KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Today’s Opinions: Brooks, Reich, Fund, Cook On Repeal; End-Of-Life Care Controversy Continues

The New York Times: Buckle Up For Round 2
The health care reform law was signed 10 months ago, and what's striking now is how vulnerable it looks. Several threats have emerged - some of them scarcely discussed before passage - that together or alone could seriously endanger the new system. ... After the trauma of the last two years, many people wish the issue would go away. But it's not going away, especially since costs will continue to rise. (David Brooks, 1/6). 

Los Angeles Times: An Essential Mandate
The individual mandate provision of the 2010 healthcare reform law is winding its way through the courts, and will probably be decided by the Supreme Court. It's the place of judges to decide the constitutional issues. However, as a physician and a public health researcher, respectively, we believe that striking down the mandate would threaten the future of private health insurance coverage (Dr. Rahul Rajkumar and Harold Pollack, 1/7). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Repeal: GOP Should Be Careful What It Wishes For 
[T]he current Republican attack on mandatory coverage is curious because it raises the essential question of how society would otherwise spread health-care risks. If successful-either in Congress or in the courts-a Republican victory could turn into a Pyrrhic one by opening the way to the alternative model, based on the system Americans seem to prefer: payroll taxes and public insurance (Robert Reich, 1/7). 

National Journal: Beyond Repeal 
A logical course of action would be for Republicans to seek to make changes to the least popular provisions of the bill and then move on to other issues so they don't get portrayed as Johnny One Notes. Opposition to the health care measure was an important dynamic in the election but not the only one. Voters wanted other issues addressed as well (Charlie Cook, 1/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Things Could Get Ugly 
Expect Democrats in several of those vulnerable seats to cast strategic votes in favor of some key GOP priorities, including a vote rescinding the mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance (John Fund, 1/7). 

The Washington Post: Will Health-Care Reform Really Save The Government Money?
I'm a big critic of the new House budget rules, which have the perverse effect of making it easier to increase the budget deficit. And I think repealing the health-care law would be a mistake. But it's unfair to accuse House Republicans of being willing to blow a huge hole in the deficit by repealing health care and of being hypocrites on fiscal responsibility by exempting the effects of health-care repeal from their budget rules (Ruth Marcus, 1/6). 

San Jose Mercury News: Speak Up If You Support Health Care Reform
It's what follows the symbolic vote that could cause harm: gradual attempts to chip away at reform by, for example, refusing to fund provisions. ... The voices of opponents of health care reform -- and of anything else that might be a feather in Obama's cap -- are loud. We suspect there are more supporters, but that won't matter if they remain silent. (1/7). 
 
(Minneapolis) Star Tribune: A Gutless Decision On End-Of-Life Care
"Death panels" are a malicious lie promoted by those who want to see federal health care reform fail at any cost. And yet this shameful falsehood triumphed this week with the spineless reversal of a key end-of-life-care decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1/6). 

USA Today: Our View On Health Care: Nonsense About 'Death Panels' Springs Back To Life
Here we go again. A clumsy bit of rulemaking by the Obama administration has revived nutty talk about 'death panels' - the inflammatory but thoroughly debunked notion purveyed last year by opponents of the new health reform law. ... there's nothing sinister about giving Medicare patients the option to talk through end-of-life issues with their doctors in private, even if it never saves Medicare a dime. It's the humane thing to do (1/6). 

USA Today: Opposing View On Health Care: On The Road to Rationing
In the summer of 2009, town hall meetings erupted as people voiced fears about greater government control over health care decisions. ... People sensed a potential conflict of interest if the federal government was paying doctors for end-of-life counseling and also paying for end-of-life care. Many Americans worry that, as government tries to control health spending, unelected officials could decide not to pay for treatments seen as too expensive. These fears are not fanciful (Grace-Marie Turner, 1/6). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Frank Talk About End-Of-Life Decisions
Most people who have experience in helping to care for a terminally ill person, with the assistance of hospice, are offended by the political demagogues who misrepresent end-of-life care. ... To propagate such obvious distortions is not only disingenuous but also a disservice to those who are very ill, their families and the medical profession, whose mission should be to provide the best care -- not the most expensive, aggressive or invasive care -- for all patients (Bob Ray Sanders, 1/6).

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