Viewpoints: Medicaid Debate In GOP Presidential Race; Fight Over Dietary Guidelines
A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.
How Divided Is The GOP Field On Medicaid?
Of the two landmark health-policy achievements of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, Medicaid has always been more vulnerable than Medicare to Republican attacks. ... That's especially true in the 2016 Republican presidential race. (John Harwood, 10/8)
The Wall Street Journal:
Republicans On The Brink
Republicans six months ago were on the brink of winning the White House back from an unpopular president and the uninspiring Hillary Clinton, while holding both houses of Congress. In control, the Republicans could legislate based on their beliefs—about ObamaCare, the tax code, spending, rampaging bureaucracies, even the federal subsidy for Planned Parenthood. That’s what winning looks like in American politics—or used to. But we have been beamed up into new political times. Ironically, the new era of American politics looks a lot like ancient Rome—bloodlettings, betrayals and mass spectacle. (Daniel Henninger, 10/7)
The Huffington Post:
Congress Passed A Bill To Change Obamacare. What Happened Next Will Amaze You.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law Wednesday, which is pretty boring in and of itself. The legislation is kind of boring, too. But what made the moment significant is it's the first time in four years that Congress has sent the president a bill expressly intended to make Obamacare work better, not ruin it. (Young, 10/7)
Los Angeles Times:
The Government's New Dietary Guidelines Ignite A Huge Food Industry Backlash
The 2015 [dietary] guidelines, which are currently in preparation by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for release by the end of the year, have triggered an especially ferocious backlash. The issue has been the agencies' intention to include advice on "sustainability"--that is, the environmental impact of what we grow to eat. ... But on Tuesday, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that sustainability wouldn't be part of the guidelines after all. ... Responded nutrition expert Marion Nestle: "This is about politics, not science." She might have added that it's about big business, too. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/7)
The Money Behind The Fight Over Healthy Eating
When Nina Teicholz called out the authors of the federal dietary recommendations for shoddy science and conflicts of interest in a prominent medical journal late last month, she left out some key details about herself. ... Her most recent book is a take-down of the nutrition establishment called, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” which advocates the health benefits of a high-fat diet – considered heresy in many quarters. ... She’s also an organizer of a fledgling group that is engaged in a vigorous advocacy campaign to reshape how the U.S. government determines what makes a healthy diet. That effort is being bankrolled by billionaire Houston philanthropists, John and Laura Arnold. (Chase Purdy and Helena Bottemiller Evich, 10/7)
The Washington Post:
Obamacare Mandated Better Mental Health-Care Coverage. It Hasn’t Happened.
The Affordable Care Act has boosted the number of Americans with health insurance coverage but has not resolved the disparate way in which many insurers treat the costs of mental and physical health care, according to an April report released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The report found that federal changes (part of the Affordable Care Act) mandating so-called parity between mental and physical health-care benefits do not, in practice, exist for the vast majority of Americans who are insured. (Janell Ross, 10/7)
The Kafka Codes For Medical Care
Not to complain, but the world we doctors inhabit is looking more and more like it was designed by Franz Kafka. The road to successful treatments and cures is cluttered with expanding red tape: courses to take, certifications to achieve, endless electronic record keeping that takes the place of patient contact, and now, a chokehold list of insurance billing codes that has been expanded from less than 15,000 disease/health issue entries to 68,000. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, is a cumbersome mess that is supposedly designed for flexibility and precision. But with more than 100 choices for diabetes alone, (affects the retina versus the kidneys versus the heart, versus the nervous system, glucose controlled, uncontrolled, etc.), I must spend more time than ever in front of a computer screen, trying to decide what accurately describes my patient. If I don’t get it exactly right, I might not be paid. (Marc Siegel, 10/7)
The New York Times:
What Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Really Mean
So “defunding” Planned Parenthood would primarily mean telling low income people that their Medicaid coverage is of no use for the health care provided by Planned Parenthood. That would be cruel and foolish: Every dollar spent on Medicaid family planning services saves $5.60 in publicly-subsidized medical care and benefits for pregnant women, according to a 2012 study by the Brookings Institution. It would also be unconstitutional, according to a recent article by David S. Cohen, a law professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University. (Teresa Tritch, 10/7)
Opposing Medicaid Without Good Reason
Republican state lawmakers' refusal to accept billions in Virginians' federal taxes to subsidize insurance for some 400,000 uninsured people has repeatedly been exposed as the partisan political ploy that it is. The expansion of Virginia's managed-care Medicaid program, the most efficient of two divisions of Medicaid in Virginia, is a prime objective of Democratic President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. ... The effects of that fiscally irresponsible position extend far beyond the health care of lower-income, uninsured Virginians. (10/7)
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
U Owes Mistreated Psychiatric Subjects An Apology
Thanks to a former Fairview Hospital patient with the courage to speak out about his mistreatment, the University of Minnesota is finally ending a controversial research practice. As of last month, the university will no longer test experimental drugs on mentally ill patients who have been involuntarily confined to a locked psychiatric unit under a 72-hour hold. Yet instead of thanking the patient who spoke out, or apologizing for recruiting him under coercive conditions, the university has done its best to discredit him. (Carl Elliott, 10/7)