Viewpoints: The Tax Bill As The GOP’s Obamacare; What About This Massive Merger?
A selection of opinions on health care from news outlets around the country.
Los Angeles Times:
Will Tax Reform Be The GOP's Obamacare?
For years, Republicans mocked Rep. Nancy Pelosi — and other Democrats — for dismissing the need to read the text of the Affordable Care Act before passing it. This time around, Republicans have insisted that we must pass tax reform to know what’s in it, and Democrats have denounced the sausage-making. The more important similarity lies in the fact that both parties pursued long-term ideological goals in the face of public opposition. President Obama gave dozens of speeches in favor of the Affordable Care Act and yet it was never popular with voters before passage or after — at least not until Donald Trump was elected, which just shows you how policy preferences take a backseat to partisanship. (Jonah Goldberg, 12/12)
The Washington Post:
Susan Collins Is Wrong About The Tax Bill And Obamacare
Of all the votes for the Senate GOP tax bill, those of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were perhaps the most puzzling. These lawmakers killed an Obamacare repeal bill last summer because it was hastily drafted and poorly designed. Yet they each just endorsed a tax bill that contains a hastily drafted and poorly designed repeal of a key piece of Obamacare, the law’s “individual mandate” requiring all Americans to carry health-care coverage. (12/11)
Los Angeles Times:
CVS And Aetna Say Their Massive Merger Is Needed To Keep Prices Down. That Remains To Be Seen
American consumers aren’t the only ones struggling with higher healthcare costs. CVS Health’s proposed $69-billion purchase of health insurer Aetna is driven in part by the companies’ efforts to get control over more of the costs they face, and to make their operations more efficient. The question for regulators, though, is whether the combination results in a company that uses its clout to help consumers or squeeze more dollars out of them. (12/11)
Hospital Consolidation Is No Panacea
In the face of increasing consolidation among insurers, hospitals are themselves linking up at ever-greater rates. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that we may see one of the biggest hospital deals yet: a possible merger of non-profit giants Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, which would create the largest hospital group in the U.S. But while consolidation seems like a rational response to the issues facing hospitals, it isn't a surefire solution. (Max Nisen, 12/11)
One Year Later — Why 21st Century Cures Still Matters
One year ago this week, President Obama signed into law one of the most consequential bills passed by the 114th Congress: the landmark, bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. ... When FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and NIH Director Francis Collins testified before the Subcommittee on Health earlier this month on the implementation of this law, they told us that Cures is already having a monumental impact at these vital government agencies. We are following through to ensure that in spite of proposed budget cuts, the programs supported through our bill, with widespread support in both chambers of Congress, can continue to do their vital work. (Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), 12/12)
Your Smartphone As Medicine: Digital Therapy Is Here To Stay
The FDA recently approved the first prescription digital therapy, Pear’s Reset app and program, which is focused on substance abuse. Others are likely to follow. That means your next trip to the doctor could include a prescription for a mobile app in addition to, or instead of, medicine. Digital therapy represents a powerful yet provocative new idea in health care. Software brings a precision to therapy and with it an ability to personalize treatment. This gives digital therapy a big role to play as we transition to value-based care. (Stephanie Tilenius, 12/11)
The Kansas City Star:
Missouri Veterans Finally Get Needed Attention From Gov. Eric Greitens. What Took So Long?
Finally, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has taken long overdue steps to improve treatment for 1,300 military veterans in seven state-run skilled nursing care facilities. On Monday, Greitens called for the firing of Rolando Carter, the administrator of the St. Louis Veterans Home, where allegations of mistreatment of veterans surfaced last spring. Greitens also said he had found replacements for five members of the Missouri Veterans Commission whose terms have expired. He said he wants to replace Larry Kay, the commission’s executive director. (12/11)
Telemedicine: Answering The Call Of Those Who Need It Most
Many veterans aren't receiving the health care they desperately need. Among them was Iraq War veteran Curtis Gearhart, who committed suicide last year. Gearhart, who had suffered from PTSD and recurring headaches from a tumor, sought out care but was told by the Veterans Affairs (VA) office that it would be five to six weeks before they could see him for medical care. (Raymond March, 12/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Fixing America's Food Deserts Alone Won't Fix Our Terrible Diets
You are what you eat. It's an expression with roots in the early 1800s that has come to mean if you consume what's good for you, you will be healthy, and if you don't, well, watch out. But our latest research on what influences consumers to make unhealthy food choices has compelled us to turn that axiom on its head: You eat what you are. (Christine A. Vaughan and Tamara Dubowitz, 12/11)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Make Critical Anti-Cancer Treatments Accessible, Affordable
You’d probably be surprised to hear someone living with cancer say they consider themselves lucky. But, that is how I feel. For one, just a few years ago, that statement, “living with cancer” wasn’t something you heard very often. But, it’s more than just luck that is keeping me and thousands of other patients’ cancer at bay; it’s science. It’s access to breakthrough medications that have changed the ways we each treat our individual diseases. I’m also lucky that I’ve had affordable access to these life-saving medications, but that’s not the case for everyone. (Karen Coulson, 12/9)
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Women's Health Matters All Year Long
At the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, we champion women's health and access to medical care all year long. We think it is important to continue the conversation around women's health issues beyond October--and to encourage and empower all women to prioritize their own health care needs. (Sharon Verhotz, 12/10)