KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Health Issues In 2016; Ky. Governor’s ‘Good Sense’ On Medicaid Pause

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

Los Angeles Times: A Look At Healthcare Changes In 2015 And Beyond
Healthcare — a sector that accounts for one-sixth of the U.S. economy, contributes an almost permanent point of tensions between economics and politics, and remains a concern for millions of families — is an enduring topic of discussion in America. That was true in 2015 and will continue to be so in 2016. (Michael Hiltzik, 12/25)

USA Today: The Affordable Care Act's Frightening Future
Using the latest health-insurance-exchange enrollment data and a model funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I recently estimated how the Affordable Care Act will affect the health insurance market over the next decade. In brief: Costs will continue to rise and coverage will continue to underwhelm. In fact, it will likely go into reverse, leaving millions more Americans uninsured than today. (Stephen T. Parente, 12/29)

The Washington Post: Mr. Bevin’s Good Sense
Matt Bevin won the Kentucky governor’s race last year, 400,000 low-income people seemed doomed to lose their health coverage. An ardent Obamacare opponent, Mr. Bevin swore during his campaign to roll back the state’s Medicaid expansion. The expansion had extended coverage to nearly half a million Kentuckians, halving the state’s uninsured rate, under a provision of President Obama’s signature health-care law. This reversal would have added Kentucky to the list of 20 states irrationally refusing federal Medicaid money to cover needy people, and it would have put pressure on Republican leaders in other states to withdraw coverage, too. Thankfully, common sense prevailed. The governor announced Wednesday that he would seek to reform Kentucky’s Medicaid program rather than amputate it. (1/3)

Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star: Ricketts Cool To Medicaid-Funded Plan
Gov. Pete Ricketts remains a tough sell on expansion of health care insurance to the currently uninsured working poor by using available federal Medicaid dollars. Sens. John McCollister, Kathy Campbell and Heath Mello have been working on a proposal modeled after an Arkansas plan that would use the additional Medicaid dollars available to Nebraska under the Affordable Care Act to purchase private health care insurance for eligible recipients rather than expand the traditional Medicaid program. ... Even though the newest Nebraska plan would utilize the private market and not expand the traditional Medicaid program, Ricketts said he is "very skeptical that this is a proposal I would be able to support." It's "a model that hasn't worked," the governor suggested during an interview last week. (Don Walton, 1/3)

Politico: Death Panels: An Obituary
Remember death panels? The saga began in 2009, when a provision in President Barack Obama’s new health care bill proposed that doctors be paid for time spent having conversations with patients planning for end-of-life care. Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York, was the first to magically transform these voluntary talks into mandatory sessions that would tell seniors “how to end their life sooner.” But it was Sarah Palin, with her gift for disinformation, who renamed these talks death panels. ... The proposal was deleted from the plan and then later from regulations, and anything to do with “end of life” became the third rail of health care policy. ... Fast forward to this season’s greeting. In July, Medicare put forward nearly the same proposals for public comment. They sailed through with barely a ripple of protest. (Ellen Goodman, 12/30)

The Washington Post: College Students Should Aim Their Rage At Older Americans, Not Administrators
One of the largest ongoing sources of spending involves huge age-specific transfers: Our politicians are paying off older, higher-voter-turnout Americans in the form of generous benefits that those older people have not paid for and never will. Which means the tab will need to be picked up by someone else — i.e., someone younger. Older people themselves do not seem to recognize whose hard-earned cash is funding their hip replacements and motorized scooters, and they often insist that they paid for their benefits fair and square. ... “Invincible” youngsters are subsidizing health care for their not-yet-Medicare- eligible elders on the individual insurance market as well. And elsewhere on government balance sheets, spending on the old is crowding out spending on the young. (Catherine Rampell, 12/24)

The Wall Street Journal: How High Drug Prices Weigh On The Sickest Americans
The more drugs people take and the sicker they are, the more likely they are to experience problems paying for prescription medicines–or to forgo them altogether because of cost. It may not be surprising that people who use more drugs have the greatest problems paying for them. It’s also never a good thing when people with the greatest need struggle the most to pay for health care. (Drew Altman, 12/28)

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