KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Political Peril Of Repeal; Smart Ways To Improve Obamacare

A selection of opinions from around the country.

The Wall Street Journal: As The Number Of Uninsured Falls, Potential Fallout To Repealing The ACA Grows
The initial National Health Interview Survey results published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm what many private surveys have shown: that the proportion of Americans under 65 who lack health insurance has plummeted to record lows since the Affordable Care Act became law. Twenty million fewer Americans were uninsured in the first nine months of 2015 than in 2010. ... Whether or not you like Obamacare, a few things are clear: Repeal of the health-care law would be complicated and politically fraught. (David Blumenthal, 3/7)

The Chicago Sun-Times: Two Smart Ways To Improve Obamacare
Instead of compulsively voting over and over again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which ain’t gonna happen as long as Barack Obama is president, could Congress actually do something to improve the quality of health care in the United States? Yes, it could, and we wish it would. Nobody on the left or right would argue that health care in America could not be less expensive or more effective. (Thomas Frisbie, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal: $lammed by ObamaCare
This year my family joined millions of others whose health-insurance premium has become their biggest annual expense. More than our mortgage. More than our property taxes. More than our state income tax. More than our annual food or energy costs. With this year’s $194-a-month premium increase, I could roughly buy a Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta. Since 1999 our premiums are up 350%. Bad as this is, the story gets worse. (Christopher E. Press, 3/7)

Los Angeles Times: GOP Plans To Repeal Obamacare Won't Bring The Change You're Hoping For
For the third time in eight years, the presidential campaign is doubling as a referendum on the U.S. healthcare system. And once again, the debate will revolve around the rising cost of health insurance and the number of people struggling to obtain or maintain coverage. The obvious difference this time, though, is that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is now fully in effect. Although the 2010 law has helped slow some cost increases, the continuing rise in premiums and prescription drug costs and the uptick in healthcare spending growth show that there's much work left to do. The question for voters this year is whether that work would be easier if the Affordable Care Act were repealed, and the answer is no. (3/7)

Los Angeles Times: Bernie Sanders Jokes About The 'Mental Health' Of Republicans
In 1992 Ross Perot, an independent candidate for president, turned the tables on people who called his ideas crazy by adopting the Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline song “Crazy” as his campaign theme. Suppose Sanders had called the Republican positions “crazy.” Or suggested that Donald Trump suffered from “delusions of grandeur.” Would those expressions also have been offensive? Probably not: They don’t have quite the same clinical connotation as “mental health.” Still, I don’t think Sanders was suggesting that everyone with clinical depression or bipolar disorder is at risk of voting for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. He was making a joke about wrong-thinking — crazy! —Republicans, and it backfired. (Michael McGough, 3/7)

The New York Times: Reducing Drug Waste Could Save Billions Of Dollars
Given how expensive many cancer drugs are, it is alarming that the government, private insurers and patients spend an estimated $3 billion a year on cancer medicines that are thrown out because they are packaged in unnecessarily large quantities. The Food and Drug Administration ought to figure out ways to reduce this costly waste. (3/8)

Forbes: California's Illegal Medicaid Tax
California’s tax is illegal under federal law because the state was holding numerous insurers harmless from the tax that should not have been. The state has recently come up with a revised tax plan that it is submitting for federal approval. (Brian Blase, 3/7)

Louisville Courier Journal: Legislation Needed To Cap Drug Co-Pays
In the beginning, my epilepsy diagnosis felt a bit like a death sentence. I lived in constant fear of having a seizure at any time – driving to work, in the middle of an important meeting, holding an infant, alone at home. The independence I had once taken for granted was gone. Then, I discovered a prescription medicine to help control my epileptic seizures. As soon as I began taking it, I noticed improvement. This medication couldn’t cure me of my disease but did the next best thing: It effectively treated my symptoms ... [Last summer] I learned that my insurance company was now implementing “co-insurance,” which meant my out-of-pocket cost for the prescription had increased – and not just by a little. My $60-per-month medicine now cost me nearly $1,300. (Julie Davis, 3/7)

The News & Observer: UNC Rex Healthcare Is On The Rise
In Raleigh, people still call it Rex Hospital, but it isn’t that anymore. Since entering the UNC health care system in 2000, it’s formally known as UNC Rex Healthcare. And the change is in a lot more than the name. The former community hospital has evolved into a major regional medical center. Next year, it will open a $235 million Heart & Vascular Hospital. (3/7)

Modern Healthcare: Clinicians Must Partner With Gov't, Community Groups To Learn About Patients' Real-Life Challenges
Healthcare providers need to work more closely with governments and community organizations to better address the social determinants of health, according to a report released Monday by the National Academy of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Providers must also more rigorously educate themselves and think critically about the potential root causes of poor health, and ultimately the factors that lead to suboptimal patient outcomes. (Sabriya Rice, 3/7)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Planned Parenthood's Caring Doctors Made A Huge Difference For Me And Many Others
You've stripped Planned Parenthood of a potential $1.3 million for women's health care, because your anti-choice ideology stands in the way of cancer screenings, domestic violence counseling, unwanted-pregnancy prevention, HIV testing, prenatal care, well-baby care and birth control pills for a poor, hardworking kid with nowhere else to go. You speak, governor, in evangelical tones, of being "the prince of light and hope" in this presidential election season. But how many of Ohio's daughters will you leave in the dark? (Melissa Stacho, 3/7)

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