KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Shutting Down The Government Over Health Law Is ‘Nutty’ Idea; GOP’s Obamacare Playbook For Summer Recess

The Washington Post: How Fractured Is The GOP?
Led by Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, the GOP insurgents are threatening to shut down the government on Oct. 1 if the stopgap funding bill contains money for Obamacare. This is nuts. The president will never sign a bill defunding the singular achievement of his presidency. Especially when he has control of the Senate. Especially when, though a narrow 51 percent majority of Americans disapproves of Obamacare, only 36 percent favors repeal. President Obama so knows he’ll win any shutdown showdown that he's practically goading the Republicans into trying. ...  Every fiscal showdown has redounded against the Republicans (Charles Krauthammer, 8/1). 

The Washington Post: Ted Cruz's Threat Of Government Shut Down Recalls Custer
At its birth, the Affordable Care Act already seems gray, wheezing and gouty. For all its expressions of confidence, the Obama administration has been unable to implement key elements of the law. ... But there are a few bold, determined public officials who may rescue Obamacare. Among them are Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). This is not, of course, their intention. They hate the law but have chosen to fight it in a particularly counterproductive way, which discredits responsible opposition and makes a Democratic takeover of the House more likely (Michael Gerson, 8/1). 

The Washington Post: The Party Of (Nutty) Ideas
It's not your imagination. The Republican Party really does seem to have taken leave of its senses. The House GOP majority has decided that its final act before the summer recess will be to take its 40th vote to repeal all or part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. ... Amazingly, this pointless exercise in the House makes more sense than what Republicans are doing in the Senate. There, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his tea party-backed allies are threatening to shut down the whole government to strip Obamacare of all funding (Eugene Robinson, 8/1).

The New York Times: Saboteurs In The Potato Salad
[House Republicans] even have a master plan, a 31-page kit put together by the House Republican Conference, for every member to follow while back home [on summer recess] with the folks. ... Here's a sample suggestion, from Page 28, of how to stage a phony public meeting with business owners: "Confirm the theme(s) prior to the event and make sure the participants will be 100 percent on message. (Note: while they do not have to be Republicans, they need to be able to discuss the negative effects of Obamacare on their employees.)" And what if I have a child with cancer, and the insurance company plans to dump him if Republicans stop Obamacare in its tracks? Can I attend? Or what if I'm counting on buying into the new health care exchanges in my state, saving hundreds of dollars on my insurance bill? The kit has an answer: planting supporters, with prescreened softball questions, will ensure that such things never get asked (Timothy Egan, 8/1).

Los Angeles Times: 'Death Panels' Done Right
Among the most egregious distortions to cloud the health care debate in 2009 was the false notion that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act called for "death panels," through which the government would determine whether seniors and the disabled should receive care. So dishonest was this characterization, popularized by Alaska's then-Gov. Sarah Palin, that PolitiFact named it the "Lie of the Year." In truth, one of the provisions of the act that gave rise to Palin's critique would have done just the opposite: help patients make their own decisions about their treatment at the end of life (8/1).

The New Republic: Six Reasons Hipsters Will Bite On Obamacare
You're a 26-year-old single dude, holding down a pair of part-time jobs tending bar and painting houses, and making about $24,000 a year. Thanks to Obamacare, you can finally get decent health insurance, just like people with full-time jobs at large companies do. But when you go online to check out your options, you see that even the cheapest "bronze" plan, which has high deductibles and co-payments, will cost you about $100 a month. Obamacare's penalty for carrying no insurance next year is less than one-tenth of that. Do you buy the insurance anyway? ... But there [are] good reasons to think the critics are wrong, that young people will sign up for health insurance, and that Obamacare will work as its designers intended. Here are six of those reasons (Jonathan Cohn, 8/1).  

The New York Times Economix blog: The Sleeper In Health Care Payment Reform
In the arsenal now being assembled on the payment side of health care to address rising costs, reference pricing may well turn out to be the sleeper, because it is a potentially powerful method of "putting the patient's skin in the game," the delicate phrase we use for "cost-sharing by patients." As it is able to shift significant market power from the supply side to the payment side of the health sector, reference pricing is much feared by the providers -- physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and others (Uwe E. Reinhardt, 8/2). 

The Lund Report: Don't Let A Federal Board Override The Doctor-Patient Relationship
Imagine being told by your family doctor that the treatment she recommends is available, but not to you, because the federal government had decided its medical judgment is better than your doctor's. As Oregon and other states begin to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known by many as Obamacare, much of the focus has been on the changes to insurance plans (Dr. Frank Palmrose, 8/1).

Boston Globe: You've Got Mail: Someone's Else's Medical Test Results
The first e-mail came at the end of June. It was from a doctor's office in another state -- a large cardiology group. The note listed the name of a test. It listed the full name of the patient. It listed the full name of the doctor who treated that patient. It said the test was normal and provided a number that I could call for more information. Presumably, this was supposed to be good news. But it was someone else's test result. ... Recently, though, I've noticed a new kind of misrouted e-mails that seem less trivial than some of the other unwelcome missives that show up in my inbox. These are notes or test results from other people's doctor's offices. The security of health information in the digital age is a big concern (Carolyn Johnson, 8/1). 

Des Moines Register: Iowa View: Webcam Abortions Have Nothing To Do With Health
According to the Food and Drug Administration, 2,207 women have been injured by this human abortion cocktail, known as mifepristone (or RU-486), and 14 have died from it. Here in Iowa, the RU-486 human abortion pills are being remotely dispensed by the thousands via a "telemed abortion" scheme approved by the Iowa Board of Medicine three years ago. The current board has revisited this approach to human abortion, which allows these toxic pills to be dispensed without a doctor present. They are calling for an end to telemed abortions, also called webcam abortions. The board deserves our support (Tom Quiner, 8/2).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.