KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Judge Vinson’s Decision And Sarah Palin, Voting Rights Act; States’ Medicaid ‘Burden;’ Global Fund Controversy

Politico: Health Care And The Voting Rights Act
With news coverage focused on Federal District Judge Roger Vinson's decision Monday to declare the health care reform law unconstitutional, it might be easy to miss this week's news from another federal courthouse: opponents of the Voting Rights Act have renewed their efforts to have that law declared unconstitutional, too. As different as these cases look, the Voting Rights Act litigation may well save the health care law-or most of it - from being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Richard Hasen, 2/4). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Repeal Has Begun
Mark this date: On Feb. 2, 2011, a Democratic Senate killed the first piece of the health-care law it passed less than a year ago. Bowing (finally) to reality, 34 Democrats rushed to be among the 81 senators who axed the bill's odious 1099 tax reporting requirement. Let the ObamaCare dismantling begin (Kimberley A. Strassel, 2/3). 

McClatchy / San Jose Mercury News: Judge's Health Care Ruling Smacks Of Judicial Activism
Step aside, Sarah Palin. The tea party has a new darling: Florida federal Judge Roger Vinson. ... The most outrageous part of Vinson's ruling - aside from a quirky reference to the 1773 Tea Party - is the absurd assertion that "the mere status of being without health insurance, in and of itself, has absolutely no impact whatsoever on interstate commerce." Tell that to the taxpayers and employers who are now picking up the tab for the 50 million uninsured Americans (2/3).

McClatchy / The Anchorage Daily News: Fast-Track Health Care Bill To Supreme Court
Democrats and Republicans are at fierce odds over the health care bill, but they should agree with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's call for the Supreme Court to decide whether the provision requiring purchase of health insurance is constitutional -- sooner than later. Let's have a decision that counts. So far we have dueling rulings that don't settle the issue (2/3).

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram / McClatchy: Health Care Law Moves Closer To Supreme Court
The Supreme Court will have final say. But what the justices ultimately will decide, most likely not for at least another year, is only whether Congress can require all Americans to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. That won't be a verdict on whether other aspects of the law are wise or popular or will be effective. And it certainly won't resolve whether congressional Republicans have better ideas for tackling acknowledged problems in the U.S. healthcare system (2/3). 

The Wall Street Journal: The States Can't Afford ObamaCare 
By opening Medicaid to applicants 33% above the poverty line in 2014, ObamaCare could expand Medicaid enrollment by as much as 25%, according to the plaintiffs in the Florida suit. ... The framers of ObamaCare seem to have been too clever by half in their attempt to shift costs to the states. However the courts may eventually rule, you can't get blood out of a turnip (George Melloan, 2/4). 

The Seattle Times: No GOP Prescription For Health Care
Republicans, with their repeal vote in the House of Representatives and Wednesday's charade in the Senate, truly reveal how much they do not get it. They rant about Obamacare as they willfully distort the fiscal impacts, and fail to offer a single idea of their own. Random speeches do not count. Where is their star-spangled legislation to provide relief for anxious families? (Lance Dickie, 2/3).

The Wall Street Journal: House Of Waxman
In the glass-houses department, Henry Waxman is accusing Republicans of "an abuse of the oversight process" ... Mr. Waxman claims [Rep. Fred] Upton is "unduly disruptive" because he is asking for basic HHS communications about an office set up under ObamaCare to write and enforce regulations on private insurance companies. Originally, that office directly reported to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, but it was suddenly relocated to the Medicare center after Republicans took Congress. The bureaucratic reshuffling was likely meant to counter GOP attempts to defund the office, which has nothing to do with Medicare (2/4). 

The Arizona Republic: Restore Funding That Saves Lives
Nearly 100 Arizonans were on the waiting list when the state cut off funding last year for pancreas, liver, heart, lung and bone-marrow transplants. The issue for them isn't data, it's life or death... Gov. Jan Brewer insists that the small sum necessary to provide transplant coverage for a handful of desperately ill Arizonans - an estimated $1.4 million this fiscal year - can't be discussed separately from the overall state budget. This is one of the rare times, though, when the alternative to funding is death (2/4). 

San Francisco Chronicle: California's Nursing Shortage Hasn't Been Fixed
As each state's economy recovers, each will be hit with an increase of vacancies in both registered nurse and faculty nursing positions as Baby Boomers retire. Many have closed their eyes to the ripple effect of today's nursing shortage, but it is impossible to discuss the need for more nurses without looking to how this will change the future of health care. We might stumble upon a solution that will enable each state to fill the gap by tomorrow, but we will still be left with the problems stemming from today and yesterday (Randy M. Caine, 2/4).

The Washington Post: Putting Fraud In Global Health Spending In Context
When scandals fit preexisting ideological narratives, they assume a life of their own. This particular narrative - the story of useless, wasted aid - is durable. It is also misleading and might be deadly. The Global Fund controversy illustrates the point. ... the $34 million in fraud that has been exposed represents about three-tenths of 1 percent of the money the fund has distributed. The targeting of these particular cases was not random; they were the most obviously problematic, not the most typical (Michael Gerson, 2/4). 

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