KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Is Obama Abandoning His Health Victory?

The New Republic: Did Obama Say Enough On Health Care?
Did (President Barack) Obama say enough about health care reform last night? I suppose I'm one of the very few people who would even ask that question. Most Americans would probably think, "More health care? Lord no." And I think Obama and his speechwriters sensed as much. Although his defense of the Affordable Care Act was clear -- he's not going to sign a bill repealing the law -- it was also short. That portion of the speech was just two brief paragraphs, by my count (Jonathan Cohn, 1/26).

Kaiser Health News Column: Fixing The Failure At Physician Compare
The launch of Medicare's Physician Compare website at year-end should have been a watershed event in the long campaign for health care transparency and patient empowerment. Instead – and it pains me to write this – Physician Compare is a case study in how the interests of the average citizen can be shunted aside by indifferent government, lazy journalists and solipsistic special interests. That remains true despite all of those involved being Good People Trying To Do The Right Thing (Michael Millenson, 1/27).

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland's Health Care Imperative
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein briefed lawmakers in Annapolis this week on a package of bills aimed at setting up the health exchanges states will be required to establish under the new federal health care law passed by Congress last year. Their message: If Maryland is to hit the ground running by 2014, when the most important changes mandated by law kick in, state officials had best start preparing now. Some lawmakers, citing Republican efforts to overturn the health care reform bill in Washington, are urging Maryland to wait. That would be a mistake (1/26).

Politico: Barack Obama: Tower Of Jell-O
Remember the bill that was Obama's great achievement, accomplishing what no president had accomplished before, putting him in the history books, along with Franklin D. Roosevelt's passage of Social Security and Lyndon B. Johnson's passage of Medicare? Well, forget about it. Obama has turned into a tower of Jell-O when it comes to defending it (Roger Simon, 1/27). 

Politico: Health Care Not Broke, So Don't Fix It
Obama does not understand that America's system of health delivery was not broke -- but certainly not perfect. Our system of market-based health delivery has created the best medical service to more people than any other system in the world. The insurance industry has evolved over the years as a state-regulated industry, managed not by Washington but by states themselves. The new health care law reverses that progress by giving the federal government more control (Barry Goldwater Jr., 1/26).

New England Journal Of Medicine: Perspective: The States' Next Challenge -- Securing Primary Care For Expanded Medicaid Populations 
In the coming years, the United States must address both an expansion of Medicaid coverage and an expected shortage of primary care physicians (Leighton Ku, 1/26).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Doesn't Have To Be Last In Developmental Disability Funds
A settlement between Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice offers hope. The settlement has empowered the state to increase its support of people living with developmental disabilities. It also opens the door to new, more effective avenues for allocating funding - with methods that will improve care and increase access to services. But it's only a beginning. The Georgia General Assembly still needs to approve funding before Georgia's families can realize the full benefits of this important ruling (Dave Blanchard, 1/26).

The Denver Post: Shine Light On The True Costs Of Medicare Fraud
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama said health care costs need to be reduced, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, "which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit." Yet, it's difficult to know how to reduce costs, or to glean whether there's much fraud in the program, when a key component of Medicare's finances is shielded from the public. That's one of the reasons we support the lawsuit filed this week by the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper is attempting to overturn a decades-old court decision barring public access to a confidential Medicare database (1/27).

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