KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Today’s ‘Personhood’ Vote in Miss.; Reactions To Romney’s Health Care Plan

Bloomberg: ‘Personhood’ Laws Do Nothing to Resolve Debate on Abortion: Bloomberg View
What about in vitro fertilization, a process that both creates and discards embryos? What new rights would be afforded to a fetus, and how would those rights affect or compete with the rights of the woman who carries it? Would a woman who has an abortion be guilty of murder and subject to capital punishment? ... In their quest to ban abortion in Mississippi, the amendment’s drafters appear to have rushed past such concerns (11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney's Fiscal Awakening
On Medicaid, Mr. Romney favors block grants to the states capped at inflation plus 1%, which means governors would lead a wave of federalist experimentation instead of merely expanding the rolls with national taxpayers picking up the bill. This is now GOP orthodoxy, but no less valuable for that. As for the hardest nut, Medicare, Mr. Romney has moved about two-thirds of the way toward Paul Ryan's "premium support" plan (11/8).

The New York Times: The Serious One
Romney would create a premium support system, but he would also give seniors the option of a government-run insurance plan that works a lot like the current fee-for-service Medicare. This is politically smart because Democrats cannot legitimately charge that Romney is “ending Medicare.” But it is also substantively smart because, while people like me believe that intense competition among private insurers will lead to more innovation and cost reduction, we can’t really be sure (David Brooks, 11/7).

Politico: Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts Problem
Emphasizing the bipartisan, left-right pedigree of the individual mandate is not a good way to convince the voters it is radical policy or persuade the Supreme Court to overturn it. From the beginning, the Massachusetts plan was influenced by people who had supported a mandate nationally; was designed in part by consultants who later advised Obama, and still relies on the same justifications as the federal law. No matter how hard Romney tries, he cannot square this circle (W. James Antle III, 11/8).

Roll Call: Holsinger: Veterans Health Care Program Could Be Model For Medicare
[Super committee] members are searching for win-win scenarios, with no easy cuts readily apparent. Fortunately, when it comes to Medicare, there just might be one. ... the VA has led the way in various areas of health care, including implementing electronic medical records back in the 1980s (James W. Holsinger Jr., 11/8).

Politico: Delay Health Law’s Implementation
The law is now on shifting legal and political ground. Many of its rules are unworkable, and implementation is well behind schedule. Even where it seems feasible, evidence is growing that the substantial infrastructure — notably the exchanges and related insurance subsidies — won’t be ready by 2014. ... In this environment, it makes sense to clarify the future of health policy. Delaying the Affordable Care Act for two to four years would permit exactly that (Douglas Holtz-Eakin and James Capretta, 11/7).

Los Angeles Times: GOP Sees Disconnect Between Universal Phone, Healthcare Coverage
Conservatives tend to become apoplectic at the thought of the government requiring people to pay for health insurance or any form of public program designed to provide universal coverage. Yet most of those same conservatives — including Republican lawmakers — are perfectly at ease with the idea of requiring that all phone users pay a fee intended to provide universal coverage for telecom services (David Lazarus, 11/8).

The New York Times: Staring Into The Budget’s Abyss
The committee should be working overtime to avoid a sequester, which would cut virtually every discretionary program at the Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department by 10 percent in 2013. ... But as bad as the sequester would be, it would spare most social-insurance programs, making it better than the proposals by supercommittee Republicans to cut more than $2 trillion without raising any revenues. Those would largely spare the Pentagon but make deep cuts in programs that benefit the needy (11/7).

The Washington Post: Safety Nets For Mentally Ill Children Are Full Of Holes
Hospitals have become dumping grounds for families of children with mental illness and nowhere else to turn for help. ... We have all kinds of safety nets in place to ensure that children are able to get vaccinations, annual doctor visits and cold medicine. Yet mental health, in most cases, is an afterthought (Petula Dvorak, 11/7).

Forbes: The Department Of Health And Human Services’ Death Panel
It’s called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a committee of “experts” appointed by the Department of Health & Human Services. This group recently declared that men should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer. The task force makes a big deal about the unpleasant side effects in treating prostate cancer. But with a disease like cancer I’ll take the side effects of treatment over letting nature take its course. ... What’s going on with mammograms and testing for prostate cancer? At bottom, it’s an attempt to save money (Steve Forbes, 11/3).

The New York Times: The F.D.A. Ups Its Numbers
The Food and Drug Administration recently reported that in the last fiscal year it had approved 35 new drugs, a near-record for the decade, of which 24 were approved here before they were approved in any other country. ... The agency will now need to vigilantly monitor how these new drugs affect patients. In the mid-1990s, the F.D.A. approved much larger numbers of new drugs only to find that some had to be withdrawn from the market for safety reasons (11/7).

The Miami Herald: Toughen ALF Rules
The state’s special task force created by Gov. Rick Scott to find ways to improve assisted living facilities in the wake of The Miami Herald’s investigative series, “Neglected to Death,” wraps up its statewide outreach in Miami on Tuesday. So far, the group appears to be headed in the right direction to protect the elderly, mentally ill and disabled living at any of the 2,960 state-licensed facilities (11/7).

The Wall Street Journal: The Market for Kidneys, Livers And Lungs
Sometimes patients come from one country, donors from another, and the transplant occurs in a third. Impoverished and illiterate donors are often misinformed about surgery that awaits them, cheated out of promised payment, and deprived of medical follow-up. ... But whether in New Jersey or Belarus, the drama is the same: a patient frantically trying to save his own life and a poor donor trying to salvage his own (Sally Satel, 11/8).


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