KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Disputing The Costs — Or Savings — Of The Health Law; Britain’s NHS; ‘Fixing’ Wis. Medicaid

National Journal: Repeal and Avoid
With this week's vote to repeal President Obama's health care reform, House Republicans struck a blow for freedom. They struck a blow for the freedom of hospitals to avoid financial penalties, no matter how many Medicare patients develop infections under their care. They struck a blow for the freedom of hospitals to avoid consequences, no matter how many Medicare patients are re­admitted soon after treatment. And they struck a blow for the freedom of health care providers to receive unending annual increases in their Medicare reimbursements, even if they fail to improve their productivity by even a fraction of what's occurring in other industries (Ronald Brownstein, 1/20).  

Los Angeles Times: GOP's Childish Opposition To Healthcare Reform
Get over your bad selves. That's basically what former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist told his GOP compadres this week as they set about trying to dismantle the national healthcare reform law. ... The prudent thing to do at this point is to build on [the law] rather than waste time with fruitless - and needlessly divisive - political grandstanding. And the Republicans have outdone themselves for misinforming the American people about what the reform law will and will not do (David Lazarus, 1/21).

The Washington Post: The GOP's Rude Awakening On Health-Care Repeal
This whole health-care thing isn't quite working out the way Republicans planned. ... [an] AP poll found that just 26 percent of respondents wanted Congress to repeal the reform law completely. A recent Washington Post poll found support for outright repeal at 18 percent; a Marist poll pegged it at 30 percent. In other words, what House Republicans just voted to do may be the will of the Tea Party, but it's not "the will of the people"  (Eugene Robinson, 1/21).

The Washington Post: Everything Starts With Repeal
Suppose someone -- say, the president of United States -- proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I've got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion. He'd be laughed out of town. And yet, this is precisely what the Democrats are claiming as a virtue of Obamacare (Charles Krauthammer, 1/21).

San Francisco Chronicle: GOP Vote To Repeal Health Reform An Empty Gesture
At the very least, if they insist on scotching Obama's health care plan, they need to produce one of their own -- preferably one that would also save the country $230 billion in deficits. So far, their alternative ideas -- allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines, expanded medical savings accounts, and medical liability reform -- aren't big enough to offer that much in savings (1/21).

San Francisco Chronicle: Time To Curb Obamacare
When he ran for office, Obama said that his health care plan "will cut the cost of a typical family's premium by $2,500." But how are employers supposed to curb rising health costs when Washington is stripping away the leverage to contain them? (Debra J. Saunders, 1/20). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Health Exchanges A Bad Idea For Wisconsin
Any state establishing an exchange is making a one-way, lose-lose bet. If health care reform persists, exchanges will become bloated administrative nightmares. If it is defeated, states will have wasted time and energy that should have been directed toward that effort. Health care reform is the president's problem. Wisconsin's leaders shouldn't make it theirs, too (John R. Graham, 1/20). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Some Ideas To Fix Medicaid
Physicians believe all citizens should have access to the most cost-effective care. Physicians are duty-bound and in fact eager to do their part to solve problems with the health of the people. It is likely some physicians could afford to take a cut in Medicaid reimbursement and some could not. If that is true, then as part of the solution to the Medicaid fiscal crisis, why not consider a reduction in physician payment according to their ability to afford it (Norman M. Jensen, 1/20).

The Wall Street Journal: The Myth Of Free Health Care
Of all the myths about the [British] National Health Service, none is more pervasive or persistent than the notion that under the single-payer system, health care is provided solely on the basis of medical need rather than cost. Not so. ... This week, David Cameron's government unveiled its bill to reform the NHS. ... The goal, according to the Prime Minister, is to reduce bureaucracy and waste and push decision-making down to the doctors who know their patients best (1/21).

Kaiser Health News: Quit The RUC
Primary care physicians have tried to change the process, but to no avail. Leaving would de-legitimize the RUC [American Medical Association's Relative Value Scale Update Committee -- or RUC, a secretive, 29 person, specialist-dominated panel], paving the way for a new, more balanced process to supplant it (Brian Klepper and David C. Kibbe, 1/21). 

The Arizona Republic: Gauging Human Cost Of Cuts To Mental-Health Services
According to the latest estimated budget cuts proposed by Gov. Jan Brewer, roughly 5,200 people with serious mental illness will be removed from the state's Medicaid coverage list. What will that mean? ... It's like one of the concerned women told me, "The state saves money with these cuts, but what do they risk losing? Lives" (E. J. Montini, 1/21). 

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