KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Today’s Opinions: Ariz. Hospital And Abortion; Wall Street Journal’s Issues With PolitiFact; Calif.’s Anti-Smoking Success

The New York Times: A Matter Of Life Or Death
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix announced on Tuesday that it will continue to provide life-saving abortion care to patients even though it means losing its affiliation with the local Roman Catholic Diocese (12/23).

The Washington Post: David Camp's Plan: Taxes Made Simple
Many parents have heard FICA Screams. Indignant children, holding in trembling hands their first paychecks, demand to know what FICA is and why it is feasting on their pay. FICA (the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax) is government compassion, expressed numerically: It is the welfare state; it funds Social Security and Medicare. Sometimes it makes young people into conservatives (George F. Will, 12/23).

The Wall Street Journal: PolitiFiction
So the watchdog news outfit called PolitiFact has decided that its "lie of the year" is the phrase "a government takeover of health care." Ordinarily, lies need verbs and we'd leave the media criticism to others, but the White House has decided that PolitiFact's writ should be heard across the land and those words forever banished to describe ObamaCare. … PolitiFact's decree is part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and "facts," rather than differences of world view or principles. PolitiFact wants to define for everyone else what qualifies as a "fact," though in political debates the facts are often legitimately in dispute (12/23).

The Wall Street Journal: The FDA Is Evading The Law
This year, the Food and Drug Administration rejected the only medicine capable of treating the rare and fatal lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Pirfenidone, which has been available in Japan since 2008 and was just approved in Europe, was spurned by the FDA because the drug only showed efficacy in a single big trial-not the two large studies the FDA now requires. The decision to ban the drug is one of a rash of recent decisions that shows the FDA is making it more and more difficult for promising drugs to reach severely ill patients (Scott Gottlieb, 12/23).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Medicaid Opt-In Is Good Policy
We have learned from GAMC that severe cuts to the care of the chronically sick do not save money -- they just shift costs. That's why, given our present and future budget challenges, opting into Medicaid is the right move (Erin Murphy and Tim Huntley, 12/22).

San Jose Mercury News: Smoking Statistics Prove Value Of Proposition 99
Here's everything you need to know about California's grand experiment to reduce smoking: It's working. In 1988, voters passed Proposition 99, which increased the tobacco tax by 25 cents a pack and devoted 20 percent of the revenue to prevention. More than $1 billion has been spent since then on an aggressive anti-smoking campaign. The results reported this week: The adult smoking rate went from 22.7 percent in 1988 to 13.1 percent today, the second lowest of any state except Utah (12/22).

The Arizona Republic: Courts Must Vet Costly Law Now
Given the enormous costs associated with the law, Obamacare seems tailor-made for consolidation of existing lawsuits and for fast-tracking, a rarely employed process of side-stepping the usual appeals process. Everyone knows these health-care reforms will go before the Supreme Court. Nothing will be gained by pretending its impact will be held in suspended animation until that happens. It is having an impact now (12/23).

Detroit Free Press: Planned Parenthood Aids Health Care For Michigan Women, Needs Continued Funding
It's hard to believe that not a single state measures up when it comes to providing for women's health care needs. But that's the state of the union, according to a study released recently by the National Women's Law Center. The 10-year study from the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health Services University is called "Making the Grade on Women's Health." It ranks the states based on 26 measures of good health for women, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Lori Lamerand, 12/23).

NPR/National Review: New Antibiotics, Stat
The development of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle, just when we need them most. As drug-resistant bacteria are on the rampage worldwide, we find ourselves in a most precarious situation - one not unlike the pre-antibiotic era, before penicillin, when staphylococcal and pneumococcal infections were the dominant pathogens (Josh Bloom and Gilbert Ross, 12/22).
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