KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Endorsing – And Repudiating – Health Law Repeal; Gov. Brewer On Ariz. Medicaid; Medical Devices ‘Red Tape’

USA Today: Our View On Health Law: House GOP Vote Is Easy. Now What?
The reason the GOP never got around to proposing a serious plan to expand coverage and control costs is because doing that is excruciatingly hard and politically dangerous. Look how long Democrats struggled to craft a measure and what happened to them after they passed it. If the new Congress wants to be productive, it should work together - in the same spirit of bipartisan cooperation that marked the recent lame-duck session of Congress - on the unfinished business of health care reform: curbing the unsustainable surge in Medicare costs and health insurance premiums (1/19). 

USA Today: Opposing View On Health Law: 'We Need A New Approach'
For the record, Republicans worked for years to improve America's health care system. We created popular Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare prescription drug coverage. We created Health Savings Accounts. We created the medical insurance tax deduction for the self-employed. We fought for medical malpractice reform and cost-saving association health plans - only to see them filibustered in the Senate(Rep. Joe Pitts, 1/19).

Politico: Health Care: Priorities Or Politics? 
Repeal balloons the deficit, erases jobs and tramples the middle class - while helping health industry giants. ... Congress passed the health insurance reform law to ensure that patients and their doctors are fully in charge of health care - not health insurance companies or Wall Street CEOs. If those who stand in the way of progress are asking us to return to the failed policies of the past, to do the same old thing and expecting new results (Rep. Paul Tonko, 1/19).

Fox News: Why I Am Voting To Repeal The New Health Care Law 
We know that we face a long and tough battle in our efforts to fully repeal the bill. But we will take the first step because this law stifles job creation, increases costs and limits freedom (Rep. Lamar Smith, 1/19).

The Wall Street Journal: The Repeal Vote
The GOP does need to craft a reform alternative based on competition and market incentives that is more than a return to the status quo ante. And while "repeal and replace" can't happen as long as Mr. Obama wields veto power, yesterday's vote sent an important signal to voters that ObamaCare can't be fixed at the margins when it is so destructive at its core. Next up: defunding the law's implementation and repealing some of its more pernicious parts (1/20). 

The Miami Herald: House's Political Melodrama 
The healthcare reform act is by no means perfect. If the fight over repeal opens the door to an honest debate over its flaws and ways to make improvements, both Republicans and Democrats should seize the opportunity to move forward rather than engaging in political dramas that lead nowhere (1/20).  

Des Moines Register: Amend, Not Repeal, Health Care Law
The law should not be repealed, but some lawmakers made legitimate points about tweaks that may need to be made. They raised issues - like malpractice reform and the mandate that people buy health insurance - that are worthy of discussion. There is room for Congress to continue to work on improving the new law. The debate was also valuable because it reminded Americans that the new law is already helping people (1/19).

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare, One More Time
On the most important domestic issues of the day, our two political parties don't merely lay out competing arguments; they inhabit alternative realities (Doyle McManus, 1/20). 

Chicago Tribune: Inoculating Against True Health Reform
Critics have noted many flaws in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul: It's too expensive, too intrusive, too coercive and too complex. But one central defect that accounts for much of the other mischief: the pretense that making us all better off is a miraculous, cost-free bonanza. ... The Easter Bunny approach is not unknown among Republicans, either (Steve Chapman, 1/20). 

The Washington Post: Yes, Repeal Health-Care Reform – On One Condition
Fine. I'm willing to repeal Obamacare. On one condition. Republicans need to pass a law that the Congressional Budget Office certifies will cover the same number of uninsured as the Democratic health reform does - 30 million. And it has to do it at lower cost (Matt Miller, 1/19). 

The Hill: Tread Lightly On Healthcare
With repeal behind them, Republicans - who have released no bill of their own but have directed committees to begin the process of writing some - will want to come up with answers soon. The law might be as weak as the Republicans claim it is. And they may succeed in changing much of it. But it could grow more popular in the months to come. Careful treading will be required (A.B. Stoddard, 1/19). 

Kaiser Health News: 'Multiple Fictions' Drive Opposition to Health Law 
[T]he health reform debate is not about a fictional war between market-based health insurance and government regulation. It is about whether to provide adequate subsidies to cover the uninsured and whether to begin a process of leveraging change in the delivery and payment systems through which one-sixth of the U.S. economy is devoted to health care (Henry J. Aaron, 1/19). 

The Wall Street Journal: The GOP's Health-Care Offensive Has Just Begun
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described this week's House vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare as "partisan grandstanding." Other Democratic congressmen called it "a political scam," "unfortunate" and "fruitless." Liberal pundits described it as "useless" and "meaningless." All of which confirms that the GOP is on the right path (Karl Rove, 1/20). 

The Arizona Republic: Our Strapped State Needs Flexibility
If our state budget is to be balanced, it will require action by Congress and the White House. They must provide flexibility to states so we have the ability to create sustainable Medicaid programs. Arizona's AHCCCS program cannot possibly grow at the pace Obamacare is now requiring. It impacts our state budget by roughly $1 billion and continues to impact it at a growing rate every year. So, if the federal government does not repeal the Obamacare legislation, all other programs in state government are subsequently threatened (Gov. Jan Brewer, 12/19).

Star Tribune: Cutting Red Tape For Medical Devices
The federal agency overseeing a leading Minnesota industry -- medical device manufacturing -- sent a strong signal Wednesday that the Obama administration is serious about a new presidential promise to cut through business-stifling regulatory red tape...There's much more work to be done on these regulatory issues, and the devil, as always, will be in the details yet to be worked out. But the change in direction by this massive federal agency is a step forward (1/19). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Update Laws On Health Care Peer Review
While national report cards show that Wisconsin is a national leader in high quality care, our peer review laws have fallen behind other states, no longer aligning with the way modern care is delivered. Wisconsin is fortunate to have integrated health systems, hospitals and clinics anxious to work internally and with each other to research and improve practices. Through collaboration, they can make measurable strides to improve patient safety and outcomes (Nick Turkal and Steve Benton, 1/18).

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