KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Exploring Today’s Health Policy Buzz Words… Single-Payer, Transparency, Market Stabilization

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

The Washington Post: Sorry, Republicans, But Most People Support Single-Payer Health Care
Despite the rise of the tea party and unified Republican control of government, one decidedly anti-free-market idea appears ascendant: single-payer health care. And it’s no wonder, given that a record-high share of the population receives government-provided health insurance. As a country, we’ve long since acquiesced to the idea that Uncle Sam should give insurance to the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, poor adults, poor kids, pregnant women and the lower middle class. (Catherine Rampell, 4/17)

Vox: The GOP’s Problem On Health Reform Is They’ve Spent Years Hiding Their Real Position
The most interesting policy argument in America right now is the debate between conservatives’ real position on health care and their fake position. The fake, but popular, position goes something like this: Conservatives think everyone deserves affordable health insurance, but they disagree with Democrats about how to get everyone covered at the best price. This was the language that surrounded Paul Ryan and Donald Trump’s Obamacare alternative .... Their real position is that universal coverage is a philosophically unsound goal, and that blocking Democrats from creating a universal health care system is of overriding importance. To many conservatives, it is not the government’s role to make sure everyone who wants health insurance can get it, and it would be a massive step toward socialism if that changed. (Ezra Klein, 4/17)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:  Obamacare Is Failing Wisconsin
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Obamacare is not in the death spiral that Republicans are claiming, and health insurers might soon see profitable years ahead. ... However, when you read further you learn why insurers may start profiting from the Obamacare exchanges. ... Simply stated, insurers are charging individuals more while offering fewer choices and services. This isn’t a positive development for our health system or the American people. (Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, (R-Wis.) 4/17)

Real Clear Health: Don't Meddle With Medicare's Prescription Drug Benefit
Seema Verma, the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently praised Medicare's prescription drug benefit for giving seniors access to affordable medicines, saying she was "thankful" for the program. There's a lot to be thankful for. Medicare Part D, as the drug benefit is known, provides seniors with huge discounts on medicines, enabling them to live healthier, longer lives. A recent University of Illinois study found that Part D has reduced elderly mortality by 2.2 percent annually since 2006. That's good news for the more than 41 million Americans who currently rely on the program for prescription drug coverage. (Joel White, 4/18)

Idaho Statesman: Health Care Failed My Son — And I’m A Doctor 
Jack had access to care. Despite this, the correct diagnosis was not made early on in his disease course; early diagnosis and appropriate intervention may have made a difference. We need a better understanding into the science behind mental health illnesses, including substance abuse disorder, to develop better methods of detection, prevention and treatment. (Kathryn Beattie, 4/17)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mallinckrodt Helps Address Opioid Misuse, Diversion
As a publicly traded company, Mallinckrodt routinely discloses information affecting the company, such as the agreement in principle reached with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to settle the previously disclosed investigations of the company’s monitoring programs for controlled substances. The disclosure of the $35 million settlement was in no way meant to downplay the seriousness of the opioid epidemic. Mallinckrodt recognizes that prescription drug abuse is one of the St. Louis region’s — and the nation’s — greatest health and safety concerns, with devastating societal and emotional effects as well as an economic burden on the healthcare system. (Mark Trudeau, 4/18)

The Washington Post: Long-Term Care Insurance Facing Major Pricing Shift
One of the biggest fears people have about retirement is getting sick and running out of money to cover their health issues. So in comes long-term care insurance, which can cover the cost of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and in-home care. Medicare — except in very limited situations — does not cover long-term care. Medicaid covers long-term care, but to qualify for the benefit, you have to be pretty poor. (Michelle Singletary, 4/17)

Detroit Free Press: Bills To Weaken Vaccine Rules Put Kids At Risk
As pediatricians in training, here are some patients we have encountered recently: a previously healthy toddler who did not receive his yearly influenza vaccine and was placed on full life support due to multi-organ failure from the flu. An infant too young to receive vaccines who caught whooping cough at her older sister’s school and required admission to intensive care. A preschooler who was receiving chemotherapy for leukemia, now in remission, who cannot safely attend school because of the number of unvaccinated children. A child who has undergone multiple complex heart surgeries requiring intensive and risky anesthesia, medications and interventions, but whose parents will not vaccinate him against illnesses that routinely killed even healthy children before the age of vaccines. (Dr. Phoebe Danziger and Dr. Rebekah Diamond, 4/15)

Stat: NIH Program Strives To Turn More Lab Discoveries Into Real-World Treatments
Translating fundamental scientific knowledge into actual treatments for diseases is exceedingly challenging. Research often reveals the molecular and systemic changes that cause or contribute to a disease. Although that can lead to new ideas about how to prevent or treat that condition, only a tiny fraction of these ideas ever make it to being tested in humans. Of the few that do, the necessary clinical trials can take hundreds of millions of dollars and many years to complete, and in that process most will fail to show sufficient safety and effectiveness. It’s also next to impossible to predict which avenues of research will ultimately lead to medical breakthroughs. (Paula J. Bates, Diane Fabel, Clinton T. Rubin, Vadim J. Gurvich and Charles C. Muscoplat, 4/17)

San Jose Mercury News: Fact-Based Sex Ed Helps Keep Teens Safe, Healthy
Cupertino Union School District is in the midst of a furious debate about sexual education that is reverberating through the Peninsula and making national news. As the school board considers adopting new curricula, I would like to remind them of their responsibility to the health and futures of our students. (Stacy Tong, 4/17)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.