KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: GOP Should Focus On Fixing Health Law; Bishops Refuse To Accept Victory

Los Angeles Times: It's Time To Focus On Fixing The Affordable Care Act, Not Gutting It
Conservatives have married their political fortunes to the notion that Obamacare is a catastrophe and must be discarded in its entirety — even though some of the signature elements of the law, such as a requirement that most people be insured, are ideas that they originated. "There's plenty of blame to go around for what's wrong with the law," said Mark Pauly, a healthcare economist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "What we need now is an informed debate about how it can be made better." And that's precisely what we're not getting (David Lazarus, 7/11).

The New York Times: G.O.P. Still Trying To Stop Health Care Reform
Just because there is no sign of actual governing arising from Congress, it doesn't mean that the right-wing dominated House Republican Caucus is just sitting around doing nothing. To the contrary, in addition to plotting the demise of the first real chance at immigration reform in decades, House G.O.P. leaders are thinking of new ways to continue their long-running show of trying to stop health care reform from taking effect (Andrew Rosenthal, 7/11).

The Washington Post: The Catholic Health Association V. The Bishops V. Obama
Last week, the Obama administration published its final guidelines for contraception coverage by insurers, putting what should be closure on years of back-and-forth debates with the Catholic bishops. ... the Catholic Health Association, which represents the country's largest group of nonprofit health care providers, found the compromises to be considerably accommodating to the religious liberty of religious hospitals, and endorsed the policy this week. Sadly, the predictable answer from Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori, was "not good enough." Like the tea party faction in Congress, anything Obama is for, these prelates are against. They refuse to accept victory in order to keep fighting with President Obama (Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, 7/11).  

The Wall Street Journal: Connecticut And ObamaCare
Connecticut appears to be yet another state that will stumble its way into ObamaCare. It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Nutmeg State, run by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and a heavily Democratic legislature, was one of the first to sign up to run its own health-care exchange and has received more than $150 million in federal grants to do so. But as the Oct. 1 start date approaches, projections are not cheery. "It's going to be rocky in this first year," said Kevin Counihan last month at a board meeting of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. "This is not simple. It's highly complex. It's unprecedented, and it's not going to be smooth" (Harry Graver, 7/11). 

USA Today: Get Obamacare, While Supplies Last
On Oct. 1, the uninsured can start signing up for coverage under ObamaCare. But should every policy be sold with an asterisk: Guaranteed access to care ... while supplies last? Maybe. The unpleasant truth is that we don't have enough doctors to offer quality care to a growing number of Americans, never mind the nearly 30 million uninsured who'll begin to gain coverage under ObamaCare starting in 2014 (Paul Howard, 7/11).

The Baltimore Sun: How Do Liberals Hate NSA Intrusion But Love Obamacare?
Self-proclaimed civil libertarians are up in arms over the National Security Agency's massive database containing information about whom we call and what we do on the Web. Defenders of the program say, "So what?" Unless you're a terrorist, no one in the government will ever bother to access that information. That's not good enough, say civil libertarians (Jonah Goldberg, 7/12).

Bloomberg: How Republicans Can Exploit Obamacare
Republicans have responded to the delay of an important component of President Barack Obama’s health-care reform by escalating their attacks. Here's a suggestion: Instead of trying to wreck the law, focus on using it to prove the superiority of conservative principles (7/11).

JAMA: Are Officials Who Predict Health Reform Doom And Gloom Sowing A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy?
As 2014 approaches, the health policy community is focused on implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) main coverage provisions: the opening of health insurance exchanges, related reforms of the individual market, and the Medicaid expansion that states can choose to adopt or reject. … Although all these questions are important, politics may play a particularly significant role in state cooperation, which, itself, has implications for some of the other issues (Austin Frakt, 7/11).

And, in opinions on other subjects --

The New York Times: My Life, Post Exposure
I grew up in a Modern Orthodox Jewish family in New Jersey, where my "sex talk," at 13, came in the form of my mother handing me a book of anatomical comics. Inside it, she placed post-it notes to indicate her feelings. In the masturbation section: "God does not approve of this." In the gay sex section: "Definitely not." When I came out at 18, I had to learn everything on my own. Last year, as a 21-year-old college student, I got my hardest lesson (Isaac Lobel, 7/11). 

The Washington Post: An AIDS-Free Generation Is Closer Than We Might Think
Because of the extraordinary progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we can now consider a question that just a few years ago seemed far-fetched. No longer is it whether we can achieve an AIDS-free generation. Now, the question is: How long will it take and will it be sustained? Vaccines historically have played an important role in the control and even elimination of global health scourges such as smallpox, polio and measles. So two important questions regarding an AIDS-free generation are: Is an HIV vaccine needed to reach this goal, and if so, what role will it play? (Anthony S. Fauci, 7/11).

USA Today: Beware Of Self-Help Gurus
Nationally known self-help guru James Arthur Ray is scheduled to be released Friday after serving 20 months in prison for the deaths of three people during a 2009 sweat-lodge ceremony he conducted as the surprise culmination of his "Spiritual Warrior" inspirational retreat. All signs suggest Ray will attempt to rebuild his motivational videos, books and seminar business. But unlike Martha Stewart's post-prison rebranding through benign recipes, Ray's return to lead workshops on "harmonic wealth," "practical mysticism" and other "life-altering experiences" underscores the need for people to ask questions, do their research and take caution when choosing a self-improvement program (Christine B. Whelan, 7/11). 

Bloomberg: Americans Die Younger Than Europeans. They Don't Need To
If you wanted to pick a single metric to judge the success of a country, one measure that both conservatives and liberals could agree on, life expectancy may be your best bet. On that metric, the U.S., which spends more on health care than any other developed country, is doing terribly. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows just how badly (Flavelle, 7/11).

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