/8).

The Washington Post: Romney And His Fictional Obama
Here’s a chance for all who think Obamacare is a socialist Big Government scheme to put their money where their ideology is: If you truly hate the Affordable Care Act, you must send back any of those rebate checks you receive from your insurance companies thanks to the new law (E.J. Dionne Jr., 8/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Why Not Paul Ryan?
The whispering over Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate is getting louder, and along with it we are being treated to the sotto voce angst of the GOP establishment: Whatever else Mitt does, he wouldn't dare pick Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, would he? Too risky, goes the Beltway chorus. His selection would make Medicare and the House budget the issue, not the economy. The 42-year-old is too young, too wonky, too, you know, serious. Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult—that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really believes in something, and we certainly can't have that (8/8).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Bad Attitudes Toward Health Care Changes
The changes currently taking place in health care are huge, pervasive and irresistible. That's only to be expected as health care moves toward consuming 20 percent of America's GDP. As part of the process it's predictable that people with a stake in preserving or even reversing the status quo would respond with what psychologists call ego defense mechanisms.  Predictable and understandable, yes, but that doesn't make their wails appealing. And as guides to public policy, ego defenses typically lead to chaos and disaster (Daniel R. Hoffman, 8/8).

The New England Journal of Medicine: When the Cost Curve Bent — Pre-Recession Moderation in Health Care Spending
A critical question is whether the low growth rate (of U.S. health care spending) is likely to continue — an issue with enormous implications for the country's fiscal future. If the slowdown resulted from the recession, the rate is likely to increase as we return to full employment; if not, it may provide a respite from the problems created by spending inflation. Our analysis of monthly data on health care spending shows that the moderation in growth began well before the recession and has continued through May 2012 (Charles Roehrig, Ani Turner, Paul Hughes-Cromwick and George Miller, 8/9).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Transparency for Clinical Trials — The TEST Act
In the past few years, registration of clinical trials in a publicly accessible database has become routine. In the United States, much of the impetus for registration derives from the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA). As a result of this law and other actions, most interventional clinical trials conducted in the United States have been registered at, where, in most cases, the trial results must also be reported. ... But there are loopholes in FDAAA that have made it possible for some entities to conduct clinical trials without registering them or reporting the results (Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, 8/9).

The New York Times' Opinionator: Repairing Surgery Deficit
Across Africa, countless people die or become disabled because they cannot obtain necessary surgeries. It is conservatively estimated that 56 million people in sub-Saharan Africa — over twice the number living with H.I.V./AIDS — need a surgery today. Some need cesarean sections or hernia repairs, while others require cataract surgery or treatment for physical trauma. With high-quality surgery available in the world's developed countries (for those who can afford the coverage or the price tag), it is easy to forget how crucial that option can be for a patient (Sarika Bansal, 8/8).

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