KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Lame Duck Congress Shouldn’t Take On Entitlement Changes; New Legal Challenge To Health Law; ‘Irrational Vote’ On Disability Pact

Politico: Fiscal Cliff Deal: What We Need
What we need in order to address this fiscal abyss is a Grand Bargain that addresses the two main drivers of our structural deficits: unsustainable social insurance programs, especially health care programs, and a complex, unfair, uncompetitive and inadequate tax system. But a lame duck Congress cannot and should not tackle comprehensive tax and social insurance reforms. It will take dedicated effort in 2013 from the new Congress and its responsible committees, as well as a non-partisan public education initiative sanctioned by the White House, and private discussions with key bipartisan leaders to forge such a bargain (David Walker, 12/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama's Ruinous Course
The only issue on the cliff negotiation table held true by every serious person is that the entitlement crisis is going to crush the country. But nothing is dearer to this president than higher taxes on people defined by him as the wealthiest. If the president's DNA prevents him from a compromise that also includes a sequester-strength commitment to disarming the entitlement bombs, much less discretionary spending, take the sequester. Better the fiscal cliff than pitching the American people over the bottomless entitlement cliff (Daniel Henninger, 12/5).

The Washington Post: Bewitched By Obama
In 1965, the year [Medicare] was created, the average life expectancies of men and women at age 65 were another 13.5 and 18 years respectively. Today they are 19 and 21, and rising. Given modern medical — especially pharmacological — marvels, longevity often involves living with several chronic ailments that might have been fatal a generation ago. For liberals, however, no demographic or scientific changes need be accommodated (George F. Will, 12/5).

The Wall Street Journal: The Opening For A Fresh ObamaCare Challenge
ObamaCare is being implemented, having been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in June in a series of cases now known as National Federation of Independent Business v. HHS. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the court took a law that was flawed but potentially workable and transformed it into one that is almost certainly unworkable. More important, the justices also may have created new and fatal constitutional problems (David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, 12/5).

New England Journal of Medicine: Threading the Needle — Medicaid And The 113th Congress
[Medicaid] now plays a vital role in the U.S. health care system and a foundational role in health care reform. The central question, as we approach a major debate over U.S. spending and federal deficits, is how to preserve this role and shield Medicaid from crippling spending reductions. ... Of particular importance is a heightened focus, begun under the ACA, on reforms that emphasize community care for millions of severely disabled children and adults, including patients who are dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid and who rely heavily on long-term institutional care. This is the time for delicate and careful strategies (Sara Rosenbaum, 12/5).

Austin American Statesman: Why Medicaid Matters 
The face of Medicaid is changing. Medicaid covers 1 out of 3 children in our state and country. The majority of these children come from working families whose income cannot keep pace with normal living expenses. ... It is imperative that everyone across the state and nation understand the purpose of Medicaid — that it is not for people who do not want to work or are simply looking for a handout. Medicaid is a safety net for everyone because we are all one medical crisis or catastrophic event away from financial ruin (Mark A. Wallace, 12/5). 

Kansas City Star: An Irrational Vote Against Disability Treaty 
The Senate needed 66 votes to ratify a United Nations treaty that calls upon countries to ensure disabled citizens receive the same rights and freedoms as their able-bodied peers. Despite a visit in the Senate chamber from an ailing former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, it received only 61 votes. The treaty, already ratified by 126 countries, calls on nations to live up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. ... Opposition to the treaty was drummed up by far-right denizens like Rick Santorum and Glenn Beck, who claimed it would empower governments to tell parents how to care for disabled children. Other groups said it was really a call for more abortions. None of that is true (12/5).

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