KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: The Case For Gov’t Shutdown Over Obamacare; Tea Partiers Vs. GOP ‘Establishment Types’

The Wall Street Journal: The Only Way to Stop ObamaCare Is To Cut Off Its Funding
So the fight to stop ObamaCare now is an urgent matter. Elected leaders in both parties should summon the courage to put their political futures on the line, because the future of America is truly on the line. Politicians who oppose ObamaCare should not vote to fund it. ... a failure of Republicans to show the courage of their convictions on such a fundamental issue will inspire no one and will further alienate the American people from their government. This carries far greater risks to the nation's future than the threat of a government shutdown or the risk of losing the next election (Jim DeMint and Mike Needham, 8/8).

San Francisco Chronicle: Republicans Should Bring It On To Defund Obamacare
Republicans are battling over whether they should make an attempt to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the new national health care law commonly referred to as Obamacare. Tea Partiers want the fight, while the establishment types think it is a futile and damaging effort. There are a lot of reasons this fight makes sense, not to mention the obvious fact that you cannot win a fight if you are not in the ring (Sal Russo, 8/9).

The Washington Post: How Will Republicans Explain Government Shutdown To Constituents? 
It’s easy to rail about Obamacare’s evils inside the safe confines of the conservative media echo chamber. But it may not be so easly for GOP lawmakers to explain to their constituents that they support repealing specific provisions in Obamacare, i.e., the ban on discrimination against preexisting conditions. ... concerned constituents may wonder what meaningful solutions, if any, Republicans do support to fix the health care system (Greg Sargent, 8/8).

Huffington Post: What To Expect On October 1
There is every reason to believe that ... successes will mark the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in several states. ... Observers should keep in mind that when millions of people are applying for coverage, thousands of mistakes are inescapable. They should not lose sight of the fact that many of those mistakes will result from the uncooperative and obstructionist efforts by those who have refused to recognize that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and that law-abiding citizens obey the law (Henry Aaron, 8/7).

USA Today: ObamaCare's Effects Difficult To Measure 
When California announced that individual premiums in its health insurance exchange could be 29% lower than expected, President Obama cheered. When Indiana announced premiums might be 72% higher than before, state officials predicted doom. So who is right? Are health insurance premiums going up or down? We don't know, at least in part, because both sides are playing with the numbers (Dhruv Khullar, 8/8).

The Washington Post's The Root: Mistrust Of Government May Be D.C.’s Biggest Hurdle With New Health-Care Law 
The biggest hurdle facing D.C. officials as the city begins to roll out the first phase of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act might not be finding the District’s uninsured people and convincing them to sign up for health insurance. The stiffest test might be convincing residents that its city government can implement and manage the program (Keith Harriston, 8/8).

Bloomberg: Is Obamacare Forcing You To Work Part-Time?
The law requires employers to sponsor health insurance for all full-time employees. It defines “full-time” as 30 hours per week or more. To avoid that burden, conservatives are saying, businesses are replacing full-time positions with part-time ones. ... I'd like to get rid of the employer mandate entirely. But I also believe in thorough, objective use of data. And they show no evidence of a part-time surge yet. (Evan Soltas, 8/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Rationing Health Care In Oregon
Liberal states often preview health-care central planning before the same regulations go national, which ought to make an Oregon cost-control commission especially scary. On Thursday a state board could change Oregon's Medicaid program to deny costly care to poor patients who need it most. ... Like most such panels, including the Affordable Care Act's Independent Payment Advisory Board, the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission, or HERC, claims to be merely concerned with what supposedly works and what doesn't. Their real targets are usually advanced, costly treatments (Hope Landsem, 8/8).

The Washington Post: 85 Million Americans Lack Dental Coverage. Fixing That Requires More Than Just Money.
[The authors of a new paper] find that the behavioral impact of raising Medicaid reimbursement rates is disappointingly small. Because dentists’ willingness to participate in Medicaid isn’t very sensitive to reimbursement rates, moving Medicaid rates closer to parity with private providers would be somewhat costly, yet would not greatly increase children’s use of dental services (Harold Pollack, 8/8). 

JAMA: Medicare Payment For Chronic Care Delivered In A Patient-Centered Medical Home
Each July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes in the Federal Register its proposals for updating the Medicare physician fee schedule for the upcoming calendar year. ... Although these rules cover a wide range of services, included within the document issued this past July is a little-noticed discussion of Medicare’s intent to make a substantial change in its payment policy. If the rule is finalized as proposed, for the first time physicians would be able to bill Medicare for the non–face-to-face delivery of complex chronic care management services provided by a practice that has the capability to furnish these services (Dr. Andrew B. Bindman, Jonathan D. Blum and Richard Kronick, 8/8).

Kansas City Star: Despite Roadblocks, Some Progress On Health Exchanges In Missouri and Kansas
First, the wishful thinking. If only Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback hadn’t returned a generous federal grant that would have enabled Kansas to set up its own online insurance marketplace for people newly eligible to receive policies and price discounts under the federal Affordable Care Act (8/8).

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