KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: ‘Two Great Dangers’ of Obamacare; Sen. Klobuchar And Rep. Paulsen On Wellness; ‘McKinseyGate’

The Washington Post: Coming Soon: A Bigger, Costlier Obamacare
Obamacare poses two great dangers to our nation: lower quality of care and runaway costs. It will stifle innovation and lead to rationing. But the overwhelming cost and the damage it will do to our nation's finances at a pivotal moment in our history deserve greater scrutiny (Ron Johnson and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 6/16).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: We All Win With Wellness In Workplace
In these tough economic times, spiraling health care costs continue to bust the budgets of families and businesses alike. If we don't get these rising costs under control, all of us will suffer the consequences.  One sure way to make health care more affordable, both for families and businesses, is to encourage people to stay healthy in the first place. That's what is meant by the term "wellness." (Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Erik Paulsen, 6/17)

The New York Times:  McKinseyGate
The story so far: McKinsey released the alleged results of a study showing that large numbers of firms will drop health insurance coverage once the Affordable Care Act goes fully into effect. ... You can't enter the political debate with strong claims about what the evidence says, then refuse to produce that evidence (Paul Krugman, 6/17).

The Washington Post: Obama's Dilemma On The Debt-Limit Talks
The most consequential recent political debate did not take place in New Hampshire. It is being held at Blair House, where Vice President Biden is convening bipartisan negotiations for an increase in the debt limit. ... Senate Republicans describe to me the outlines of a possible deal: a package of immediate and specific budget cuts; budget caps reaching out five years to reassure conservatives that tough budget decisions will be made in the future; Medicare reforms short of the House approach; no tax increases - a Republican red line - but perhaps additional revenue from the elimination of tax expenditures (Michael Gerson, 6/16).

Bloomberg: 'Vouchercare' Is The Right Name For Medicare
In our Medicare debate, the role of invective has been foisted upon the word "voucher." If we want to get our government's finances under control, it's time we rehabilitated it. The use of the V-word screams "far right wing." Its public utterance has become so dangerous that Democrat Alice Rivlin and Republican Paul Ryan, in proposing their Medicare fix last December, referred to vouchers as "payments to providers."  Nonetheless, when Ryan put forward a similar plan this spring, Democrats immediately labeled it with the V-word (Kotlikoff, 6/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats For Pension Reform
Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and the state's top two Democratic leaders struck a deal on Wednesday to modify public employee retirement and health benefits, which would save the state at least $122 billion over the next 30 years. Unions like to portray such reforms as GOP assaults on labor, but Garden State Democrats are demonstrating that saving taxpayer money isn't always partisan (6/16).

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Set the Stage For Health Care Reform
New York needs to pass legislation establishing a state health insurance exchange in the next few days. Health insurance coverage for millions of New Yorkers is at stake. An exchange will offer a choice of plans for consumers and small businesses, a type of insurance marketplace where insurers compete. If we don't pass an exchange bill this legislative session, we lose the chance to apply for up to $100 million in federal funding (Trilby de Jung, 6/16).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A Cap Is No Fix
Unless Gov. Scott Walker uses his veto pen, the state's popular Family Care program for frail elderly and younger adults with disabilities will be capped as part of the state budget bill.  ... A freeze might end up being more expensive and certainly will make it harder for vulnerable patients to get care. Family Care, a program started under former Gov. Tommy Thompson, is designed to offer an alternative to nursing home care. There are about 35,000 people in 53 counties in the program, including about 8,000 from Milwaukee County. A cap might prevent as many as 16,900 enrollments over the next two years (6/16).

Seattle Times: Budget Cuts Contribute To Rising Smoking Rate
Word to cigarette smokers of Washington state: You are not only harming yourselves, you are smudging our reputation as a healthy, fresh-air, clean-living, no-smoking kind of place. Washington's percentage of adult smokers jumped by a small amount, but the direction is completely wrong. Washington dropped from ranking third in the nation of lowest-smoking states to tied for 11th with Maryland, says the federal Centers for Disease Control (6/16).

Des Moines Register: Parties Find Common Ground On Human Services Spending
The health and human services budget funds four state agencies focused on health care, veterans, and elderly, children, disabled and other vulnerable Iowans. As we work toward a final human services budget for next year, the dollar amount separating Republican and Democrat proposals is small. Both parties are willing to spend roughly $1.5 billion. Considering the stalemate we've seen on so much of the budget, I'm pleased that human services has made true bipartisan progress (State Sen. Jack Hatch, 6/16).

The Baltimore Sun: Autism Doctor: My Therapy Is Unconventional, But It Works
Throughout my medical career, my top priority has always been the welfare and treatment of my patients. Like every other medical professional who has treated children with autism, I wish there was more that we understood. So many of us are working to build on the body of existing research, and I am honored that my work has resulted in a successful therapy for many families. All that I ask is to be permitted to continue my work and assist children and their parents in the quest to find answers (Dr. Mark Geier, 6/16). 

San Francisco Chronicle: CPMC Must Pay Its Fair Share To Get New Hospital
California Pacific Medical Center's plan to build a new 555-bed hospital on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard is the focus of a campaign portraying it as a victim of unfair demands from the city and community and labor organizations. There is something profoundly wrong with this story. First, what CPMC is proposing is a substantial restructuring of the health care system in San Francisco, including a considerable scaling down of the only private hospital (St. Luke's) south of Market Street. Second, according to the state, CPMC reported profits of $188 million in 2009, while its parent corporation, Sutter Health, netted $878 million in 2010, making it among the most profitable hospitals in California. On the other hand, CPMC gets full tax benefits as a non-profit organization. There is justifiably an obligation to serve the public good in exchange for those substantial benefits (Bob Prentice, Rachel Ebora & Steve Woo, 6/16).

San Francisco Examiner: Employers Need SF's Cooperation On Health Care
At a time when American employers are preparing to extend health care access and affordability under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, San Francisco may be forcing its employers to move in exactly the opposite direction. A newly proposed amendment to The City's health care mandate - the Health Care Security Ordinance - would limit health care options for employers, place additional burdens on local businesses and ultimately result in lost jobs and reduced benefits for San Franciscans (Steve Falk, 6/16).

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