KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Medicare Controversy Continues To Raise Outrage, Prescriptions, Vivid Prose

Politico: Our Ailing Health Care
The key to any reform is tackling the whole problem, not just one piece - like health care spending by the federal government, for example, or even the public sector as a whole. Unless spending on health care is curbed systemwide, federal reforms run the risk of just shifting skyrocketing costs to those least able to handle this added burden (Ralph G. Neas, 5/27).

The New York Times: Medicare And Medicscares
Mr. Ryan may claim - and he may even believe - that he's facing a backlash because his opponents are lying about his proposals. But the reality is that the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan's critics are lying about it, but because they're describing it accurately (Paul Krugman, 5/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Mediscare: The Surprising Truth
In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend (Thomas R. Saving and John C. Goodman, 5/27).

The New York Times: Medicare Survival Guide
Already many consultants are telling Republicans to drop austerity and go back on offense: Spend 2012 accusing the Democrats of sponsoring death panels. The Democrats will spend 2012 accusing Republicans of ending Medicare. Whichever party demagogues best wins. But … I've spoken with a number of Republicans - in Congress and elsewhere - who don't want to do that. They fervently believe the country is in peril. They want to find a way to reduce the debt without committing political suicide (David Brooks, 5/26).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Medicare Solution Stare Us In The Face, And We Glower Back 
This month, Medicare's trustees projected that the insurance program would become insolvent by 2024, five years earlier than previously estimated. Much has been said about the growing gap between the program's spending and revenues - a gap that will widen as baby boomers retire. But little attention has been focused on a problem staring us in the face: Medicare spends a fortune each year on procedures that have no proven benefit and should not be covered (Rita F. Redberg, 5/26).

The Boston Globe: Thanks To Ryan, Some Focus
Give House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan some credit. His long-term spending framework has offered the public a stark look at the choices this country faces, helping clarify an often-foggy fiscal debate. ... And yet, Republicans have engaged in a notable misrepresentation of their own by portraying the Medicare changes as the necessary result of a courageous attempt to tackle the deficit (Scot Lehigh, 5/27).

McClatchy / The Kansas City Star: Newt Gingrich's Political Suicide
The House Republicans' decision to take on entitlements now, rather than wait to fight it out after winning back the presidency, was always a very risky gamble. But who would have predicted that the Democratic position would get its biggest boost from a former Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich? ... Gingrich's flame-out could be a good thing. The outraged reaction among Republicans shows that the party remains committed to principled, market-based reforms to deal with the budget crisis (E. Thomas McClanahan, 5/26).

Seattle Times: GOP Learns Access To Health Care Crosses Political Boundaries
Does Tuesday's outcome in New York's 26th District really count as a referendum on Medicare or health care reform? At least for a news cycle, but the serious work of getting health care to millions of Americans is happening elsewhere, notably Olympia. .... Washington [state] leads the nation with responsive, innovative legislation, which puts the state in line for more federal grants to make it all happen by the 2014 deadline (Lance Dickie, 5/26). 

Health Policy Solutions (Colorado health news): Opinion: Ryan Budget Plan And The Impact On Medicaid In Colorado
In an earlier column, we discussed the Ryan budget plan and its broader implications for health care and the Affordable Care Act. Here, we focus on Colorado and its potential impact on Medicaid. ... The bottom line is that vulnerable people who can't afford insurance coverage will pay for it with their health, and people who are insured and businesses that cover their employees will pick up additional costs in the most expensive way possible – emergency room care. Strategies like these don't solve problems they just pass them on (Bob Semro, 5/26).

The Sacramento Bee: Big Hurdles Remain To Fix Medical Parole
Here's an indicator of the serious dysfunction in the California prison system. One day after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state to reduce its prison population from 143,400 to 110,000, the Board of Parole Hearings denied medical parole for a quadriplegic. … Other states manage to make medical parole work. For example, Texas every year places 100 to 170 inmates on medical parole. ... Legislators may need to fix the law to make medical parole possible (5/27).

Healthy California (news service): Gays, Lesbians Suffer Health Disparities
Too often [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] patients receive substandard treatment from medical staff – or skip care altogether, fearing judgment, ignorant questions, blank stares and irrelevant recommendations. The answer is health professionals who are more knowledgeable about and sensitive to the specific needs of LGBT patients (Sue LaVaccare, 5/26).

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