KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Birth Control Decision Fallout; Docs On Medi-Cal Reimbursement; Cutting Out Middlemen Insurers

USA Today: 'Conditional' Thanks To Congress, Obama
The most important financial matter for members of Congress when they return from their vacation is to figure out what is essential and what should be reduced or eliminated. … Medicare and Medicaid are absolutely justified for all of us at all ages. We - and the government - just have to make sure that we don't get conned about reductions in health care. There are better places to save money (Al Neuharth, 8/4). 

San Francisco Chronicle: Doctors Say Medi-Cal Reimbursement Is Too Low
While the political debate over the future of Medicare and Medicaid dominates national headlines, California's own Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, stands at a crossroads, threatening the promise of access to quality medical care for millions of Californians. ... Currently, Medi-Cal is the source of health care for 1 in 5 Californians (about 7 million). With the implementation of health care reform right around the corner, 3 million more uninsured will soon be added to the state's Medi-Cal program. But how can we adequately provide more care to more people with fewer resources? California already ranks last in Medicaid payment rates per enrollee (Dustin Corcoran, 8/4). 

San Jose Mercury News: Fighting Birth Control Policy Makes No Sense
The Obama administration decision requiring insurance companies to cover birth control with no co-pay costs easily ranks as the best medical development of the year. But when it comes to women's health issues, America still has a lot of work to do. It speaks volumes that Viagra -- the drug to improve men's sexual performance -- was covered by Medicare six years ago, with little debate. And yet it's entirely possible that if a Republican wins the White House next year, the new regulation will be overturned before it even goes into effect in 2013 (8/4).

Sacramento Bee: Birth Control Mandate Cuts Religious Rights 
So much for the "choice and competition" that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders originally promised in the health reform law. In addition, many religious employers fear that this new mandate will force them to provide their employees with health insurance that violates their moral beliefs. This could have a serious impact on Catholic and other religious schools, hospitals and social services organizations in California (Margaret A. Bengs, 8/5). 

iWatch News: Imagine Primary Care Without The Need For Costly Health Insurance
For health insurance executives, there is no scarier word than "disintermediation." It's a fancy word that means eliminating the middleman, and those executives know that to many folks, they are the middlemen who all too often stand between patients and their doctors. Now a small but growing number of doctors are figuring out that they and their patients can do quite well without the middleman. If this nascent trend catches on, insurance executives might soon discover that they have been disintermediated, at least as far as the delivery of primary care is concerned (Wendell Potter, 8/5).

Des Moines Register: Des Moines Readies Itself For A 'Silver Tsunami' 
[In] our quest to attract and retain young people, we have been overlooking a constituency we will all eventually be part of: the elderly. … Iowa has twice the percentage of residents in care facilities as the nation. One aspect of being age-friendly is keeping seniors at home. ... It costs $550 a month on average to get services at home compared to $230 a day in a long-term care center (Rekha Basu, 8/4).

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