KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Snappy Headlines, Prose On Romney And Medicare Dominate Today’s Opinions And Editorials

USA Today: Our View: Romney's Vow To Dismantle 'ObamaCare' Rings Hollow
The first question he got from the audience after his speech Thursday was the right one: What's to prevent states from a "race to the bottom," where they cut their costs by slashing spending on health care? Romney had no good answer beyond a vague assertion that Americans are a "generous people" who would not deny health coverage to their fellow citizens. ... Here's another good question: Does the nation really need 50 health care systems? Is a heart attack in Texas that different from one in Maine? (5/12).

USA Today: Opposing View: Give States More Freedom
Romney's new proposal moves us in the right direction. It strengthens health-savings accounts, so individuals can control their own health dollars. It enacts malpractice reform, so doctors don't waste money protecting themselves from unnecessary lawsuits. It improves the tax code so that employees can buy insurance for themselves, rather than through their employers. ... More important, Romney promises to grant waivers from Medicaid and ObamaCare to every state (Avik Roy, 5/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney's Daredevil Act
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." If we may judge by his health-care speech at the University of Michigan yesterday, Mitt Romney is a very smart man. ...  Mr. Romney privately says he doesn't want to reinforce the rap he had in 2008 that he had reinvented himself too often. As a political matter, however, we think it's better to change positions than to try to defend the intellectually indefensible (5/13). 

The New York Times: Mitt Romney In A Time Warp
There was something almost quaint about Mitt Romney's speech on health care Thursday, as if we were watching early sound footage of Theodore Roosevelt. Republicans no longer talk about the virtues of government social programs, especially if they intend to run for president in a party that now considers Medicare the first cousin of socialism. Yet there was Mr. Romney defending a mandate to buy health insurance as passionately as in any similar speech by President Obama (5/12).

The Washington Post: The Medical Mystery Of Mitt Romney
From China this week came the rare news that twin girls had been born with a single body and two heads. Here in America, though, we have an even more unusual case: Two people conjoined in the body of a 64-year-old man. His name is Mitt Romney. One head of Romney defends his health-care reform in Massachusetts, the model for President Obama's version. … The other head of Romney denounces Obama's health-care reform as a "power grab," a "government takeover of health care" and an "economic nightmare" (Dana Milbank, 5/12).

National Journal: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
[B]oth sides are taking a political risk when dealing with entitlement programs, and that Republicans can play offense on the issue even as they face Democratic criticism over Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal. ... Even as any politician who takes up entitlement reform gets plaudits from opinion pages, they're opening themselves up to a 30-second assault from the other (Reid Wilson, 5/12). 

The Hill: Holding The President Accountable To Commitments Made Over Medicare Discussions
House Republicans have put forward what President Obama called a "serious proposal" to deal with Medicare spending, which will save necessary entitlement programs for current seniors, as well as our children and grandchildren. ...House Freshmen asked the President to stand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with this Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs. It's one thing to disagree on the facts of proposals, however, demagogue attacks from the President's own administration such as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who claims seniors will "die sooner" under Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 Budget are nothing more than scare tactics (Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, 5/12).

The Washington Post: Demagoguery 101
"I'm going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues." - Barack Obama, speech on immigration, El Paso, May?10.  Constructive and civil debate - like the one Obama initiated just four weeks ago on deficit reduction? The speech in which he accused the Republicans of abandoning families of autistic and Down syndrome kids? The debate in which Obama's secretary of health and human services said that the Republican Medicare plan would make old folks "die sooner"? (Charles Krauthammer, 5/12).

The New York Times: Seniors, Guns And Money 
[H]ere's the quick-and-dirty summary of what the federal government does: It's a giant insurance company, mainly serving older people, that also has an army. The great bulk of federal spending that isn't either defense-related or interest on the debt goes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The first two programs specifically serve seniors. And while Medicaid is often thought of as a poverty program, these days it's largely about providing nursing care, with about two-thirds of its spending now going to the elderly and/or disabled. By my rough count, in 2007, seniors accounted, one way or another, for about half of federal spending (Paul Krugman, 5/12). 

The Connecticut Mirror: For Women's Health Week, Promote Awareness Of Federal Health Law
Here are four things about the law all women should know: First, pre-existing conditions will no longer keep you from getting affordable private insurance. ... being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in the insurance market. ... A third key change is that it's easier to get preventive care. ... Now, anyone who joins a new health plan will be able to get key preventive care from Pap smears to mammograms without paying a co-pay or deductible. ... the fourth thing women should know is that Medicare is getting stronger. (Kathleen Sebelius, 5/12). 

The Miami Herald: Message From Nurses: We Are Here
Today, in spite of enormous financial struggles and constant media attention, Jackson nurses "are here." ... Every year, in honor of 3.1 million registered nurses in the United States, the American Nurses Association celebrates National Nurses Week during the week of May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale - the founder of nursing as a modern profession. ... Nurses have been voted "the most trusted healthcare professionals" for 11 years according to the annual Gallup survey (Leah Kinnaird, 5/12).

The Kansas City Star: 'Ruined' Health Industry Is Making Massive Profits
According to Forbes, America's highest paid chief executive officer hails from the industry that President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are roundly accused of trying to destroy - health insurance. Meet Stephen J. Hemsley, CEO of UnitedHealth Group. He is 58 years old with a one-year compensation package of almost $102 million, Forbes
reports. And he has $111 million in company stock (Barbara Shelly, 5/12).  

Des Moines Register: Abortion Fight Show Hypocrisy In 'Jobs Creation'
There is a business that wants to move from Nebraska to Iowa. It would bring some high-paying jobs to our state. Based on how these things typically work, state officials would fall all over themselves, offering tax breaks or forgiveable loans or both to seal the deal. ... But this time, lawmakers are doing everything they can, including the use of twisted logic, to keep this business out of Iowa. That's because this particular business belongs to Nebraska physician LeRoy Carhart, who performs so-called "late term" abortions. He wants to open a clinic in Council Bluffs. Lawmakers can't see past the controversy to recognize that he provides a legal medical service and would employ trained medical personnel who would pay taxes (5/12).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Impact Of Race
It will take a communitywide effort to combat the infant mortality crisis, and community leaders should pay special attention to the impact that the stress of racism can have on poor birth outcomes. In some areas of Milwaukee, the chances that a black infant will celebrate his or her first birthday are less than that of babies in developing countries (5/12). 

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