KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: A ‘Clever’ Fix For Contraception Coverage; Sanjay Gupta Warns Doctors To Pay Attention To Health Overhaul

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration's Clever Contraception Fix
Many nonprofit religious organizations have balked at having to insure their employees' birth control -- because they don't believe in artificial contraception -- under the Affordable Care Act. On Friday, the Obama administration announced a solution to this problem. The new health care law guarantees access to preventive services, and contraception falls, appropriately, into that category (Carla Hill, 6/28).

The New York Times: Sex And the H.I.V. Morning-After Pill
More than 30 years since AIDS emerged, and two decades since antiretroviral drugs transformed that epidemic into a chronic but manageable disease, conversations about H.I.V. remain awkward, especially for gay men. ... Two recent developments could make these conversations less awkward, or even render them moot. But they also raise troubling questions about promiscuity and responsibility that are reminiscent of debates from the 1980s. The first development was the approval, last summer, by the Food and Drug Administration of an over-the-counter rapid-response at-home H.I.V. test kit. The test, called OraQuick and available nationwide since October, gives results 20 minutes after a cheek swab. The second is the increasing availability of (post-exposure prophylaxis) PEP and of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP (Richard Morgan, 6/28).

The New York Times: Why Healthy Eaters Fall For Fries
Such is the puzzle of the food industry: American consumers, even otherwise healthy ones, keep choosing caloric indulgences rather than healthy foods at fast-food restaurants. Public health officials have been pushing fast-food restaurants to offer more nutritious foods to help combat excess weight in the United States, where more than one-third of American adults are obese. And restaurants have obliged by adding healthy menu items. But it's the sugary, fatty items that are flying -- or waddling -- out the door (Stephanie Clifford, 6/29). 

Medpage Today: Health Care Professionals Not Ready For ACA
It is the most extensive overhaul of health care in this country in half a century, and it's about to make itself felt in a big way. But many of us who provide health care are paying little attention to what it will mean for our profession or our patients. That's partly because this has been a slow-moving train that seemed like it might be pushed off the rails at many turns. It was easy to ignore (Dr. Sanjay Gupta, 6/28).

Fox News: ObamaCare Turns One -- Here's What America Still Needs To Know
When the Supreme Court deemed the Affordable Care Act constitutional one year ago, it was a monumental moment in our nation’s history.  It meant that essential, historic reform of the American health care system would move forward. It meant guaranteed health care access for millions of Americans who hadn't had access before. It meant a re-energized focus on medical quality and the development of a more efficient health care delivery system. Twelve months after the court's decision, though, there are still more questions than answers (Dr. Toby Crosgrove, 6/28).

Los Angeles Times: The Budget Vs. Medi-Cal
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state's budget for the coming fiscal year into law Thursday, marking the third consecutive year that this particular task has been accomplished on time -- a sharp contrast to the prior decade's routinely late budgets. And to their credit, Brown and the Legislature relied on comparatively few gimmicks to make ends meet. ... But one of the biggest initiatives in the budget -- the expansion of Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for the impoverished -- could be undermined by some of the cuts lawmakers did not undo (6/28). 

Roanoke Times: Virginia Can Control Its Destiny With Medicaid Expansion 
We can accept expansion with the understanding that we have the option to reverse course if the federal government does not honor its commitment. Yes, Medicaid needs reform, and the impetus for reform is one of the main reasons that I am a proponent for strategic expansion. We have delineated an aggressive agenda for reform, and the administration is already making a lot of progress to achieve our goals. We have already agreed to expand Medicaid if these goals are met and to suspend our program if the federal government does not honor its commitment. Savings attributed to the revised program would be placed in a special fund in case there are shortfalls in future years (Republican State Sen. Emmett Hanger, 6/30).

Roanoke Times: Virginia Could Get Stuck With A Large Bill
Proponents of expansion have argued that "it would be foolish" for Virginia to turn down "free" federal money appropriated for expansion. But as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. ... When a state chooses not to expand Medicaid, that money does not get spent somewhere else. It simply does not get borrowed and spent at all. A study recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal estimated if only half the states reject expansion, the federal deficit could be reduced by more than $500 billion (Republican State Del. Steve Landes, 6/30).

CNN: Find Out What Your Doctor Really Thinks About You
I was sitting in a wheelchair in an elevator of a hospital when the aide pushing me lay a binder on my lap. My medical record! It was heavy, hundreds of pages charting all I had endured since a runaway truck in Jerusalem broke my neck months before on May 16, 1990. I knew that medical charts were off-limits to patients. But I was 19 and hemiplegic (the left half of me paralyzed) and curious. And so, I opened it with my one good hand and read what a droll psychologist at Mount Sinai had somehow gleaned from our occasional games of chess: "Joshua appears compliant and motivated and expressed good insight into the nature and course of his disability." I closed the binder quickly, my mind at ease. Patients no longer have to resort to stolen glances. Ever since 1996, when Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, all of us (save a small number of people with severe mental health disorders) have had the right to read our records (Joshua Prager, 7/1).

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