KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Pessimism On Partisan Debt Dealings; Supporting Community Clinics; ‘Mystery Shopper’ Should Go Forward

The Wall Street Journal: The Road To A Downgrade
FDR began the entitlement era with the New Deal and Social Security, but for decades it remained relatively limited. … That changed in the mid-1960s with LBJ's Great Society and the dawn of the health-care state. Medicare and Medicaid were launched in 1965 with fairy tale estimates of future costs. Medicare, the program for the elderly, was supposed to cost $12 billion by 1990 but instead spent $110 billion. ... We suspect that in the 1960s as now-with ObamaCare-liberals knew they had created fiscal time-bombs. They simply assumed that taxes would keep rising to pay for it all, as they have in Europe (7/28).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Facing Facts On All Sides Will Help Fix U.S. Debt 
Federal spending is up from 19.6 percent of GDP to nearly 26 percent. This is mostly caused by additional regulatory costs, newly legislated additions to Medicare and Medicaid benefits and rising health care prices accelerated by "health care reforms" championed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats (Peter Morici, 7/27). 

Los Angeles Times: The Political Angle Of The Debt-Ceiling Debate
Both plans represent a victory for conservative Republicans. They've won the debate over whether we need to focus immediately on reducing the deficit and the debt.  ... They are slowly winning the debate over putting cuts in future Medicare and Social Security benefits on the table (Doyle McManus, 7/28). 

Chicago Tribune: America's Jericho Moment 
Above all, curtailing deficits means limiting the big entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. S&P and the other major rating agencies accept as fact what millions of stubborn Americans will not: Either the boundless generosity of these programs must constrict, or the tax rates that support them must rapidly accelerate (7/28). 

Dallas Morning News: Health Care Compact Overrides 'One Size Fits All' Approach
Today we see a great deal of mistrust in our government. The issue of statesmanship is often sacrificed during debates when it's more important to score points than to really solve problems. This is particularly true in emotional debates over health care (State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, 7/27). 

Kaiser Health News: Washington's Rebate Tax Would Be Paid By Seniors (Guest Opinion)
The [prescription drug] rebate plan is not a way to cut government spending but is simply a ploy to shift higher costs to seniors. Congress should look elsewhere for real savings rather than resorting to gimmicks that will trick seniors into paying the bill (Grace-Marie Turner, 7/27). 

iWatch News: A Smart Investment In Kids' Health
If opponents of health care reform could view the grant money in the Affordable Care Act as an investment in our children rather than wasteful spending, I believe at least some of them would eventually accept that we're better off with the law than without it. I'd be especially confident if they took the time to visit some of the community facilities that will be able to meet the health care needs of thousands more Americans as a result of those grants (Wendell Potter, 7/28) .

Earlier, related from KHN: Health Law Bolsters Funding For In-School Clinics (Andrews, 7/12)

New England Journal of Medicine: Taking the Mystery out of "Mystery Shopper" Studies
When the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced plans for a "mystery shopper" study of access to primary care - using an essentially deceptive research study design in which researchers would pose as prospective patients calling primary care practices to schedule appointments - it sparked an immediate outcry among a vocal subgroup of physicians who objected to the covert nature of the work. The DHHS quickly backtracked and placed the initiative on indefinite hold. This decision is unfortunate, because the study was intended to generate valid national estimates of primary care capacity before the anticipated expansion of private and public insurance to as many as 38 million currently uninsured Americans (Dr. Karin Rhodes, 7/27).
 
New England Journal of Medicine: Reforming The Regulations Governing Research With Human Subjects
In the wake of the scandal surrounding the Tuskegee syphilis study, Congress established the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. ... The goal of this [Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] is to delineate options for simultaneously enhancing protections for research subjects and improving the effectiveness of the federal oversight system. A key purpose is to better focus oversight resources on higher-risk research studies (Drs. Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Jerry Menikoff 7/25).

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