KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Obama’s ‘Ideological Gymnastics;’ Health Law’s Promise Of Mental Health Parity; Perry’s ‘Platitudes’ On Care In Texas

The Washington Post: Obama's Tax Triple Axel
Mitt Romney is under fire for flip-flopping when he declared that the individual mandate is a tax, after a campaign adviser said it was not. In a front-page story, the New York Times wrote that Romney's statement "prompted renewed criticism that he was willing to adjust his views for political expediency." Bill Burton of the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA opined on what he called "Romney's ideological gymnastics." With all respect, if anyone has "adjusted his views for political expediency" or engaged in "ideological gymnastics" in the debate over the individual mandate, it is Barack Obama (Marc A. Thiessen, 7/9).

The Washington Post: The Affordable Care Act Has Made The U.S. Health-Care System Stronger
The Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act was a turning point in the health-care debate, a chance to stop refighting old political battles and move forward with implementing and improving a law that is already lowering health-care costs and providing more security for millions of American families. Instead, congressional Republicans will spend Wednesday staging yet another repeal vote (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 7/9).

The New York Times: Good News For Mental Illness In Health Law
Americans with mental illness had good reason to celebrate when the Supreme Court upheld President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The law promises to give them something they have never had before: near-universal health insurance, not just for their medical problems but for psychiatric disorders as well (Dr. Richard A. Friedman, 7/9).

Dallas Morning News: Rick Perry's Predictable Call On Health Care
If you were waiting for (Gov. Rick) Perry to offer a prescription for improving coverage, now that Texas has chosen its course, you're still waiting. Instead, the governor offered slogans and platitudes. Somewhat astonishing, given the evidence, he even asserted in an interview with Fox News that "every Texan has health care in this state." Technically true, but only because hospitals can’t turn emergencies away. That is hardly a recommendation for the Texas health care model, which by several measures fails its people every day (7/9).

Los Angeles Times: Will Medicaid Patients Lose In WellPoint Purchase Of Amerigroup?
WellPoint's nearly $5-billion acquisition of Medicaid provider Amerigroup is a bet by one of the country's largest private insurers that there are big bucks to be made from publicly funded coverage. It's also an indication that private insurers expect cash-strapped states increasingly to give them the job of managing medical plans for low-income people (David Lazarus, 7/10).

Journal of the American Medical Association: The Poorest Of Times: A Shift In 'Death Panel' Rhetoric
Last week, the death panel rhetoric resurfaced in a way that promises to continue beyond 2012. It now is being used to call for overturning the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is written into the ACA as a way of controlling health care costs. In an interview on Fox News, Palin said the "death panel" is the IPAB: it "will tell you whether your level of productivity in society is worthy of receiving the rationed care that will be the result of Obamacare" (Diana J. Mason, 7/9).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Law Helps Small Businesses Be Socially Responsible
But it is important not to overgeneralize when discussing the impact the health care law will have on businesses. In fact, for companies with fewer than 50 full-time employees, the law actually provides a golden opportunity for making the kind of investment that I believe makes businesses stronger in the long run (Shrita D. Sterlin, 7/9).

The Wall Street Journal: Community Organizers Sue Obama
From an office in the rectory of Holy Rosary Church on the city's South Side, (Barack Obama) began his career as a community organizer. Now the one-time allies are at loggerheads. On Monday, Catholic Charities of Chicago—the social-welfare arm of the archdiocese—joined other Illinois Catholic organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration's mandate that would force these Catholic groups to offer free contraceptives through their insurance, in violation of church teaching. The suit's message is direct: Mr. President, your mandate will make it impossible for us to do our jobs (William McGurn, 7/9).

Medscape:  PCPs Weigh In On SCOTUS:  Primary Care Roundtable
On July 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that 2 key and controversial provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were constitutional: the individual mandate and state expansion of Medicaid. The press has covered these issues extensively, focusing on the consequences for patients and the general public. We asked members from our internal medicine and family medicine advisory boards about their thoughts and how the Court's decision might affect primary care physicians (7/9).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Republican Policies To Blame For Health Care Mess
There’s a pernicious tendency in politics that the arsonists who start the fire later return to the scene offering to solve the problem. That's what's happening now with the Republicans and health care (Francis M. Miller, 7/9).

Sacramento Bee: Health Reform Will Benefit Millions Of Californians
What does the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act mean for millions of Californians? If you're a 40-year-old single working mother with three kids – it means a lot. With a family income of $64,000, she's not poor but would be challenged to pay the $14,200 annual premium it would cost her for a family health plan (Peter V. Lee, 7/10).

The Wall Street Journal: An Organ 'Donor' Revolution
With all eyes fixed on the Supreme Court's recent health-care decision, a life-saving development swooped in under the radar: It is now legal to compensate bone-marrow donors. This represents a triumph for the 2,000-3,000 people with cancer and blood diseases who die each year while awaiting a marrow transplant (Sally Satel, 7/9).

Miami Herald/McClatchy Newspapers: Florida Loses Another Ridiculous Legal Battle
A Miami federal judge has struck down the new law prohibiting Florida doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The ruling extends the legal losing streak of Gov. Rick Scott and right-wing lawmakers, who have set a pathetic record for unconstitutional bills. Written by the National Rifle Association, the so-called Firearm Owners' Privacy Act would have prevented concerned physicians from asking patients about guns kept in their houses. It's a reasonable query in domestic situations in which children might be at risk (Carl Hiaasen, 7/9).

Politico: Congress Must Stop Automatic Spending Cuts
Congress has now begun to focus on the automatic reductions in spending — or sequester — due to take effect in January because the legislators did not achieve the deficit-reduction goal they set for themselves in the 2011 bipartisan Budget Control Act. This is good news ... the sequester would cut overall domestic spending by about 8 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. ... Even an 8 percent cut, though, would cause severe harm to many of the investments most critical for our country’s long-term economic growth. Close to 700,000 young children and mothers would lose nutrition assistance they need to remain healthy. … The National Institutes of Health would issue about 700 fewer grants to medical researchers and up to 1,500 grants would be cut from the National Science Foundation (OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, 7/10).

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