KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Massachusetts’ Health Care Success; Employers Are Key To Curbing Health Costs

The Fiscal Times: The Health Care Story Romney Won't Tell
It's too bad former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney doesn't want to talk about his state's health care reform legislation on the campaign trail. If he did, he'd have a pretty good story to tell. The reform plan, which President Obama used as a model for the national reform, lifted the number of insured residents in the Bay State from 86.6 percent in 2006 to 94.2 percent in 2010, according to a new study published today by Health Affairs (Merrill Goozner, 1/25).

The Wall Street Journal: With Friends Like Romney's
Mitt Romney claims to favor repealing ObamaCare, full stop, which he says to all and sundry, but one of his campaign advisers has a better idea. To wit, Norm Coleman seems to think a Republican majority should bow to the status quo, fuss around the edges of the newest entitlement, and then try to convince the voters who elected them on promises like Mr. Romney's that it's the best they could do. ... [If Mr. Romney's] real ObamaCare convictions are akin to Mr. Coleman's—if Republicans ought to "repeal the bad and keep the good," as Mr. Romney once put it in 2010—then voters should know that now, before he becomes the nominee (1/26). 

New England Journal of Medicine: Why Now Is Not The Time For Premium Support
Although it's true that Medicare is a key driver of long-term federal spending, we don't believe that recently proposed premium-support reforms are the solution. They lack safeguards for beneficiaries. They threaten to shift costs to the elderly and disabled and force them to shop for coverage in a confusing insurance market. ... Serious efforts to control the growth in Medicare expenditures should begin with resolute implementation of the ACA (Henry J. Aaron and Austin B. Frakt, 1/25).

New England Journal of Medicine: The Wyden–Ryan Proposal — A Foundation for Realistic Medicare Reform
Under the Wyden–Ryan proposal, seniors would have a choice of private plans competing alongside traditional fee-for-service Medicare. All plans, including traditional Medicare, would bid against each other, with premiums based on the plan's cost of providing the full package of Medicare-covered services. ... The Wyden–Ryan proposal outlines a strategy for Medicare reform that harnesses market forces to control costs. It provides a real alternative to the top-down controls favored in the ACA (Joseph R. Antos, 1/25).

Bloomberg: It Takes A CEO To Save The U.S. Health-Care System
The real battle for the future of health care is being fought in the world of business, where tens of thousands of companies have seen their financial well-being undermined by skyrocketing employee health costs. ... Yet most chief executive officers are curiously passive, failing to employ even the most basic management tools and market incentives to deal with the problem. Employees and employers alike -- but first and foremost the boss -- need to be held accountable for reducing the cost burden that is damaging so many companies’ bottom lines (Darrell Moon, 1/25).

The Miami Herald: Medicaid Growth Will Bankrupt State (letter)
Under the current system, a hospital receives money based on the Medicaid reimbursement rate for one day of care, regardless of what care is provided. So taxpayers pay the same amount whether a person is treated for a relatively minor injury, such as a sprained ankle, or for a major medical emergency, such as a heart attack. Our goal is to eventually move toward a payment system where the reimbursement cost reflects the care the patient receives (Liz Dudek, 1/25).

New England Journal of Medicine: Assessing Supplement Safety — The FDA's Controversial Proposal 
By insisting on scientific evidence to demonstrate the expectation of safety, the FDA will not only improve the safety of new supplements but also create a database of evidence that scientists, physicians, regulators, and consumers can tap to help make informed decisions (Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, 1/25).

Roll Call: School-Based Health Centers Play A Vital Role
The American Diabetes Association estimates that one in six children are pre-diabetic, making school-based health centers the ideal location to find and evaluate those at risk. School-based health centers are a cost-effective investment, proven to reduce inappropriate emergency room use, increase use of primary care and reduce hospitalization rates, particularly for hard-to-reach populations. But limited funding makes it more difficult for school-based health centers to reach patients (Linda Juszczak, 1/26).

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