KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: GOP House Factions Brokering Health Deal; Will Trump Let Law ‘Explode’?

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

Huffington Post: Some Republicans Think They May Have A Health Care Deal
GOP moderates and conservatives are nearing a deal on health care that in theory could get the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act out of the House and over to the Senate. The changes also might move Republicans even further away from passage ― no one really knows. The deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision ― the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions. (Matt Fuller and Jonathan Cohn, 4/19)

The New York Times: Donald Trump Threatens To Sabotage Obamacare
After Republican leaders in Congress failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act last month, President Trump tweeted that the law would “explode.” Now he seems determined to deliver on that prediction through presidential sabotage. Mr. Trump is threatening to kill a program in the A.C.A. that pays health insurers to offer plans with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses to about seven million lower-income and middle-class people. The president thinks that this will get Democrats to negotiate changes to the 2010 health law. This is cruel and incredibly shortsighted. (4/19)

Axios: Why Trump's Dealmaking Model Doesn't Fit Health Care Policy
President Trump's threat to withhold Affordable Care Act payments to insurers shows how he thinks of health care: Everything is negotiable, like it is in a real estate deal. In this case, it's his bargaining chip to get Democrats to negotiate on an ACA replacement plan. But in reality, it could panic insurers and crash the marketplaces. (Drew Altman, 4/20)

USA Today: Republicans Must Protect Vulnerable Patients
[T]he reality of healthcare remains for many Americans: As a country, we spend an average of $10,000 per person per year on health care, and that growth will continue at a faster rate than our overall economy over the next decade. Health care is an issue that demands immediate attention from our national leaders. Yet as the White House and congressional leaders regroup after the failure of the AHCA, reports indicate that they are currently working on a health care deal with members of the House Freedom Caucus that would severely weaken politically popular and policy savvy protections for America’s most vulnerable patients. (Michael Steele, 4/20)

Bloomberg: Government Shutdown Is Logical But Not Likely
All the elements of a debacle will be in place next week when congressional authorization expires for financing the U.S. government. Lawmakers, on recess now, will have only four days to iron out a deal. Right-wing Republicans see a chance to enact abortion curbs and anti-immigrant measures that opponents won't countenance. Democrats are in no mood to offer concessions. And the administration of President Donald Trump has trouble getting its act together. Sound like a government shutdown in the making? It's very unlikely. (Albert R. Hunt, 4/19)

The Washington Post: The March For Science Could Save Lives
When Ebola began to spread in West Africa in December 2013, it was invisible. A 2-year-old who had been playing near a bat-filled tree in southeastern Guinea died, apparently the first victim, but it took months for health workers to detect and report the spread of a disease with a high mortality. Soon it raged across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, sickening 28,000 people and killing 11,000. Scientists have now tracked the pathways of the virus in once-unimaginable detail, providing important lessons for preventing another outbreak. This is a terrific example of science at work for society, and it shows why this weekend’s March for Science is relevant. (4/19)

Forbes: March For Science, Or Against Republican Politicians?
The April 22 March for Science, focused on Washington, D.C., but accompanied by some 400 complementary events worldwide, promises to be a motley affair. According to one of the young scientist-organizers, it is intended to help inexperienced science advocates develop the skills they need “to make their concerns heard” and to “have an effect on politics,” while maintaining a nonpartisan atmosphere. Nonpartisan atmosphere? They’re about to discover what Dr. Victor Frankenstein felt like when his creation ran amok. It’s clear that the march will be hyper-partisan, an outlet for Trump-haters of every description. (Julie Kelly and Henry I. Miller, 4/20)

Los Angeles Times: The Ignoble History Of The 3-Drug Death Penalty Cocktail
When Ohio announced in 2009 that it planned to abandon the three-drug lethal injection protocol that virtually all jurisdictions had employed for the past three decades, many assumed that most other states would soon follow suit. After all, Ohio’s new protocol, which involved an overdose of a single barbiturate, was touted as being easier to administer and less risky. Eight years later, however, the three-drug protocol is still very much in use, and its current application likely violates the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (Ty Alper, 4/20)

The New York Times: A Focus On Health To Resolve Urban Ills
On a crisp morning in the struggling Bay Area city of Richmond, Calif., Doria Robinson prepares a community vegetable garden for an onslaught of teenagers who will arrive that afternoon. Beyond the farm, a Chevron refinery pumps plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. The farm won’t remove the pollution, but Robinson believes it can make the city’s residents healthier in other ways, specifically by showing them that “their actions have an impact.” (Amy Maxmen, 4/19)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Keep Funding In Place For Dementia Care Specialists
About 115,000 individuals in Wisconsin age 65 and older are living with some form of clinically diagnosable dementia, and by 2040 that population is expected to grow to 240,000. ... Unfortunately, all of the progress we’ve seen as a result of these efforts is at risk, as the 2017-'19 state budget removes funding for dementia care specialists throughout Wisconsin. (Chris Abele and Troy Streckenbach, 4/19)

Los Angeles Times: My Mom's Dementia Has Stripped Her Of All But Her Least-Endearing Personality Trait: Worry
Before dementia, my sweet 90-year-old mama taught elementary school, sang in a Yiddish chorus, told great stories, had lots of friends, entertained often and with ease, and did volunteer work. Her one aggravating quality was the watchful worrier that lurked within, ready to explode into full, undistractable panic at any moment. ... And now that she has forgotten so much and lost so many parts of herself — her charm, her humor, her musicality and her ability to befriend — you’d think it only fair she’d finally be rid of her anxiety. But no. The last reverberation of her personality is the one trait that brought her and those she loved the most unhappiness. Like a cruel joke, she has been whittled down to her core, and her core is worry. (Amy Koss, 4/20)

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