KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Sandra Fluke On Slurs; Shifting The Cost Of Uncompensated Care

CNN: Slurs Won't Silence Women 
(D)espite the misinformation being spread, the regulation under discussion has absolutely nothing to do with government funding: It is all about the insurance policies provided by private employers and universities that are financed by individual workers, students and their families -- not taxpayers. I am talking about women who, despite paying their own premiums, cannot obtain coverage of contraception on their private insurance, even when their employer or university contributes nothing to that insurance. Restricting access to such a basic health care service, which 99% of sexually experienced American women have used and 62% of American women are using right now, is out of touch with public sentiment (Sandra Fluke, 3/13).

The New York Times: Yet Another Curb On Abortion
Republicans on Capitol Hill chose an odd way to mark International Women’s Day on Thursday. The Judiciary Committee in the Republican-controlled House held a hearing to promote a mean-spirited and constitutionally suspect bill called the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. It is both an attack on women’s rights and on the basic principles of federalism (3/12).

Politico: Medicare Fight Is Not Over Yet
It's déjà vu all over again. This Republican Congress of Chronic Chaos is dusting off last year's same failed playbook — where seniors would lose their Medicare while Republicans give more tax breaks to millionaires and Big Oil companies. I have one response: Bring it on. Tone-deaf House Republicans are preparing a budget that will — again — protect millionaires over Medicare. As with their last budget, House Republicans are giving Americans a window into their souls. And the American people don’t like what they're seeing (Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), 3/12).

The Sacramento Bee: 2014's Health Changes Can't Come Too Soon
The harsh reality is that in the United States nearly 50 million people have no insurance – and, what is perhaps equally disturbing, many are underinsured. When the uninsured and underinsured cannot pay all of their out-of-pocket medical costs, these costs are written off by doctors and hospitals as "uncompensated care" and get shifted to other people with insurance. This cycle of cost-shifting is a large part of what the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010, attempts to address. Though change can't come fast enough, there is an inevitable time lag, with most improvements taking effect in 2014. To set things up takes some time (3/13).

iWatch News: Ripple Effect Of 'Cost-Shifting' Uncompensated Medical Care
It is not truly accurate, of course, that that $30 million a year in uncompensated care at Bay Medical Center (in Panama City, Fla.) is, indeed, uncompensated. Somebody has to pay for it. And guess who that is? It is all of us. Even Mary Brown (one of the people who filed suit against the federal health law). She and the rest of us cover that uncompensated care either through higher taxes to support the Medicare and Medicaid programs or through higher health insurance premiums (Wendell Potter, 3/12).

Medscape: Don't Dismiss Patients Who Won't Vaccinate!
[Y]ou can try and get over vaccine hesitancy by pointing out that you are not just having your child vaccinated because you want to protect them, but you want to protect others who can't receive vaccines, such as babies, people with immune diseases, people who have had transplants, and the elderly. You want to have your child vaccinated to protect grandmothers, grandfathers, or a new baby in the family. That moral reason may swing some parents over, too (Art Caplan, 3/12).

Archives of Internal Medicine: How To Feed And Grow Your Health Care System
While most Americans may accurately assess how well their washing machines, their hairdressers, or even their airlines are performing, their evaluations of physicians and health care interventions may have limited validity. ... Satisfaction with seemingly adverse outcomes of potentially excessive medical care appears to be the norm. Numerous studies have found that patients are consistently highly satisfied with one of the most common downsides of medical care—false-positive test results and the downstream events that follow. Moreover, such patients are more likely to undergo the same (and likely other) testing in the future, dismissing their anxiety and other adverse effects as a negligible price for a good outcome. The same heuristic operates on the physician (Dr. Brenda E. Sirovich, 3/13).

Archives of Internal Medicine: Holy Cow! What's Good For You Is Good For Our Planet
More than 75% of the $2.6 trillion in annual US health care costs are from chronic diseases. Eating less red meat is likely to reduce morbidity from these illnesses, thereby reducing health care costs. In the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, patients who adhered to healthy dietary principles (low meat consumption and high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread), never smoked, had a body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) less than 30, and had at least 30 minutes per day of physical activity had a 78% lower overall risk of developing a chronic disease (Dr. Dean Ornish, 3/13).

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