KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Indictment Vindicates Planned Parenthood; State Lawmakers And The Medicaid Expansion Debate

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

The New York Times: Vindication For Planned Parenthood
One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead. ... Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the State Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors. (1/27)

Bloomberg: How The Planned Parenthood Case Backfired
The indictment of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden is a stark reminder that the criminal law is a dangerous animal: Once it’s set free, there’s no telling who will be its target. Yet Daleiden is extremely unlikely to receive anything but symbolic jail time if convicted of the charge of making and using a false California driver’s license in the course of his undercover attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas. And despite what his supporters might say, the indictment doesn’t pose a threat to First Amendment values or legitimate investigative journalism. (Noah Feldman, 1/26)

Des Moines Register: Planned Parenthood Foes Need To Move On
Last year anti-abortion activists released videotapes they said showed Planned Parenthood illegally profited from fetal tissue obtained by abortions. Though secretly recorded and heavily edited, conservative politicians embraced snippets of the recordings to justify renewed attacks on the health provider. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was among them. When he wanted an investigation into a local Planned Parenthood, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson immediately got to work. (1/26)

Des Moines Register: Get Involved In Medicaid Debate
Iowa is moving quickly to privatize Medicaid. I am deeply concerned for the more than 560,000 Iowans on Medicaid, including 120,000 coping with life-altering disabilities, whose quality of life and future depend upon accessible health care. You can see the numbers: businesses wanting a piece of the $4.2 billion Iowa Medicaid system; four out-of-state companies chosen to decide the future of Medicaid; nearly $500 million in added administrative costs. Well, behind all of these big numbers are real people. And today, tens of thousands of Iowans with disabilities are especially at risk because the current administration decided to outsource Medicaid. I believe we can and must do better. (Chet Culver, 1/26)

Concord Monitor: Medicaid Expansion Flaws Are Glaring
This year, the state Legislature will decide the future of expanding the state’s Medicaid program to able-bodied adults under Obamacare. Medicaid expansion – passed in 2014 by a Legislature more sympathetic to Obamacare and growing government – expires later this year, and some of our elected officials are seeking to make it permanent. In early 2013, when Obamacare proponents pursued adding able-bodied adults to the Medicaid program, they offered three reasons for adding thousands of individuals to a program that is already the largest in state government. All three premises have proven to be false. (Greg Moore, 1/27)

Wichita Eagle: Kansas Failing To Care Properly For Most Vulnerable
For many years, most Kansans have shared a belief that we are obligated to provide a basic level of care for the most vulnerable people in our communities. We have relied on a combination of services from our nonprofits and state and local governments. Some of us believe that our most productive pursuits occur when government partners with faith-based organizations to provide services. (Dennis McKinney, 1/26)

Vox: Donald Trump Endorses An Idea Liberals Love: Letting Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices
Democrats have tried to give Medicare this power since at least 2003, when Medicare Part D, which gives beneficiaries prescription drug benefits, passed. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and President Barack Obama all agree with Trump that Medicare ought to have the authority to push back against drug companies that ask for really high prices. Republicans have opposed such policies, saying that lower prices would leave drugmakers with less money for research — and leave Americans with less innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. But Trump isn't like other Republicans. He talks a lot about how he isn't beholden to special interests because he is financing his own campaign. This isn't fully true — Trump does take outside donations alongside his own contribution — but voters like the rhetoric and the idea that he can't be bought. This Medicare proposal only builds on that narrative. (Sarah Kliff, 1/26)

The Baltimore Sun: The Myth Of More Medicine And Better Health
Maryland is the only state testing an "all payer" model for Medicare insurance payments. This model pays hospitals a fixed amount for each patient, in contrast to standard fee-for-service payments for each test or doctor's visit. A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Maryland's experiment has resulted in a 26 percent drop in infections, surgical errors and other preventable conditions. The model's success is counter-intuitive and throws into question our belief that more medicine means better health. (Morgan, 1/26)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Don't Stifle Incentives Needed To Develop Drugs
Scientists at an International AIDS Society conference recently announced a hopeful discovery: Early treatment reduces the rate of complication and death from HIV/AIDS by more than half compared with delayed treatment. But rather than capitalize on this discovery by expanding access to treatment, lawmakers across the country are moving to cut off the development of new medicines by imposing price controls on lifesaving drugs. (Zaldivar, 1/25)

Modern Healthcare: Patient Empowerment Through Shared Decisions Can Lower Costs
A lot has been written about empowering patients. Unfortunately, effective tools for making that possible still aren't widely available.But that may soon change. Over the past 30 years, there has been a movement to develop educational materials that empowers patients to engage in shared decisionmaking with their physicians. (Merrill Goozner, 1/23)

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