KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: Problems Getting New Muscular Dystrophy Drug; Rep. Price’s Real Concerns

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

The Wall Street Journal: The FDA Empire Strikes Back
This year produced no shortage of surprises, and a rare happy one was Food and Drug Administration approval of a muscular dystrophy drug that had been singled out for destruction by agency staffers. But the bureaucracy is now mounting a misinformation campaign, and as a result insurers are denying coverage to some patients. (12/22)

The Washington Post: On Health Care, Republicans Are About To Give Americans More ‘Skin In The Game.’ And They’re Going To Hate It.
For the past eight years, Republicans have had the luxury of opposition, which enables you to blame anything and everything on your opponents without being burdened by the responsibility of coming up with your own solutions or being held accountable when things don’t go well. Now, of course, all that is going to change. And nowhere will their new situation be more vividly apparent than in health care, where they are determined to dismantle the Affordable Care Act yet can’t seem to agree on what they’ll replace it with. However it plays out, the country will get an extremely edifying instruction in conservative values as they relate to health care. And they’re probably not going to like what they see. (Paul Waldman, 12/22)

The New England Journal of Medicine: Care For The Vulnerable Vs. Cash For The Powerful — Trump’s Pick For HHS
[Tom Price] emphasizes the importance of making our health care system “more responsive and affordable to meet the needs of America’s patients and those who care for them.” But as compared with his predecessors’ actions, Price’s record demonstrates less concern for the sick, the poor, and the health of the public and much greater concern for the economic well-being of their physician caregivers. (Sherry A. Glied and Richard G. Frank, 12/21)

WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.): Cooper Needs To Expand Medicaid So More In N.C. Have Health Care
In the last six years more than 75 rural hospitals have closed across the nation, half of them in the South and three, including Belhaven, in North Carolina. Because many people in Belhaven and the rural communities around it are poor (in Belhaven 1 in 3 residents live below the poverty line) they don’t have insurance – which puts the financial viability of any hospital at risk. If North Carolina had opted to participate in a federally-funded Medicaid program to make health insurance available to the poor, the financial outlook for rural hospitals, like Belhaven, would have improved. (12/23)

The Arizona Republic: An Obamacare Bailout Arizona Can't Afford
Arizona taxpayers, beware. President Obama’s administration is quietly implementing one last massive taxpayer-funded bailout for special interests. Not only that, this bailout would prop up the Affordable Care Act only months before the law will likely be repealed. So which special interests are getting your money? Health-insurance companies. (Nathan Nascimento, 12/22)

Health Affairs: What’s Confusing Us About Mental Health Parity
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) has been law since 2008. MHPAEA provided that health plans could not limit mental health or substance use disorder benefits in a way that was more restrictive than how most medical/surgical benefits were limited. This sounds simple enough, but in this year alone there has been a White House task force, voluminous Department of Labor guidance, a SAMHSA best practices manual, and an Energy & Commerce Committee hearing to find out why most people still can’t access care. We still don’t have all the answers. (Nathaniel Counts, Timothy Clement, Amanda Mauri, Paul Gionfriddo, and Garry Carneal, 12/22)

Des Moines Register: Don't Pay Managed Care Firms A Penny More
Iowa’s Medicaid program was operated by the state for decades. With modest administrative costs and among the lowest per-patient spending in the country, it worked well. Then along came Gov. Terry Branstad and his unpopular idea of handing over the government health insurance program to three for-profit insurers. While providing no reliable evidence, he insisted privatization would save the state money and improve the health of more than 600,000 Iowans who rely on Medicaid. ... Translation: Private companies receiving billions of public dollars to operate a public program refuse to be accountable to the public. They want to do their business with the state behind closed doors. (12/22)

Los Angeles Times: Anti-Vaping Efforts Seem To Be Working
A national study has some good news for parents this month, just in time for Christmas: Teenagers are just not as into vaping this year as they used to be. According to the 42nd annual Monitoring the Future study, a lower percentage of teens reported using electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery devices than the previous year. This is significant because it is the first time researchers have found a decrease in teen vaping. (12/22)

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