Viewpoints: Insurance Safety Net; Orszag On Shift In Health Plans
The New York Times: Opinionator: Safety Nets For Freelancers
In this country, three subjects that are guaranteed to generate a heated debate are religion, politics and, you guessed it, health insurance. Of the first two, Mark Twain observed that "people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand." When it comes to health insurance, people speak from direct experience ? and pain. The numerous comments to Friday's column about the Freelancers Union ? which brings together freelance workers to increase their power in markets and politics ? reveal that many independent workers feel that the battle for affordable health insurance is one they are losing (David Bornstein, 12/6).
Los Angeles Times: California Stem Cell Agency Needs To Study Itself
For years, Geron Corp. had claimed to be in the vanguard among California companies engaged in stem cell research. So it was something of a stunner when it announced Nov. 14 that it was abandoning the stem cell field completely. … Geron's shares fell 20 percent the next day, but that was probably nothing compared with how far spirits must have fallen at the California stem cell agency, which just a few months earlier had made its highest-profile investment ever by awarding Menlo Park-based Geron a $25-million loan to help fund the first human trial of stem cell-based spinal cord therapy. Since the announcement, the agency has been doing its darndest to reassure everyone that Geron's decampment isn't a huge embarrassment (Michael Hiltzik, 12/7).
Bloomberg: Superbugs Will March Unless Antibiotic Behavior Changes
Doctors have scaled back somewhat on using antibiotics to treat upper-respiratory-tract infections and, in small children, ear infections. Still, we need to find ways to fight overuse and to encourage the development of fresh antibiotics capable of killing bacteria that have become resistant to the old drugs. For starters, the federal government could require, as a condition of Medicare funding, that hospitals, long-term-care facilities, clinics and private medical practices set up programs that monitor and review every antibiotic prescription written (12/6).
Bloomberg: Defined Contributions Define Health Care Future
Over the next decade, we are likely to see a shift in health insurance in the U.S.: So-called defined-contribution plans will gradually take over the market, shifting the residual risk of incurring high health care costs from employers to workers. … Whether this turns out to be a good thing will depend in no small part on whether the defined-contribution model helps to constrain overall health care costs. There's little point (and much potential harm in terms of risk-sharing) in having individuals, rather than businesses, take on the responsibility of paying for health care if there is no change in the total cost (Peter Orszag, 12/6).
Fox News: Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman and Health Care Hypocrisy
What do Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, have in common? Long before President Obama even entered the Oval Office, both men supported an idea they now pretend to spurn — the idea of requiring people to buy health insurance. ... Romney and Gingrich are not alone in their history of supporting the idea of a government requirement that everyone buy health insurance. As governor of Utah in 2007, Jon Huntsman endorsed a health care reform plan from the United Way of Salt Lake City that called for a mandate (Juan Williams, 12/6).