KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: GOP Excuse For ‘Doing Nothing;’ Sen. Rubio: No Taxpayer-Funded Bailout Of The Insurance Industry

The Wall Street Journal: No Bailouts For Obamacare
As the people's representatives, the U.S. Congress should completely eliminate the possibility of a bailout of insurance companies. On Tuesday I am introducing legislation that would eliminate the risk corridor provision, ensuring that no taxpayer-funded bailout of the health insurance industry will ever occur under ObamaCare. If this disaster of a law cannot survive without a bailout rescue valve, it is yet another reason why it should be repealed (Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 11/18).

The New York Times: A New G.O.P. Excuse For Doing Nothing
With unrestrained glee, Republicans are using the calamitous debut of the Affordable Care Act as their latest justification for undermining all of health care reform. But they're not stopping there. The Obama administration's fumbling is apparently a good excuse for them to do nothing on immigration reform, on a budget agreement, and on any other initiative coming out of the White House (11/18).

Los Angeles Times: The Myths Of Obamacare's 'Failure'
Attacks on the Affordable Care Act have stepped up over the last week or so. You'd think that the healthcare reform known as Obamacare is leading to the wholesale loss of affordable insurance by huge sectors of the American public, ... Don't buy the hype. The numbers tell an entirely different story. ... the number of victims is much smaller than you're being led to think and is swamped by the ranks of beneficiaries (Michael Hiltzik, 11/18).

The New Republic: Six Things The Media Doesn't Understand About Obamacare
The Obamacare cancellation stories have dominated the media for the past two weeks. And it’s easy to understand why. People losing their insurance is a bigger story than people getting insurance for the first time—particularly when the folks losing coverage remember, quite distinctly, the president vowing they can keep their insurance if they like it. ... there are at least six reasons to think the real story is smaller—and way more complicated—than a credulous media would have everybody believe (Jonathan Cohn, 11/18).

Los Angeles Times: A California-Style Fix For Obamacare's Runaway Premiums 
[T]he cancellations or the HealthCare.gov website, is[not] the fundamental problem with the Affordable Care Act: The law places no limits on the price insurance companies can charge for the coverage we are required to buy. ... Consumer Watchdog has qualified an initiative for the November 2014 ballot that would place health insurance companies doing business in California under Proposition 103's regulatory controls. The nation will be watching as California voters once again lead the way in insurance reform, this time with a state-based strategy to close the loophole in the Affordable Care Act (Harvey Rosenfield, 11/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Capital Journal: Why New Health Law Is So Complicated
The rollout of the Affordable Care Act is in trouble, functionally and politically, and the simplest critique of the new health law is that it's simply proving too complicated. Indeed, its complexity—the need for multiple pieces to work in harmony from the outset—is the single best explanation of why its introduction has been so problematic. What's less recognized is why the new law is so complex in the first place: It represents what may be the biggest attempt ever to weave together big-government impulses with free-market forces (Gerald F. Seib, 11/18). 

The Wall Street Journal: Katrina And Obamacare
Granted, it's an imperfect analogy. So is every other analogy, but there are some particularly glaring differences here. As Karl Van Zandt observes on Twitter, President Bush didn't push Hurricane Katrina through Congress without a single vote from the other party. And, Global-warmist superstitions notwithstanding, Katrina was a natural disaster, not a man-caused one (James Taranto, 11/18).

Reuters: GOP On Obamacare: Divide And Conquer
Congressional Democrats don't seem especially happy with the president's fix. They are trying to put together their own legislative remedy. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is proposing a bill that would allow people to keep their old health insurance plans — not for one year as Obama has proposed, but indefinitely. ... The threat to Obamacare is clear. Allowing people to keep cut-rate, shoddy policies that do not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act will create two separate risk pools. A lot of young, healthy Americans will stay with their old, cheap policies, while older and sicker people, desperate for coverage, will enroll in Obamacare (Bill Schneider, 11/19).

Chicago Sun-Times: Poetic Justice Of Unraveling Obamacare 
The talking heads love presidential analogies. Is Obamacare’s rollout Obama’s Hurricane Katrina or his Iraq? ... These comparisons don’t take you far. The president’s troubles are unique to his particular vanities and blind spots. ... The unraveling of Obamacare is a kind of poetic justice, not just for Obama, whose overweening and utterly groundless arrogance now stands rebuked, but also for liberalism. Until Obamacare, liberals had been able to boast of providing benefits to various constituencies while forever pushing the costs onto future generations. This time is different (Mona Charen, 11/18).

The Washington Post: From Promise To Fine Print
The vast majority of Americans listening to the vast majority of words coming out of Jay Carney’s mouth would find it a vastly confusing user experience. The presidential press secretary has spent a week or so trying to explain what White House officials mean when they say the beleaguered HealthCare.gov Web site will "work smoothly for the vast majority of users" by month's end. ... what he is engaged in is defining a “vast majority” in a way that doesn’t commit the White House to a promise it can’t keep (Dana Milbank, 11/18).

And on Medicare -

The New York Times: The Geezers Are Not Alright
The Washington Post editorial board wants to cut Medicare and Social Security. ... what it has pushed repeatedly are things like a rise in the Medicare age. These are the kind of moves that are considered serious inside the Beltway. ... But perceived seriousness is not the same as actual seriousness, which depends on the facts. We now know that raising the Medicare age is a truly terrible idea, which would create a lot of hardship while making next to no dent in the budget deficit. And the central premise of the latest editorial — that the elderly are doing fine — just isn’t true (Paul Krugman, 11/18).

The New York Times' Economix: Medicare Part D: Republican Budget-Busting
Ten years ago this week, Republicans enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state since the creation of Medicare in 1965 by adding a huge unfunded program providing coverage for prescription drugs to the Medicare program. ... By 2003, strong bipartisan support existed for expanding Medicare to include prescription drugs (Bruce Bartlett, 11/19). 

JAMA: Is The Time Right For A Permanent Fix To Medicare’s Formula For Physician Payment
The annual panic affecting the nation's physicians is in full swing. "Medicare docs face 24% pay cut… again," reported CNN Money this month. But after almost a decade of kicking the can down the road, Congress is closer than ever to solving one of Medicare's most vexing problems (Drs. Darshak Sanghavi, John O’Shea and Mark McClellan, 11/18).

On another issue -

Los Angeles Times: A Second Opinion On Statins
According to two respected medical organizations, up to twice as many of us — nearly a third of all adults — should be taking statins to avoid heart attack and stroke. ... These are exactly the kinds of complicated issues that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force excels in examining. Before the nation embarks on a radical shift that could double the number of people taking statins, this independent, congressionally authorized group should deliver a second opinion (11/19).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.