KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Dr. Price And Medicare; The Impact Of New York’s Medicaid Program On New Jersey

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

Forbes: Questions On Medicare For Dr. Tom Price, Our Next Health Secretary
The approach to premium support advocated by Dr. Price is a better version of the increasingly popular Medicare Advantage program, whereby seniors’ Medicare Part A (hospital), Part B (physician), and (often) Part D (drugs) are rolled into one package offered by a commercial insurer. Although the Affordable Care Act partially financed Obamacare by reducing the amounts the federal government pays insurers to participate in Medicare Advantage, the opportunity to get out of traditional Medicare had become increasingly popular among seniors. (John Graham, 1/6)

Forbes: How New York's Bloated Medicaid Program Punishes New Jersey And Other States
Tony Soprano would be outraged; Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey’s congressional delegation should be. Every year, the state of New Jersey loses enormous wealth through the Medicaid program. As it happens, its neighbor to the north is gaining almost exactly that amount through its enormous Medicaid program—one full of waste and bloat. It’s fair to think of this Medicaid financing scheme as one that simply takes dollars out of New Jersey and gives them to New York. (Brian Blase, 1/8)

Sacramento Bee: Congress Should Stop The War On Planned Parenthood 
The 15-month, $1.6 million congressional “investigation” into Planned Parenthood is finally over, with the chilling announcement that Republicans in charge plan now to eviscerate the nonprofit most associated with reproductive rights. ... Baseless as the proposals were, House Speaker Paul Ryan swiftly announced that at least one – senselessly stripping Planned Parenthood of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds – will be among the first orders of business. (1/6)

Los Angeles Times: Defunding Planned Parenthood Hurts The Healthcare System
Way up high on the list of priorities of the newly empowered Republican-controlled Congress is the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the well-known and highly competent not-for-profit organization that provides a broad array of reproductive healthcare services to women throughout the country. Undermining or destroying Planned Parenthood has been a GOP obsession for years, but repeated efforts to cut the federal funding the organization receives have been unsuccessful. Last year, for instance, the House and Senate tried again to do so, but President Obama vetoed the bill. This year, however, Obama will no longer be there to do what needs to be done. (1/7)

Bloomberg: A New Attack On Women's Right To Choose
So far the new Republican Congress has proved better at identifying things it doesn't like -- Obamacare, for example, or an independent ethics office -- than actually getting rid of them. On one issue, however, Congress may yet get its way: abortion. (1/9) Reducing Cleveland's High Infant Mortality Rate The Boston Way
Just like in Cleveland, far too many of Boston's black babies, many of them impoverished, were dying in the 2000s despite the city's top-notch hospitals. Nearly 14 of every 1,000 of Boston black babies didn't live to see their first birthday in 2000, because of prematurity, congenital defects or dangerous sleeping habits, such as being put to bed on their stomachs or with blankets. And they were the main victims of the city and state's once high infant mortality rate. (Sharon Broussard, 1/7)

Boston Globe: Naturopathic Medicine Is Good For Massachusetts
It is time for Massachusetts consumers who seek out complementary therapies to be protected from unscrupulous practitioners, who can now falsely present themselves as naturopathic doctors. Licensure will set standards for training, education, and practice. This legislation has been vetted for 24 years by policymakers in the Legislature and in the executive branch, and by the other stakeholders, including the public. As we move to a system of more integrated health care, state licensure of NDs is a good idea. (Amy Rothenberg, 1/8)

The Des Moines Register: Iowa Has Medical Examiner Problems, Again
The State Medical Examiner's Office is reporting delays in autopsies. As a person once involved in this office, I find the failure to meet performance goals troubling. ... Now, with Dr. Julia Goodin's move to Tennessee, the staff is at three forensic pathologists. (We had zero in 1998.) NAME's standard of 200 cases per pathologist per year is now being exceeded by about 30 percent. (Dr. John C. O'Connor, 1/8)

The New York Times: The Hidden Gun Epidemic: Suicides
Ralph Demicco, a gun shop owner in Hooksett, N.H., was shocked in 2009 when three of his customers bought handguns and committed suicide over five days in separate shootings. He encountered firsthand the stark, barely noticed fact that more than 60 percent of the nation’s 30,000-plus gun deaths each year are acts of suicide, not accidents or homicidal attacks. In New Hampshire, where the suicide rate is 31 percent higher than the national average, over 85 percent of firearm deaths are suicides. The dealer reviewed the shop’s surveillance tapes. There were no giveaway signs of the troubles driving these customers to shoot themselves. “It’s just an ugly, ugly thing,” Mr. Demicco later told researchers for Harvard University’s School of Public Health. “I decided I must become involved.” (1/9)

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