KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Ryan On ‘Shared Scarcity’; Romney Fallout; Baltimore’s Ambitious Health Plan

Chicago Tribune: The Debate We All Deserve 
Too many in Washington remain fixated on the next election, at the expense of the next generation. But there is a hidden cost to the shared scarcity mentality - a cost measured in lost prosperity and lost freedom. We face a choice between two futures. We can continue to go down the path toward shared scarcity, or we can choose the path of renewed prosperity (Rep. Paul Ryan, 5/16). 

The Washington Post: Where President Obama And Rep. Ryan Intersect On Health Care
There is no silver bullet to controlling health-care costs, whether in public programs such as Medicare or in the private market. But two useful tools are leveraging the forces of competition among providers and making certain that consumers bear some of the cost of the health care they consume. Democrats relied on these principles in crafting last year's health-care bill, eliciting Republican jeers. House Republicans have included them in their Medicare reform plan - where they are jeered with equal ferocity by Democrats (5/14).

The Washington Post: The Elderly Are Better Off Than Advertised
I have been urging higher eligibility ages and more means-testing for Social Security and Medicare for so long that I forget that many Americans still accept the outdated and propagandistic notion that old age automatically impoverishes people. ... People do not lose their obligations to the larger society by turning 65. We need to refocus these programs on their original purposes. ... Medicare provides peace of mind as well as health insurance; wealthier recipients can afford to pay more for their peace of mind (Robert Samuelson, 5/15). 

Kaiser Health News: Newt And The Health Wonks: A Tale Of Lust And Power (Guest Opinion)
As it happens, a former colleague of Newt's on that long-ago advisory council is now one of the Obama administration's most prominent health care bureaucrats, Dr. Donald Berwick. ... in his book he praises Berwick's quality improvement work. But today's Old Newt told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that Berwick's appointment as head of the Medicare program was just another example of Obama's "secular Socialist machine" (Michael L. Millenson, 5/13). 

The Denver Post: Editorial: Mitt Can't Win On Health Care 
The problem for (former Mass. Gov. Mitt) Romney is that his signature health-care reform so closely resembles the plan passed by the man he wants to replace and repeal. ... they both have the individual mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance or pay a fine. Romney defends the mandate this way: "We told people either pay for your insurance or we're going to charge you for the fact that the state will have to pay for your care." For those who favor the mandate, it was as if Romney had spoken magic words. But the magic didn't seem to convert many Republicans (5/16). 

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney's Preemptive Strike
Without wading into the weeds of health-care reform, one can find significant differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. Chief among those differences: One is a massive federal program that lacks cost controls and requires a vast bureaucracy to operate; the other is a more modest plan that constitutes less than 1 percent of the state budget. ... what Romney did in Massachusetts is entirely defensible. It was an experiment; it was bold; it was imperfect (Kathleen Parker, 5/14). 

The San Francisco Chronicle: New Hope Against HIV/AIDS
A silver bullet to defeat HIV/AIDS still doesn't exist, but the world is getting closer. An international study released this week found that transmission of the virus can be nearly eliminated if patients are simply given drug therapy as early as possible. … Early treatment offers enormous returns for patients' health and productivity, and now, it appears, that benefit extends to their partners as well. It doesn't come cheaper than that (5/14). 

The Baltimore Sun: Better Health By 2015
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot unveiled an ambitious initiative this week aimed at improving the overall health of Baltimore citizens by 2015. It sets practical goals for reducing the most serious health risks and acknowledges that achieving them will take the combined efforts of the city's hospitals, schools, social services agencies, foundations and private businesses. If it works, it will be a major achievement for Ms. Barbot, who arrived in Baltimore a year ago. But the plan is maddeningly short on details about how such a complex collaboration (5/14).

The Arizona Republic: Some Transplant Patients Can't Breathe a Sigh Of Relief
Savannah [Wood] is 24 years old. She has cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant. ... And after running out of money and insurance, she wound up on the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program. ... Wood was not among the 98 patients who were on the AHCCCS organ-transplant list when Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature cut off funding for the surgeries (E.J. Montini, 5/15).

Seattle Times: Legislature Should Suspend Health-Care Worker Training Measure
In 2008 this page opposed Initiative 1029. This measure, written and promoted by the Service Employees International Union, requires all new home-health adult family home workers to take about 45 hours more of training than the 30 they already take, and pass a state test. We said the bill was inflexible and would cause problems - and it has. For workers paid with state money, the bill requires the state to pay for training. In her budget proposal, Gov. Chris Gregoire left out the $29 million extra this would cost. Legislators put back $5 million - money the state has to take by making deeper cuts in other programs (5/13). 

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