KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Shifting Health Reform To States; Hypocrites On The Individual Mandate

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

Columbus Dispatch: Blue States In Better Shape For Health Coverage 
Romneycare is the nickname for the statewide system of universal health coverage signed into law by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, 10 years ago. Recall Romney's response when Republican rivals in the 2012 presidential race hit him for creating the state-run health plan that became the model for Obamacare. Romney pointed out that it worked quite well in Massachusetts and said he'd leave it to other states — not the federal government — to create their own programs, if they wanted. We are now entering 2017 with the Obamacare vision about to be killed or eviscerated nationally but, as we see, not necessarily locally. States with the will and the money can enjoy universal health coverage. (Froma Harrop, 12/22)

Forbes: The Individual Mandate: Even Hypocrites Are Sometimes Right
It was the Obama administration and supporters of the ACA who essentially gutted the individual mandate. Back in 2010, ACA proponents, then in sales mode rather than governance mode, prioritized voter non-provocation over market stability and refused to implement the meaningful mandate they now so want to perpetuate. What we see now — rising premiums, higher cost sharing, narrower networks — is the consequence of that choice, one that some people (like me) predicted and that many of these same heralds of doom denied. If you want to see what the ACA looks like without an effective individual mandate, you don’t have to project forward to the Republican repeal plans, all you have to do is have read the news for the past few years — and then make it worse. (Seth Chandler, 12/21)

Detroit News: Don’t Settle For Partial Obamacare Repeal
If president-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress have a mandate to do anything, it is to repeal Obamacare. The law isn’t working, they campaigned on abolishing it, and repeal would be a huge step toward providing more secure access to care for the sick. Obamacare has been a misadventure from the start. (Michael F. Cannon, 12/20)

Los Angeles Times: California’s Coming $20 Billion Healthcare Emergency
California is facing a $20 billion healthcare emergency. That’s how much the state stands to lose in annual federal spending if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. Putting this in perspective, $20 billion represents nearly 18% of all state general fund spending, projected at $113 billion this year. That amount is also roughly what the state already pays from its general fund for Medi-Cal costs. Even a nation-state like California cannot absorb an 18% budget shortfall without severely damaging public health and its economy. (Tom McMorrow, 12/21)

Stat: Congress Needs To Turn Its Attention To Medical Device Safety
With the landmark 21st Century Cures Act now signed into law, Congress needs to turn its attention to another pressing health issue: the safety — or lack thereof — of medical devices. ... For all the good that medical devices do, they can also cause harm. I know this because my health was almost irreparably harmed by the mercury-based dental amalgam used over my lifetime to fill cavities — it turns out that genetic susceptibility is a factor. I have friends, relatives, and colleagues who have endured cancers and autoimmune diseases, allergies, rashes, pain, memory loss, and incredible emotional strain from problems caused by various medical devices. (Laura Henze Russell, 12/21)

Health Affairs: Why Now? Concerns About End-Of-Life Health Care Policy
Each historical wave of interest in end-of-life care has attributed much of the high and undesired health care costs associated with that care to a culture that denies the inevitability of death. Perhaps this is why, in spite of the ebb and flow as well as the intensity of these discussions since the beginning of the hospice movement in the late 1970s, the medical arms race has continued apace with persistent growth in the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, increases in the numbers of dying patients using post-acute care, and increases in the proportions of the “oldest old” receiving open heart surgery or pnuemonectomy. At the same time, the proportion of Medicare beneficiary decedents receiving the Medicare hospice benefit has grown. This suggests a tendency for patients to demand and for providers to comply by offering more and more services of all sorts. (Vincent Mor, 12/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Helping Our Heroes Heal
In this season, we should remember that we are called to love our neighbor as we would like to be loved, and that these gifts can come in many forms. Among them is the healing power found in medical advances that for America’s veterans have provided miracles in dealing with war’s visible wounds. However, success in dealing with invisible ones, like post-traumatic stress (PTS), can be more difficult. ... Julia and Ken Falke faced this challenge. Ken was a Navy bomb-disposal expert who was seriously injured in a 1989 exercise. During his recovery, he learned not to let adversity diminish him, but to draw on the experience to grow as a person. ... Moved to help fellow veterans, the Falkes donated land and raised funds and, in September 2013, opened the nonprofit Boulder Crest Retreat in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. (Karl Rove, 12/21)

Sacramento Bee: California’s Renewable Energy Standards Depend On The Leadership Of Vulnerable Communities
Through SB 350’s Golden State Standards, California established some of the most ambitious renewable-energy and energy-efficiency standards in the world. The law set goals for increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency 50 percent by 2030. Still, renewable energy is often inaccessible to low-income families and communities of color – the same communities that are overburdened by pollution from power plants, refineries and industrial transportation corridors. (Miya Yoshitani, 12/21)

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