KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Komen’s Retreat; Romney’s Selected Support Of Medicare Cuts; Heritage Refuses Blame For Individual Mandate

The Seattle Times: Komen For The Cure: From Pink To Red-Faced
A group like Komen only has the quality service it provides and goodwill garnered over the years to encourage donations and support. Its trademark pink is not as bold as before. For the moment, it seems drab and faded (2/5).

Boston Globe: A Good Week For Planned Parenthood
This turns out to have been the best week Planned Parenthood has had in years. The bad news that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation was pulling its grants for breast cancer screening was quickly replaced by a flood of donations ... and an outcry so huge that, by Friday, Komen had reversed its decision entirely. And in the meantime, in those three days of fury, Planned Parenthood got precisely the publicity it needs (Joanna Weis, 2/5).

The New York Times: The Politics Of Absolutely Everything
Nobody really knows whether future grants from Komen (for Planned Parenthood) will be forthcoming.  ... A lot of the old Komen donors and supporters probably won’t be coming back. It would be a shame if they just retreated in disillusionment. Let's hope they go off into the wider world of women's health care programs and help spread the wealth. That really would be a happy ending (Gail Collins, 2/3).

MinnPost: Planned Parenthood Controversy Also Exposes Komen's Corporate Problem
As many women's health advocates have been pointing out for years, Komen has acted questionably before on issues that affect women's health — including their breast health. And many of those actions seem to be driven not by the needs of women, but by the needs of Komen's corporate sponsors (Dr. Susan Perry, 2/3).

Boston Globe: That Darn Mitt II (Medicare Edition)
Governor Romney, you attack President Obama and the Democrats for reducing Medicare's rate of growth to pay for a big chunk of the ACA. At the same time, you warmly embrace Cong. Ryan's budget plan that sustains the same $449B in reductions. If elected, will you demand repeal of the Medicare reductions or will you sustain them? Because right now, Governor Romney, your position is quite confusing (John McDonough, 2/4).

Politico: Constitutional Fairy Tales And Affordable Care Act
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act routinely spin a tea-party-infused tale about how our nation’s founding was all about limiting government. ... The Federalist Papers, letters, records of debates and many more original sources provide insight into the views of (George) Washington, (Alexander) Hamilton and other founders about the scope of federal power under the Constitution they helped write. These sources show that, unlike the constitutional tale told by Affordable Care Act opponents, the Founding Fathers were keenly attuned to the need to create a federal government capable of providing national solutions to national problems (Elizabeth B. Wydra, 2/5).

USA Today: Don't Blame Heritage For ObamaCare Mandate
Is the individual mandate at the heart of "ObamaCare" a conservative idea? Is it constitutional? And was it invented at The Heritage Foundation? In a word, no. The U.S. Supreme Court will put the middle issue to rest. The answers to the first and last can come from me. After all, I headed Heritage's health work for 30 years. And make no mistake: Heritage and I actively oppose the individual mandate (Stuart Butler, 2/5).

The New York Times: Politics And The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court underscored its power to shape American life when it took major cases about the health care reform law, Arizona's anti-immigrant law and the Voting Rights Act in an election year. But this is not simply a case of the court thrusting itself into politics. The way these cases developed and made their way to the highest court also illustrates the reverse — how politics shape the court (2/4).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Reform Built To Fail
Americans may not be familiar with the medical innovation called negative pressure wound therapy, though it has helped hundreds of thousands of patients with complex or chronic injuries like burns or diabetic ulcer complications that could never heal on their own. Now President Obama's Medicare team is about to severely damage this field, and many others too—all in the name of reforming how the entitlement pays for care (2/6).

The Fiscal Times: Cost Savings As We Age: Common Sense
Fiscal sustainability in a new century absolutely requires healthy aging. It is time to create policies that would rein in Medicare costs so that we can invest in healthy aging. No wonder Europe has dedicated the year to "healthy and active aging." Or that the World Health Organization has declared that 2012's World Health Day be dedicated to population aging (Michael Hodin, 2/3). 

Arizona Republic: State Funding To Help Hospitals Should Be Increased
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association calls this the hospital promise -- the knowledge that hospitals will be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide the care you need when you need it. Now, that promise is threatened. Mounting financial pressures resulting from years of state budget cuts and the recession are destabilizing hospitals across our state. Some hospitals are beginning to resemble the patients they treat -- wounded, suffering and in need of financial relief to prevent permanent injury (Laura Liles, 2/6).

Modern Healthcare: Do-It-Yourself Rationing
Just about every attempt at reforming our healthcare system over the years has drawn fire from critics about what they say will be the ultimate objective of cost-cutters: reducing spending by limiting access to necessary care. But it's been the fraying safety net and a troubled economy that have increasingly led us down the path to self-imposed rationing. The essential words in this discussion are "necessary care." All of us should agree on the need to avoid unnecessary healthcare spending, whether it's choosing a generic drug over the brand name or making an appointment with an urgent-care clinic rather than racing to the ER. In many cases, we're talking more about budgeting than rationing (David May, 2/4).

The New York Times: The Campaign To Defeat Alzheimer's
There is hopeful news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease, a type of dementia that gradually robs millions of older Americans of their memories and mental capacities and ultimately kills them. Scientists are beginning to close in on possible diagnostic tests and treatments for this incurable disease. And the Obama administration, carrying out a law enacted in 2010, has just issued a "draft framework" for an aggressive campaign to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease effectively by 2025 (2/5).

Bloomberg: Revised Autism Definition Too Important To Rush Into Print
The plan has aroused fears that it may strip many people of a diagnosis and thus the insurance and government benefits that can go with it. So far, it's not certain whether this would be the result. But until the consequences are known, it's premature for the American Psychiatric Association to change the autism diagnosis in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2/5).

San Francisco Chronicle: CLASS Act Is Dead, But Obama Won't Repeal It
Nonpartisan watchdogs warned Congress about the perils of the CLASS Act, yet Congress passed it. The Obama administration has admitted CLASS is not sustainable, yet the White House wants to keep the law on the books. If the Obama administration won't support eliminating a health care initiative that it knows cannot work, why should Americans trust the rest of Obamacare?  (Debra J. Saunders, 2/4)

Medscape: EMR: Efficiency Mauled Repeatedly
We have basically become highly paid data-entry specialists. We are sitting there typing our progress notes and faxing things ourselves and ordering labs ourselves and ordering CAT scans ourselves -- in some ways, reducing our efficiency. I have been doing some polls of other oncologists, particularly academic oncologists, and they are saying the same thing, that they are spending more and more time interfacing with that computer and having less and less time now for patient care when, in fact, the EMR was supposed to improve efficiency (Dr. John Marshall, 2/3).

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