KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Teaching Hospital Cuts; Medicare & Debt Deal Politics; End-Of-Life Care

Politico: 'Code Blue' For Teaching Hospitals
Teaching hospitals educate the next generation of physicians-who are clearly essential for our future. But the importance of academic medical centers and teaching hospitals goes far beyond delivering care. They serve as economic anchors in their communities. In my district, for example, the Bronx's Montefiore Medical Center could lose more than $100 million annually from the proposed cuts-a staggering loss that would severely harm our local economy. There is no question that this is real money with real consequences: More than 70,000 well-paying jobs are at risk nationwide (Rep. Joseph Crowley, 7/14). 

The New York Times: The Courts Step In
In three new rulings, federal judges in different states have acted to block immediate enforcement of measures that restrict abortion rights and women's access to affordable contraception, lifesaving cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. These rulings are important victories for women's health and reproductive rights. ...  these rulings serve as a reminder that courts have a vital role to play in blocking the extreme anti-abortion, anti-family-planning movement accelerating in the states and in Washington (7/13). 

The Washington Post: Debt Deal May Be Unfair To Women
"Everything has to be on the table" has become the mantra that is dictating the deficit-reduction discussions. But "everything" has a name and she is more likely to be a woman. She's a senior citizen or a mother struggling to get by. Putting everything on the table, including reductions in social safety net programs, will disproportionately hurt women already struggling to make ends meet (Michelle Singletary, 7/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Owns The Debt-Ceiling Fiasco
The president has made a bipartisan agreement even more difficult by declaring certain spending off-limits to cuts. Mr. Obama's "untouchable" list includes his $1 trillion health-care reform, $128 billion in unspent stimulus funds, education and training outlays, his $53 billion high-speed rail proposal, spending on "green" jobs and student loans, and virtually any structural changes to entitlements except further squeezing payments to doctors, hospitals and health-care professionals (Karl Rove, 7/14). 

Los Angeles Times: One Good Debt Debate Deserves Another
Spending is negotiable; Obama has agreed that it needs to come down to tame the federal deficit. The president even agreed to put cuts in future Medicare and Social Security benefits on the table, which drew a rebuke from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republicans said Obama's proposals for spending cuts were too small and too slow, and that his trims for Medicare and Social Security wouldn't come soon enough and weren't specific enough for them to take seriously (Doyle McManus, 7/14).

Dallas Morning News: Why Is Obama Taking Fire From The Left?
Critical blasts erupted from the Democratic Party's left wing when the White House indicated President Barack Obama could include Social Security and Medicare cuts in a bipartisan multitrillion-dollar deficit reduction package (Carl Leubsdorf, 7/13).

San Francisco Chronicle: It's Obama's Problem, Until The Checks Don't Go Out
After racking up bills for two wars, an unfunded Medicare drug benefit and a huge tax cut that undid Ronald Reagan's tax reform, Republicans say that the debt is President Obama's problem. ... And today they are trying to lay the entire responsibility for cutting spending -- their cause celebre -- on the president (Carolyn Lochhead, 7/13). 

Politico: Dems Can Win On Medicare
President Barack Obama's willingness to take on the issue of entitlements generally and address Medicare reform as part of a debt-limit deal should be commended - and should help Democrats. But only if it's focused on three core principles: keeping seniors healthy and in their homes, smartly cracking down on fraud and abuse and avoiding policies that increase spending down the road (Douglas E. Schoen, 7/13).

Kaiser Health News:  Medicaid's Moment (Guest Opinion) 
[W]hile Democrats are effusive in their praise of Medicare, their silence in response to public attacks on Medicaid has been deafening -- during the fight over health reform legislation and since. All the more important, then, is the study released this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, "The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence From The First Year" ... We can improve Medicaid and we should be bold in defending it. Thanks to the Oregon Health Study Group for making the job easier (John E. McDonough, 7/13).

California Healthline: Will 'Most Important Study in Decades' Matter For Reform?
If seeking weapons -- whether mythological or empirical -- perhaps academics should search by bodies of water. King Arthur reportedly pulled his Excalibur from a lake in Wales. Health researchers -- or at least those trying to defend Medicaid -- may have found their own magical sword near Lake Oswego [[Oregon] (Dan Diamond, 7/13).

iWatch News (Center for Public Integrity): Insurance Exchanges Tilted Toward Health Insurers, Not Consumers
Nowhere are consumer groups more dismayed by the Obama administration's proposed [health insurance exchange] rules than in Colorado, where lawmakers passed a bill that explicitly prohibits the state exchange from negotiating with health plans and where the governor and legislators have just packed the exchange board with industry executives and allies (Wendell Potter, 7/14).

Georgia Health News: The Truth Behind The Hospice Numbers
Given the ever-escalating costs of care for those in the last year of life, it's no surprise that Congress, MedPAC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continue to search for ways to curb those costs. What is surprising, and in fact perplexing, is the focus on the one aspect of end-of-life care that we know saves money and improves the quality of those who receive it (J. Donald Schumacher, 7/13). 

Chicago Tribune: Do Not Resuscitate … Do Not Feel Remorse
As doctors and families grapple with how long to prolong life when it's futile, and our health care system struggles to honor families' demands that their loved ones be kept alive "no matter what," I have grief but no remorse that my mother died peacefully without the beeping noises of high-tech medical equipment. Natural causes, we used to call it, when my grandparents passed away. After 96 years of life, my mother's death was indeed "natural" (Candy Schulman, 7/14). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Senate Minority Leader: Minnesota Republicans Must Compromise
Republicans favor an additional $1.4 billion in cuts aimed directly at the things Minnesotans value most. That includes cuts to special-education funding, slashing services for the elderly and disabled, taking health care away from 140,000 Minnesotans and eliminating treatment for vulnerable citizens with severe mental health issues (Tom Bakk, 7/13). 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Thaw Out This Freeze
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is right to ask the federal government to block a state freeze on the Family Care program. The freeze, which is part of the recently passed two-year state budget, needs the blessing of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The department shouldn't give it. The freeze was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker as part of belt-tightening throughout the new budget. ... His concern: expanding the program throughout the state might lead to higher placement of vulnerable individuals in costlier institutions (7/13).

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