KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Gephardt And Leavitt’s Bipartisan Push For Biomedical Innovation; Suggestions For The Super Committee

McClatchy: Biomedical Innovation Is America's Next Moon Landing
We Americans are rightfully proud of our can-do spirit. We know that our nation is capable of uniting for a common goal — and triumphing. In this time of economic challenge and political divisiveness, we are proposing an idea for our country's next common mission: biomedical innovation. From our combined decades of experience leading in the Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we see the biomedical frontier as America's greatest opportunity to align our nation's competencies and resources for a better future (Dick Gephardt and Mike Leavitt, 10/26).

Politico Pro: A Formula For Super Committee Success
The last attempt to reach a grand bargain was ultimately felled as a result of Republicans' ironclad allegiance to tea party activists and Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge. Democrats contributed to the collapse through their resistance to sweeping entitlement reform. Our plan doesn't ask either side to cross their major lines in the sand — rather it postpones that grand bargain until after the 2012 election. How? We don't touch top tax rates, capital gains or make an example of millionaires and billionaires. But we do raise real revenue by scotching tax earmarks for things like timber industry tree planting and NASCAR race tracks and by restraining some tax deductions (Ryan McConaghy and David Kendall, 10/26).

The Washington Post: Stuntmen Of The Super Committee 
Reasonable people on all sides know that tackling the nation's long-term debt problems will require both an increase in taxes and cuts to entitlement programs. But just weeks from the committee's deadline, Republicans continue to resist new tax revenues, and Democrats dance around the need for entitlement cuts. And so, as the 12 stuntmen on the committee assembled for their hearing this week, it was to discuss something different: the relatively small slice of the budget known as "discretionary spending." Even at this late stage, their comments — in public, at least — suggest they are less interested in agreeing than in making points (Dana Millbank, 10/26).

New England Journal of Medicine: Health Care's Role in Deficit Reduction — Guiding Principles 
Three principles should guide health-related deficit reduction. First, the highest priority should be lowering the long-term trend in overall growth in health care spending; reforms may be worthwhile even if they do little to reduce the 10-year deficit, so long as they put the overall health system on a better trajectory. Second, cuts that only shift the financing burden to states, businesses, or individuals without affecting system-wide spending are the least attractive. Third, the committee should avoid cuts that have a disproportionate effect on low-income people (Paul B. Ginsburg and Chapin White, 10/27). 

New England Journal of Medicine: The Constitutionality Of The Individual Mandate (video)
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, numerous lawsuits have been filed arguing that the federal mandate that individuals obtain health insurance is unconstitutional. ... Prof. Wendy Mariner moderates a videotaped discussion ... about the specific legal issues at stake, as well as the ultimate fate of the health care reform law as it progresses toward a Supreme Court ruling (Mariner, Balkin and Somin, 10/27). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Editorial: A Truly Bipartisan Push For Innovation
Minnesota's congressional delegation has done something radical in an era when bipartisanship seems extinct by working across the aisle on a sensible set of reforms to streamline the medical-device regulatory process…. Congress isn't proposing a dramatic revamping of the device regulatory system — which is good, because one wasn't needed. Instead, politicians have done their homework and have come up with important but moderate adjustments to foster innovation without compromising safety (10/26).

The Seattle Times: Initiative 1163: Leadership Means Having The Courage To Say We Can't Afford It 
Leadership is all about telling voters the truth about what the state can and cannot afford to do. A lot of voters will be tempted to support additional training for long-term-care workers, people who typically come into the home to help. But in this financial climate, the correct answer is "no," the state cannot afford the additional hours of training ushered in by Initiative 1163 (10/25).

iWatch News: Obama Plan Helping Those With Pre-Existing Health Conditions
Fortunately, ObamaCare already is forcing insurers to change their business practices. Insurance firms no longer can refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, the law will also apply to adults. Insurers will also not be able to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by charging them far more than healthier people (Potter, 10/27).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Applaud Visiting Nurses On Quasquicentennial
With so many renowned hospitals, there's no question that the region's vital health care economy is anchored in its bricks-and-mortar buildings. But several hundred boosters who will gather Saturday at the Union League of Philadelphia will be honoring a record of 125 years of caring for patients by an organization that could be considered the Delaware Valley's largest hospital without walls. As the nation's second-oldest (behind Boston) in-home nursing group, the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia started with funding from a dozen women public-health pioneers (10/27).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.