Viewpoints: GOP Doesn’t Fear Political Backlash On Repeal Vote; Abortion Speech And Violence
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The Washington Post's The Plum Line:
Morning Plum: The GOP Congress Will Finally Repeal Obamacare! But There’s A Catch.
It looks increasingly likely that some time in the next few days or weeks, the GOP Congress may realize a longtime dream of Republicans: Pass something that seriously guts Obamacare. The health law won’t actually be repealed, of course, since President Obama will veto such a measure. But that alone — forcing Obama to veto a repeal bill — is deemed a worthy goal in and of itself. However, there’s a catch. Some Senate Republicans are apparently willing to vote for this measure precisely because Obama will veto it, sparing them the political fallout they might suffer if they actually did succeed in repealing the health law. (Greg Sargent, 12/1)
Senate Republicans Must Figure Medicaid Expansion Beneficiaries Don't Vote
Senate Republican leaders apparently have persuaded wavering GOP senators from Medicaid expansion states to support a fast-track bill that would repeal Medicaid expansion along with most of the rest of the Affordable Care Act. They must be calculating that people who have benefited from the expansion don't vote. The so-called reconciliation bill, which may be voted on Thursday, reportedly would phase out the expansion of coverage over two years to low-income adults with incomes up to 138% of poverty. (Harris Meyer, 12/1)
The Washington Post:
A ‘Tax Extenders’ Bill That Could Make Fiscal Matters Worse
A bipartisan agreement reportedly taking shape on Capitol Hill would make permanent certain provisions — such as the research and development tax credit for business and Obama-era expansions to the earned-income tax credit for the working poor — that deserve to be fixtures of the tax code on their merits .... the bill also may gut two Obamacare revenue sources: excise taxes on medical devices and on high-cost employer-paid health insurance. Both of these measures help fund insurance for lower-income people; the latter, by shifting incentives, tamps down medical costs. It’s especially galling that this budget-busting assault on President Obama’s signature domestic policy enjoys the support of many Democrats. They are responding to home-state device-makers protecting their profits and labor unions protecting their expensive health plans. (12/1)
The New York Times:
Donald Trump’s Appeal
Poll data from the Pew Research Center shows how much Trump depends on the politically restive white working class. His backing from voters with a high school degree or less is twice as high as is it is from those with college degrees; the percentage of men lining up behind him is eight points higher than the percentage of women; voters from households making $40,000 or less are 12 points more likely to cast a Trump ballot than those from households making more than $75,000. Unlike most Republican candidates, Trump rejects cuts in Social Security and Medicare — programs strongly supported by the white working class. And, while he nods in the direction of the anti-abortion movement, he does not attempt to impose a repressive sexual morality (after all, he has been married three times). (Thomas B. Edsall, 12/2)
The New York Times:
The Toll Of Violent Anti-Abortion Speech
Since the videos appeared over the summer, there have been four arsons at or near Planned Parenthood clinics. Abortion providers say threats and harassment have increased as well. But then, disclaiming any connection with violence has a long history in the anti-abortion movement. Black Lives Matter activists are accused by some of promoting the murder of police officers, and every Muslim on earth is seemingly expected to condemn jihadi terrorism on practically a daily basis. Meanwhile, I’m not aware of any prominent abortion opponents who have publicly accepted responsibility for fomenting violence by using language that equates abortion with the Holocaust or murder on an industrial scale. (Katha Pollitt, 12/1)
Los Angeles Times:
Must Planned Parenthood Critics Share Guilt With The Shooter?
The attack on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., that killed a mother of two, an Iraq war veteran and a police officer was a horrific crime and not the first such outrage. But was it also the inevitable result of recent denunciations of Planned Parenthood in Congress and elsewhere — to the point that the organization's critics must share some measure of responsibility for what happened? (12/1)
Los Angeles Times:
Was Robert Lewis Dear Inspired By The Planned Parenthood Videos? So What If He Was?
"No more baby parts.” As of this writing, that statement by Robert Lewis Dear is the only evidence that the “Planned Parenthood shooter” in Colorado Springs, Colo., was motivated by anti-abortion rhetoric. ... But let's assume Dear was inspired by those videos. My sincere question is “So what?” I understand that many abortion rights activists don't want abortion rights to be up for debate, hence the effort to cast any opponents of unlimited abortion as not just wrong, but as anti-woman, anti-health and in some sense in league with someone like Dear: an alleged domestic terrorist. But that's not only ridiculous on the merits, it's not how the 1st Amendment works. (Jonah Goldberg, 12/1)
Los Angeles Times:
Gilead Harmed Patients By Overpricing Its Drugs. But Did It Miscalculate?
Gilead Sciences, the maker of two stratospherically high-priced drugs for hepatitis C patients, says it cares deeply about enabling patient access to the drugs and “enabling healthcare accessible for all Americans.” According to a new report from the Senate Finance Committee, here’s how it showed its concern: Its executives concluded it could make a profit by charging $55,000 per 12-week treatment for Sovaldi, its original breakthrough drug. But the company decided to charge $84,000, which would deliver higher profits from fewer patients. ... The Foster City company refused to offer anything but minimal discounts to big insurers and Medicaid programs, even though they acknowledged that thousands of patients might have to go without the treatments. (Michael Hiltzik, 12/1)
How Big Pharma Could Lose The War On Disease
The planned merger of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer with competitor Allergan, aimed in large part at cutting the combined company's tax bill, illustrates a troubling trend in the industry: Firms are focused more on pursuing near-term profits than on the difficult, longer-term research needed to develop truly groundbreaking new drugs. This is unfortunate, because disease may be making a comeback. (Mark Buchanan, 12/2)
Turning Pfizer Irish: Our View
U.S. drugmakers benefit enormously from policies that force Americans to pay far more for prescription drugs than do people abroad. The companies benefit, to the tune of $12 billion a year, from the fact that Medicare isn't allowed to bargain over drug prices. They benefit from American laws governing securities and intellectual property. They benefit from a highly educated workforce. And they benefit from a highly respected federal system for testing and approving new drugs. But when these same companies are asked to pay their U.S. taxes, they complain bitterly about high rates. Some go so far as to merge with a smaller foreign company so they can "move" their headquarters to a country with a lower corporate tax rate. (12/1)
Pfizer-Allergan: Good For America
Pfizer applies science and its global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. Pfizer’s proposed combination with Allergan creates a global R&D leader and will enable us to pursue cures and treatments for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to cancer and rare genetic disorders. (Ian Read and Brent Saunders, 12/1)
The New York Times:
An Opening In The War Against AIDS
International health agencies continue to lose ground in the struggle against H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Each year the number of people who become infected outpaces the number of people starting treatment for the virus. That is discouraging given that the opportunities to control the spread of the virus have never been better, scientifically and financially. It is imperative to move aggressively to change the trajectory of this epidemic. (12/2)
Fewer Patients Have Been Dying From Hospital Errors Since Obamacare Started
Hospitals have cut down on deadly medical errors, saving around 87,000 lives since 2010, according to a new government report. Pinning down the precise reasons for this change is difficult, to say nothing of predicting whether the decline will continue. Improvement has slowed in just the last year, the report suggests. But many analysts think government initiatives within the Affordable Care Act have played a significant role in the progress so far. In short, Obamacare may literally be saving lives. (Jonathan Cohn, 12/1)
Los Angeles Times:
White Working-Class Longevity Drops Along With White Privilege
For almost a century, there was a comforting American narrative that went like this: Advances in nutrition and medical care would guarantee longer lives for all. Recently published research, however, shows that members of the white working class, ages 45 to 54, are dying at an immoderate rate. In the last four years, the life span gap between poor white men and wealthier ones has widened by up to four years. This was not supposed to happen. Especially not to white people, who in relation to people of color have long had the advantage of higher earnings, better access to healthcare, safer neighborhoods and, of course, freedom from the daily insults and harms inflicted on the darker-skinned. (Barbara Ehrenreich, 12/1)