Viewpoints: Contraception Indignation ‘Built On Air’; Frustration With VA’s Backlog
The New York Times: The Politics Of Religion
Thirteen Roman Catholic dioceses and some Catholic-related groups scattered lawsuits across a dozen federal courts last week claiming that President Obama was violating their religious freedom by including contraceptives in basic health care coverage for female employees. It was a dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air (5/27).
The Wall Street Journal: Cheer, Cheer For Old Notre Dame
Does the Indiana Democrat running for the U.S. Senate support Notre Dame's lawsuit against the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate? After all, the Democrat in question, Joe Donnelly, is a double Domer, boasting both undergraduate and law degrees from Notre Dame. He represents South Bend in Congress. ... Mr. Donnelly has President Obama to thank for this predicament. The Indiana congressman was among the pro-life Democrats who folded on the health care bill after a last-minute phone call from a former Notre Dame president, the Rev. Ted Hesburgh -- a call made at the urging of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (William McGurn, 5/28).
Los Angeles Times: Tobacco Taxes Are Great, But Proposition 29 Stinks
The vehicle is Proposition 29, which would jack up the state tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack, generating some $800 million a year mostly for cancer research, with some going to related health and anti-smoking programs. The weighing of intention vs. result here is fairly straightforward. Raising $800 million a year for the state: Good. Discouraging smoking via a harsh tax: Great. Sequestering the money for a limited purpose: Bad. Really bad (Michael Hiltzik, 5/27).
Chicago Sun-Times: State Needs Long-Term Investments In Students
Without major changes, health care for our neediest residents and retirement benefits for faithful public employees will eat 50 percent of the state’s spending plan in 2014. Each dollar added to that total takes away a dollar from human services, law enforcement or other expenses. … We need a dollar cigarette tax to fund health-care coverage that no one has the heart to cut (Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon, 5/28).
The New York Times: The V.A.’s Shameful Betrayal
The Department of Veterans Affairs, already under enormous strain from the aging of the Vietnam generation, the end of the Iraq war and the continuing return of combat troops from Afghanistan, announced in April that it would increase its mental health staff by about 10 percent. But too many veterans waging a lonely and emotional struggle to resume a normal life continue to find the agency a source of disappointment rather than healing (Mike Scotti, 5/27).
Houston Chronicle: Backlogs At The VA Are Inexcusable
More than two years ago, in response to an enormous backlog of unprocessed veterans' disability claims, Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, vowed to "break the back of the backlog'' within a year. That didn't happen. … We do well to honor those we have lost in war, but we can, and we must, do a better job of honoring those who have fought our wars for us and returned home less than whole (5/25).
The New York Times: When Costly Medical Care Just Adds To The Pain
Why, many people ask, shouldn't the richest country in the world spend whatever is necessary to protect and preserve its citizens' health? This is the philosophy under which our health care system operates, and it promises to bankrupt us without necessarily improving our health. In more instances than many people realize, doing more medically can be worse than doing less. Too often, costly, overly aggressive medical care causes more pain and suffering than if nothing had been done at all (Jane Brody, 5/27).
Boston Globe: For-Profit Cancer Hospitals Deserve Full Review In N.H.
The proposed lineup of for-profit "specialty" hospitals along the Massachusetts border in New Hampshire, like the existing state stores that offer cheaper alcohol and cigarettes, is an extension of New Hampshire’s longstanding efforts to serve the Massachusetts market with lower-taxed and less-regulated products and services. ... While greater competition to provide basic health care services is needed to drive down prices, government still bears a responsibility for maintaining standards of quality care (5/27).
Boston Globe: 'Haves' And 'Have-Nots' In Mass. Health Care
In what has become an annual rite, Massachusetts will hold public hearings on health care costs in early June. This year if you listen closely, you will already hear some providers and insurers warming their engines and arguments to proclaim "cost control is working, just give us time and don’t interfere with the market through government intervention or regulation." For the well-heeled, the system is working. The reality is that for most providers, and more importantly, for most consumers, it is not (Ellen Zane, 5/25).
Arizona Republic: Ariz. Prison Health Care Needs Overhaul
A walk down the windowless, concrete hallways in any of Arizona's prison complexes reveals conditions a lawsuit says puts thousands of inmates at substantial risk of abuse and neglect, the kind that results in amputation, disfigurement and even death. … The lawsuit filed in March by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Prison Law Office documented numerous examples of extreme indifference on the part of prison officials (Doris Marie Provine, 5/27).
Arizona Republic: Immunization Is Everyone's Duty
Let's be clear: Getting your child immunized is not just a personal choice. It can be a matter of life and death for others. The decision not to immunize your child against infectious diseases can endanger other children, especially infants, people who have Down syndrome -- their immune systems may be weakened -- and those who take medication that compromises the immune systems. These people can be at increased risk even if they have been immunized. Their best protection is if those around them have been vaccinated (5/26).
Des Moines Register: President And Congress Must Stop The Blame Game
Both parties and previous administrations and Congresses are responsible for the red ink, which spiked during the recession. Both parties must reach consensus on turning that around. That means increasing federal tax revenues and reducing spending. Taxes are not evil; they pay for things people expect from the federal government. Spending cuts, likewise, are not necessarily designed to destroy an essential program, whether it be the military or Medicare (5/26).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: A Health Care Model We Can't Build Alone
At Courage Center, we know that by focusing on the most complex and toughest-to-serve individuals, we can save even more money. … But we need to be very honest. Our health care home model produces fabulous results for people with complex lives and is performing groundbreaking work. But unless we fundamentally change how we pay for services like this, our model is not financially viable (Jan Malcolm, 5/28).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Congress Sharpens Medicaid Questions
Minnesota won't start its new, independent audits of the state's controversial $4 billion-a-year Medicaid contracting until 2014 at the earliest. … Given that the state's Medicaid program is the focus of three federal investigations, the new audits should start now -- not in two years, as the recently passed HMO audit legislation provides for…. As painful as it is to see Minnesota health care in congressional crosshairs, the scrutiny is needed and has broader implications as Medicaid is expanded under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (5/26).
Chicago Sun-Times: Legislators Must Reform Medicaid, Pensions, Pass A Budget
What state legislators do -- or don't do -- this week will shape the future of Illinois for generations to come. The state faces an unfunded pension liability of $83 billion and about $8.5 billion in unpaid bills, giving legislators no choice but to cut two of the state’s biggest-ticket items: public employee pensions and Medicaid (5/25).