KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: WSJ On Super Tuesday; Zeke Emanuel, NY Times On Electronic Health Records; Iowa High-Risk Pool Concerns

The Wall Street Journal: Republican Split Decision
Mr. Santorum is also scoring on the stump with his warnings about the threat to freedom posed by ObamaCare. Especially if the economy improves, this will be a crucial issue for Republicans in November because it reflects the great American fault line over the role of government. Yet the issue has bedeviled Mr. Romney's because of his refusal to distance himself from RomneyCare in Massachusetts and to say more than his cursory line that he'll "repeal ObamaCare"  (3/8).

Reuters: An Unsung Victory In Healthcare
It's now been a year since the administration released the regulations specifying meaningful use and what it takes to be certified — the nuts and bolts of implementing the law. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. As of December 2011, the use of EHR among office-based physicians has nearly doubled to 34 percent with e-prescribing exceeding 40 percent. ... Going electronic will allow physicians to more closely track patients, especially the chronically ill,  enabling the seamless exchange of data across multiple physicians, hospitals and other providers (Ezekiel Emanuel, 3/6).

The New York Times: Do Electronic Medical Records Save Money? 
We still believe that widespread adoption of electronic medical records will improve care and reduce costs. It is also clear that many office-based physicians will need help in making the transition. No matter how adept doctors become with computerized records, they will need to be pushed to rein in excessive use of tests (3/6).

The New York Times: Pay Only For Drugs That Help You
It's hard not to be outraged by the fact that the United States spends $2.6 trillion per year on health care, far more than any other country, and has no better medical outcomes to show for it. ... it's understandable that, with reports of individuals taking $100,000 cancer drugs only to prolong survival by a few months, the high cost of drugs is one of the first targets. But simply capping or slashing the price of drugs is not the answer. Individuals and insurance companies should be willing to pay — and pay a lot — for drugs when they work (Samuel D. Waksal, 3/6).

Los Angeles Times: Birth Control Agitprop
To be sure, Republicans invited some of this madness upon themselves. But it was President Obama who started this mess by breaking his vow to religious institutions to allow them to keep the same conscience protections that even Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposed healthcare reforms in 1994 recognized as essential (Jonah Goldberg, 3/6).

Des Moines Register: Progress On Risk Pool Still Not Enough
Over the past few months, the Register and state legislators have raised concerns about Iowa's 18-month old high-risk pool, which is funded with $35 million federal dollars. ... Some lawmakers are pushing for the creation of an insurance exchange, a permanent cornerstone of the [2010 federal health] law to insure thousands of Iowans beginning in 2014. How can Iowa be trusted to do that when there are so many concerns about how the state has operated a temporary high risk pool? (3/6).

Des Moines Register: Treat Care Workers As Professionals
"Direct care workers" is the broad term for the people who provide paid care in private homes, nursing homes and assisted living centers. It is estimated there are more than 70,000 of these workers in Iowa. ... There is no central database of them to check backgrounds or log complaints. ... That leaves Iowans in the dark about the experience and backgrounds of the people they entrust with their lives (3/6).

Newsday: Home Care Workers Deserve Fair Wages
Personal care aides are skilled professionals and not baby-sitters. They perform physically demanding jobs that also require knowing how to be personable but not domineering, caring but able to foster independence, communicating well, and performing intimate tasks while being sensitive to clients' moods. … These workers are the backbone of the home care system, yet they are undervalued and do not get the respect that they deserve (S.E. Watts, 3/6).

The Dallas Morning News: The Good Ol' Days For the Disabled Weren't
A trio of seemingly unrelated events last week highlights the complexity and opportunity for abuse of the Texas support system for people with disabilities …. That brings us back to Medicaid. What is needed is a redesigned support model, involving families, the faith-based community, commercial enterprise and, yes, the government, truly geared to the needs of people in the 21st century (Clay Boatright, 3/6).  

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