Viewpoints: Keep Health Costs Down; Political Riders May Heat Up Budget Battle
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
The New York Times:
Great News! We’re Not Doomed To Soaring Health Care Costs
It really matters who the next president is. But there are other things that matter just as much to the nation’s future prosperity. One of them is: What is happening to health care costs? If health care costs start to rise again the way they did before, then health care spending will swallow the economy and bankrupt the federal government. If they are contained, then suddenly there’s a lot more money for everything else, like schools, antipoverty efforts and wages. The good news is that recently health care inflation has been at historic lows. (David Brooks, 11/6)
The Washington Post:
The Budget Battle Isn’t Over. It’s Just Beginning.
If you think the budget fight is over, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s just heating up. See, for the most part, appropriations bills have language that looks like this: “For carrying out titles I and II of the Imaginary Piece of Legislation Act, $10,000,000 shall be available.” But lately legislators have been littering appropriations bills with language that looks more like this: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement [law/rule/regulation we hate].” In other words, a backdoor repeal. If you can’t beat ’em, defund ’em. Can’t successfully repeal Obamacare, despite more than 50 votes to do so? No worries. Just craft a health-care appropriations bill that explicitly prevents any funds from being “used to implement, administer, enforce, or further any provision” of the Affordable Care Act. (Catherine Rampell, 11/5)
A Republican Can Kill Obamacare. Will He?
Kentucky just volunteered to be a national political experiment, and it can't help but be an edifying one for the whole country. Ever since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have worked to sabotage the law and have done their best Yosemite Sam imitations to show the folks back home how furious they are at that varmint Barack Obama who signed it. Democrats have operated on the theory that Sam's six-shooter fires only blanks. If offered a genuine opportunity to repeal health insurance coverage for millions of Americans, would Republicans go through with it? The election of Matt Bevin as governor of Kentucky ought to settle the question. (Francis Wilkinson, 11/5)
Five Thirty Eight Politics:
Thousands Could Become Uninsured If Kentucky Freezes Medicaid
Throughout his campaign for Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, a Republican who won the election Tuesday, railed hard against the Affordable Care Act, promising to repeal the state’s expansion of Medicaid under the law. He has recently pulled back on that vow, saying he will instead freeze the program and prevent new enrollment. He may not be able to implement such a freeze — it would require a waiver from federal authorities, who will probably block it — but if he does get his way, a freeze is likely to eliminate health coverage for thousands of low-income people. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 11/5)
The Fiscal Times:
Collapsing Obamacare Co-Ops Signal Big Trouble To Come
A key piece of the Obama administration’s plan to control the health insurance market is in a state of collapse. With it will go the philosophical underpinning of big government solutions to private-sector problems--and that will pose a core question for voters in the upcoming national elections. (Edward Morrissey, 11/5)
The San Antonio Express-News:
Preordained Judgment On Medicaid Defunding?
The federal government has warned Texas that it cannot block Medicaid participants from “qualified providers of their choice” or because of the provider’s “scope of practice.” In doing so, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has essentially put the state on notice that it is fooling no one on the reasons it is trying to oust Planned Parenthood from the program. (11/5)
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Palin's In The Past As Medicare Moves Beyond 'Death Panels'
Thankfully, the nation has moved on from the reckless “death panel” rhetoric that could have derailed a compassionate new policy that would help millions of patients do end-of-life planning before a medical crisis strikes. On Oct. 30, the federal agency overseeing Medicare finalized a policy that will pay medical providers to advise patients on advance-care planning. ... Regrettably, this sensible initiative is years in the making. In 2009, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made death panels a national buzzword, wielding it so effectively that officials eventually backed off including payments in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. (11/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
How About Fraud Alerts For Health-Care Charges?
Each year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays more than $853 billion in health-care claims, amounting to almost 25% of the federal budget. But an estimated 10% of the claims paid are fraudulent. This year alone, the federal government will pay about $85 billion in fraudulent claims. That is more than the combined earnings of Exxon, Wells Fargo and Microsoft. Most people would be surprised to hear that government health-care programs are “trust-based” systems that rely on the good faith of medical providers to bill only for legitimate services. The government does little to assess the legitimacy of a claim before paying it.(Hank B. Walther, 11/5)
Rethinking Methadone As A Preferred Treatment For Pain
More than 16,000 Americans die each year from prescription opioid overdoses, with a disproportionate number of these deaths attributed to methadone. Now, the federal government is calling on states to consider removing methadone from the list of preferred drugs used as pain relievers for Medicaid patients. This proposal is part of a larger White House initiative to stop the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. (Cynthia Reilly, 11/5)
The Washington Post:
How Asian American Women Became The Target Of Anti-Abortion Activism
Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old Indian-American woman, is sitting in an Indiana prison serving a 20-year sentence for fetal homicide. Last spring, she became the first woman in the country to be imprisoned on that charge for allegedly ending her own pregnancy .... In 2011, Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant, attempted suicide and lost her pregnancy in the process. She also was charged under Indiana’s feticide law, but pled guilty to a lesser charge. ... Across the country, Asian American women’s reproductive rights are being challenged and their family-planning decisions are being policed based on racial stereotypes held by anti-choice activists and officials. (Miriam Yeung, 11/4)
The New York Times:
The Push For Legal Marijuana Spreads
Support for making marijuana legal is increasing around the world, and that is a good thing. Earlier this week, the Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing the drug by giving four plaintiffs the right to grow cannabis for personal use. (11/5)