KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: States May Not Be Up To The Challenge Of Setting Up Exchanges; Post Office’s ‘Default Day’

The Wall Street Journal: 'Exchange' For The Worst 
On the ever-lengthening fiasco list, the "exchange" problem is one of the worst. Congress told states to build these bureaucracies that will dispense health insurance subsidies and regulate coverage, but by and large the states aren't doing so. ... The exchanges do not merely subsidize but must verify who is eligible by income and residency, police compliance with the individual mandate and report scofflaws to the Internal Revenue Service; regulate insurers and enforce price controls; and penalize businesses that don't insure their employees. All this is a vast, complex, extremely technical and expensive undertaking that the states can barely handle, even if they wanted to (7/30).

The New York Times: It's D-Day For The Post Office
Welcome to the week the United States Postal Service defaults on a major obligation. D-Day is Wednesday, Aug. 1, when the Postal Service is obligated, by statute, to make a $5.5 billion payment, money that is supposed to be put aside to "prefund" health benefits for future retirees. But, with less than $1 billion in the bank, the Postal Service announced on Monday that it would not be making the payment. It has a second payment, for $5.6 billion, due in September. Unless lightning strikes, it won't be making that one either (Joe Nocera, 7/30). 

The Washington Post: Social Security Disability Insurance's Incentive Not To Work
Social Security Disability Insurance, however, pays people who can show that they are too mentally or physically impaired to remain in the labor force. In short, for many workers, SSDI creates a quasi-right not to work. This paradox is getting expensive. SSDI spending has doubled as a percentage of gross domestic product in the last 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (Charles Lane, 7/30).

Fox News: Obama Administration Chooses Planned Parenthood Over Women's Health
The Obama administration’s decision this month to award $3.1 million in federal funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning groups in New Jersey comes as no surprise. Despite the $15 trillion national debt, the administration seems willing to keep borrowing to support the nation’s largest abortion provider. And this isn't the first time the Obama administration has stepped in to ensure that taxpayer dollars continue to flow to its favorite abortion provider even at the expense of women’s health care (Kellie Fiedorek, 7/30).

The Washington Post: House Late-Term Abortion Bill Exploits The District
Legislation that would ban late-term abortions in the District is set for a vote this week on the House floor under a procedure that is normally used for non-controversial things like naming post offices or honoring folks back home. That the Republican leadership is suspending its rules for this bill suggests it's more interested in putting on a show to placate special interests than actually passing the measure. Or it thinks infringing on the authority of a local government to limit women's constitutional rights is no big deal. Either way, it's a misuse of Congress’s time and another cynical exploitation of the District to advance others' political agendas (7/30). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Worst Possible Time To Cut Research
Minnesota's congressional delegation must more prominently wield its clout to prevent harmful cuts to medical research funding -- an economic engine vital to the state and the nation. Major federal budget decisions aren't likely until after this fall's election. But disturbing recent moves in Washington, D.C., suggest that policymakers are willing to potentially delay medical advances and risk the country's leadership position in global research by inadequately funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other critical initiatives (7/30).

The New York Times: A Battle For Florida's Courts
Under Florida's system of choosing Supreme Court justices, the governor makes the initial appointments, then voters get to decide every six years whether to keep them. This system of "retention elections" was intended to avoid the politicization of the courts associated with regular, multicandidate judicial elections. It is not working out that way this time. Some conservatives are trying to purge three moderate justices facing a retention vote in November: R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. The only Democratic appointees on the state's seven-member court, they are being singled out for various rulings, including a decision in 2010 that blocked from the ballot a misleadingly worded constitutional amendment designed to permit the state to opt out of national health care reform (7/30). 

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