KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Health Law’s Marketing Challenge; GOP Not To Blame For Implementation Challenges

The Wall Street Journal's Capital Journal: Obamacare's Challenge: A Skeptical Public
More than half of working-class whites say [the federal health law] is a bad idea. Perhaps most stunningly, so do 48% of those currently without health insurance—the very people who stand to gain the most, in the form of help finding and paying for coverage. Meanwhile, by a 30-point margin, political independents think they will be worse off under the law. Let's just say the Obama administration has some marketing work to do. That is the backdrop Democrats face heading into a fall in which the big health overhaul begins kicking in (Gerald F. Seib, 8/5). 

USA Today: Excuse Me? GOP To Blame For Obamacare?
The Affordable Care Act— aka Obamacare— is off to a very rocky start, and according to the law's biggest defenders, the blame falls squarely at the feet of Republicans. It's an odd claim. Republicans did not write the law. They did not support the law. And they are not in charge of implementing it. Yet, it's got to be the GOP's fault, right? (Jonah Goldberg, 8/5). 

Bloomberg: Republicans Don’t Need To Sabotage Obamacare
David Morgan, who reports on health care at Reuters, could teach a class on how to spin a story. The Obama administration, he tells us in the lead of a recent article, is "poised for a huge public education campaign" about the health-care law. Opponents, however, aren’t "educating people" when they argue that the law is flawed. No, they’re engaged in "political maneuvers," following a "political playbook" and trying out "ploys" (Ramesh Ponnuru, 8/6). 

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare's Not-So-Special Treatment For Congress
The [Wall Street] Journal's fusillade was prompted by the Obama administration's effort to keep congressional staff members from being hurt by a pernicious feature of the 2010 law. Added by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa during the Senate Finance Committee's mark-up, the provision requires members of Congress and their staff to obtain health insurance through the new exchanges established by the law. To the Journal, this is the sort of eat-your-own-dog-food requirement that forces lawmakers to experience what they impose on their constituents (Jon Healey, 8/5).

The Washington Post: For A Stiff Neck, Nearly $6,000 In Physical Therapy Seemed Too Much
When I showed up for my appointment, the front-desk clan was positively giddy with the news that my insurance plan would cover up to 12 physical therapy visits per quarter. And because it was the middle of June, they urged me to book 11 more sessions right away to take full advantage of my coverage this quarter. My only cost would be a $10 co-pay each time. I found it odd that the front-desk folks wanted me to book 11 more sessions before their therapist had even seen me. I said I would let them know (Chris Core, 8/5). 

Politico: Bipartisan Health Reform That Works
The debate over health-care policy has become so polarized that it's hard to see how progress on any new reforms can be possible. But here’s a health-care reform that can attract bipartisan support: transparency in price and quality information (Lanhee Chen and Topher Spiro, 8/5).

Governing: Feds Offer States Deal To Seal Medicaid HIV-Testing Holes
Though routine HIV screenings are recommended by America’s foremost public health authorities and tens of thousands of people are living in the United States with undiagnosed HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of state Medicaid programs don't cover preventive testing. ... Part of the problem is that the public health sphere only recently came to the consensus that routine screens should be the norm. The CDC has recommended coverage of routine testing since 2006, but another critical player—the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—didn’t recommend routine screenings until this April. The task force's recommendations serve as a benchmark for insurers, including Medicaid, as they decide what to cover (Dylan Scott, 8/5).

Madison (Wis.) Capitol Times: Let Counties Accept New Medicaid Funds
Locally elected officials from 20 counties across Wisconsin wrote to the Department of Health Services proposing an alternative local means for accepting our federal Medicaid funds. The letter called on DHS Secretary Kitty Rhodes to request a demonstration pilot project in Wisconsin that would allow interested counties the opportunity to access these federal enhanced Medicaid funds in order to fully benefit from our federal tax dollars and directly help our citizens. This proposal was modeled after Cuyahoga County in Ohio, which received a federal waiver to receive funds through the federal Medicaid expansion (State Rep. Melissa Sargent, 8/5).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: U.S. Health Care System Must Be World’s Least Efficient
If we can set aside just for a moment the divisive debate over the pros and cons of Obamacare, the more fundamental issue is not how we pay for health care in this country, but rather how much we pay. How is it possible for other Western industrialized nations to provide care of similar or better quality, but for a mere fraction of the cost here? How does Belgium install eight or 10 rip replacements for the cost of one such replacement here in the United States? (Jay Bookman, 8/5).

Chicago Sun-Times: Government Shutdown Is No Cure For Obamacare
Health care in America has long cost too much and delivered too little. Some anti-Obamacare Republicans in Congress seem to think that's an applause line. In a move even some of their own party leaders are calling dumb, members of the Tea Party wing are threatening to shut down the government after Sept. 30 unless Democrats agree to strip out all funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (8/5).

Los Angeles Times: My Melonoma, My Message
This summer, the FDA is considering new regulations for tanning beds. Currently they are regulated by the FDA as Class I medical devices, the same designation given Band-Aids and tongue depressors. Under the proposed regulations, tanning beds would have to add labels warning young people not to use them and to encourage those who do to undergo skin cancer screening. In addition, suppliers of tanning bed products would be required to demonstrate to the FDA that the electrical systems are safe, the lamps emit the right amount of energy and timers are working properly. ... people have to understand that there is no such thing as a healthy tan, particularly one that comes from a tanning bed (Travis Kidner, 8/5). 

JAMA: Who Is Now Responsible for Discovering And Warning About Adverse Effects Of Generic Drugs?
Manufacturers of brand-name and generic drugs now face different legal responsibilities for warning about the risks of what are the same drugs. Brand-name manufacturers must closely monitor the safety of their products after approval and update the adverse effects sections of their labels as necessary or else be subject to pay substantial damages based on liability to injured patients. By contrast, generic manufacturers do not face such liability. Thus, once a brand-name company’s exclusivity ends and its market share declines, or it stops production altogether, active pharmacovigilance is likely to end, reducing the chance of discovering rare or delayed adverse effects later in a drug’s market life that could vitally inform prescribing practice or change a product’s risk-benefit assessment (Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, Michael D. Green and Dr. Jerry Avorn, 8/5).

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