KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: USA Today Says ‘GOP Poisons’ Obamacare; McConnell Calls For Repeal

USA Today: GOP Poisons Obamacare, Then Claims It's Sick: Our View
Making Obamacare work was always going to be hard, which is exactly what you'd expect for a complex new program that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy. ... That explains — but hardly excuses — Republicans' latest assault on Obamacare. Having lost in Congress and in court, they're now using the most cynical of tactics: trying to make the law fail. Never mind the public inconvenience and human misery that will result. Their assault is under way on several fronts (7/9).

USA Today: Sen. Mitch McConnell: Obamacare Hikes Costs, Kill Jobs
With the Obama administration's decision last week to delay significant provisions of Obamacare, the White House seems to be finally, if slowly, admitting what Americans already know: Obamacare costs too much and isn't working as promised. And yet, the administration's solution isn't to fix the problem by replacing the law with common sense reforms that could actually lower costs for Americans — but rather to get a better spokesperson (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., 7/9). 

Politico: Sen. Mitch McConnell: Repeal Health-Care Law 
But just as Washington Democrats should never have taken over health care in the first place, the administration shouldn’t now be in the business of picking who gets a break from Obamacare and who doesn’t. In the face of escalating complaints, the Obama administration has clearly embraced a policy of quick fixes aimed at placating the loudest voices in the bunch. But this will never work as a long-term strategy. The answer isn’t to help some and ignore others. It’s to liberate all Americans from the burdens of this terrible law. What’s needed is a permanent delay — for everyone (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 7/9). 

The New York Times: The Koch Brothers' Advertising Campaign
David and Charles Koch, the immensely rich industrialists, presumably have health insurance, though they don’t really need it. More than 25 million Americans don’t have it and really do need it, however, and the Koch brothers are working hard to make sure the government doesn’t give it to them. The advocacy group backed by the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, is spending more than $1 million on an advertising campaign to (yet again) discredit President Obama’s health care reform law (David Firestone, 7/9). 

The New York Times: Could Employers Use Immigrants To Avoid The Health Mandate?
In a bid to win conservatives over to the cause of immigration reform, the authors of the Senate bill included a provision that would deny health benefits to illegal immigrants seeking to become legal. Now there is an argument making the rounds that this provision will encourage companies to replace American workers with those newly legalized immigrants. ... But how realistic is this? (Robb Mandelbaum, 7/9).

The New York Times: Taxing Employers And Employees
The delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate is a favorable development for the labor market, but the employer mandate is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the labor-market distortions that the law has scheduled to come on line next year (Casey B. Mulligan, 7/9).

Los Angeles Times: It's Time To Fix California's Outdated Medical Malpractice Law
The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 has destroyed the ability of large segments of California patients to file malpractice lawsuits (Michael Hiltzik, 7/9).

Sacramento Bee: Raising Cap On Malpractice Law Will Increase Health Care Costs
The Consumer Attorneys of California, a trade association representing trial lawyers, and their allies are "declaring war" on physicians, according to a story last month in The Bee. Their coalition has committed to spend $1 million for a political and public relations campaign to pass legislation that would increase lawyer payouts in lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, nurses, community clinics, firefighters, EMTs and other health workers who provide care for patients (Dr. Paul Phinney and Jonathan Porteus, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Glitch May Cost Young Smokers, Spare Older Ones
No matter how small a surcharge they impose on young smokers, their premiums are still going to be higher than the ones for bare-bones policies available today. They're also going to be considerably more expensive than the tax penalty imposed for not obtaining coverage, at least in 2014 (Jon Healey, 7/9).

WBUR: How Much Should We Pay Our Health Care Leaders? (Audio)
Despite its sports-crazed citizenry, in Massachusetts the public employee with the highest salary isn’t a university coach but the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Michael F. Collins, who earns about $785,000 a year. Carrie Goldberg, co-host of WBUR’s Commonhealth blog, wrote about this and raised the question, how much should we pay our health care leaders, and how much is too much? (7/9).

Fox News: Planned Parenthood, Big Abortion And The Battle To Saves Lives In Texas
If you’re befuddled by the loud uproar and tense debate over this bill that we witnessed last week in the national media – or why the press is focusing on one woman’s pink sneakers – know you’re not alone. Texas’s pro-life bill is not a radical bill. ... Because America’s women are watching, waiting and praying that the Texas legislature will follow the ethical sentiments of their citizens and the entire country and take this minimal step to protect the lives of women and children (Penny Young Nance, 7/9).

The Denver Post: Chronic Mismanagement On VA Hospital Projects
It's unclear why the under-construction Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora, which has already ballooned in cost multiple times, is now another nearly $200 million, or 34 percent, over budget. Regardless, one thing is abundantly clear: The VA has a troubling pattern of mismanaging the construction of its hospitals (7/10).

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