Viewpoints: House Plans Would Hurt Health Law; Who Should Decide On Trans-Fat: Consumers Or FDA?
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The New York Times:
Destructive Health Care Proposals
Frustrated by their inability to repeal the Affordable Care Act and unable to produce a conservative alternative to replace it, House Republicans are moving two bills to repeal small but important provisions of the law — a tax on medical device manufacturers and an independent board to clamp down on out-of-control Medicare spending. The two bills would harm the federal budget and do nothing to help consumers, but were approved by the House Ways and Means Committee and are expected to pass the House on Thursday. (6/18)
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire:
How Would Hillary Clinton Pay For Her Obamacare ‘Fix’?
In a recent interview with the Des Moines Register, Hillary Clinton outlined several elements of Obamacare that she said she would seek to change as president. Her proposals illustrate how the fiscal impact of the law could increase significantly from what was expected when the legislation passed in March 2010. Among the things Mrs. Clinton cited was “how to fix the family glitch.” In short, if an individual qualifies for “affordable” health insurance through an employer, that person’s family will not qualify for federal insurance subsidies–even if the employer does not offer family coverage or if family coverage is unaffordable for the household. Supporters of the health-care law may call this a “glitch,” but it is far from an unintended consequence. This provision has worked exactly how Congress wrote it into the Affordable Care Act. (Chris Jacobs, 6/17)
The Washington Post's The Fix:
No, Doctors Don’t Hate Obamacare
If you have been to the doctor in the last couple years, you just might have run across that doctor who hates Obamacare -- so much that he or she tells you about it, unprompted. Donald Trump has, and he mentioned it during his rambling announcement speech on Tuesday. ... We don't doubt that Mr. Trump has a friend who is a doctor who said this. But this is an anecdote. And anecdotes are not quantitative -- at all. And sure enough, for just about every doctor who feels the way Trump's friend does, there is another doctor who is pleased with the new health-care law. According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, opinions among doctors when it comes to the Affordable Care Act look a lot like ... well ... opinions among all Americans. If your doctor is a Republican, chances are good (87 percent) that he or she doesn't like it. If your doctor is a Democrat, there's an equal chance (87 percent) he or she will think it's a good thing. (Aaron Blake, 6/18)
The Portland Press Herald:
Affordable Care Act Fuels Declining Abortion Rates
The last five years have been marked by a continuous, state-by-state assault on abortion rights. In that time, abortion rates have plummeted. Tying those facts together may be beneficial to backers of the pernicious, often constitutionally questionable laws meant to limit access to abortion to the point of a de facto ban. But it doesn’t hold up to serious scrutiny. (6/18)
Does Linking Payment To Patient Satisfaction Harm Or Help?
I don’t want my epitaph to be “The patient was satisfied with her hospital experience but died from poor care.” This came to my mind last fall, during a graduate nursing course I teach in health policy, when we were studying value-based health care. A student who worked in a financially stressed hospital serving a poor community said the administration encouraged employees to ensure that patients would give high marks on a patient satisfaction survey. After all, those scores were linked to enhanced Medicare payments. The student said physicians felt compelled to prescribe opioids for “drug-seeking” patients and order unnecessary tests or antibiotics, for example, at patients’ requests. Nurses and other personnel were being trained in “customer service,” while nurse–patient staffing ratios had gotten worse. (Diana Mason, 6/17)
The Washington Post:
Getting Rid Of Trans Fats Is A Good Move, But The Nutrition Battle Isn’t Over
The Food and Drug Administration moved formally to eliminate artificial trans fat from Americans’ food on Tuesday, revoking the ingredient’s “generally recognized as safe” status. From here on, neither foodmakers nor their government regulators may assume that the artery-clogging oils are relatively benign, and manufacturers will have three years to cull them completely from the U.S. food supply. ... This isn’t food fascism. It’s a long overdue, science-informed recognition that trans fats are both dangerous and unnecessary, and it’s about the least the government can do to encourage healthier eating. (6/17)
Trans Fat Facts Can Beat Nanny State Bans: Our View
Mention trans fat, and while many people might not know exactly what it is, odds are they know it's bad for them. That knowledge, along with labeling requirements and market forces, cut trans fat consumption by nearly 80% since 2003. Quite a public health coup. ... the government shouldn't forget how successful it has been in cutting consumption without a ban, by giving the public the facts and letting the free market do the rest. (6/17)
Labeling Doesn't Go Far Enough: Opposing View
Getting artificial trans fat — the kind of fat that comes from industrially produced partially hydrogenated oils — out of the food supply has been a landmark public health victory that is saving tens of thousands of lives per year. This week's action by the Food and Drug Administration will save thousands more. (Michael Jacobson, 6/17)
The Washington Post:
McDonald’s, The ‘Progressive Burger Company’
In January, McDonald’s, leaning against the winds of fashion, said kale would never replace lettuce on its burgers. In May, however, it said it will test kale in a breakfast meal (breakfast is about 25 percent of McDonald’s sales). Kale might or might not cause construction workers to turn at 6 a.m. into McDonald’s drive-through lines, where approximately two-thirds of McDonald’s customers place their orders. McDonald’s also says its milk will soon be without artificial growth hormones, and chicken (McDonald’s sells more of it than of beef) will be free of human antibiotics. All these might be good business decisions and as socially responsible as can be. They certainly pertain to McDonald’s new mantra about being a “modern, progressive burger company,” whatever that means. (George F. Will, 6/17)
Mystery Meat Knows No Borders
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to repeal a law requiring pork, chicken and beef from Canada and Mexico to have so-called country-of-origin labels. The two U.S. neighbors recently won World Trade Organization rulings that the labeling was a form of discrimination. These labels, enacted as part of farm bills in 2002 and 2008, were initially viewed as a way to protect consumers. But history suggests that country-of-origin laws have a long and dubious history as a weapon in the protectionism arsenal. (Stephen Mihm, 6/16)