KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: New Poll Points Out Inconsistencies Among Health Law’s Opponents; Protecting Vets; Calif. Restaurant Nutrition Info Missing

Bloomberg: Would You Pay A Quarter For Someone Else's Insurance?
The case against the Affordable Care Act rests on the premise that the free market can better provide health insurance to the nation's 54 million uninsured than a government program can. But what does it mean if many of the same people who oppose Obamacare also object to the cost of covering more people through the market? A telephone survey by Bankrate.com asked 3,496 people how they would react if a business tacked on an extra 25 cents to every bill to help cover the cost of health insurance for its employees. Among Democrats, 70 percent said they would approve. ... When Republicans were presented with the 25 cents idea, however, a plurality -- 35 percent -- said they would respond by taking their business elsewhere. ... So a significant portion of Republicans don't think the government should pay for people's health insurance, but they are not willing to pay even a small amount more so that those people can get covered through their employer (Christopher Flavelle, 4/28).

Los Angeles Times: Found: The Lamest Anti-Obamacare Column Of All (Thus Far)
As we've recently observed, conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act have pulled out the stops to paint the law as an unmitigated disaster--notwithstanding its documented gains in health insurance coverage for millions of Americans nationwide. But we think we've found the dopiest entry in this competitive field. Tip your hat to Michael F. Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute, who wins the prize with a piece entitled "ACA Exchanges at risk." ... Its theme is that Obamacare "creates so many incentives for enrollees to drop their coverage" that this year's enrollment numbers can't be sustained. The piece goes even further, stating that people are financially better off if they drop their coverage and "wait until they get sick to re-enroll" (Michael Hiltzik, 4/28).

The Wall Street Journal: A Doctor's Declaration Of Independence
In my 23 years as a practicing physician, I've learned that the only thing that matters is the doctor-patient relationship. How we interact and treat our patients is the practice of medicine. I acknowledge that there is a problem with the rising cost of health care, but there is also a problem when the individual physician in the trenches does not have a voice in the debate and is being told what to do and how to do it (Daniel F. Craviotto Jr., 4/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Pfizer's Tax Takeover
U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. wants to buy AstraZeneca, and not just for its pipeline of cancer drugs. Acquiring the British company would also give Pfizer shareholders welcome relief from a U.S. corporate tax rate that is among the world's highest. Instead of paying punitive rates to return its money to the U.S., Pfizer figures it can get a better return paying $100 billion or so to buy a foreign company (4/28). 

The Baltimore Sun: Protecting Our Protectors
In an era when private companies use big data to predict our shopping habits, it is possible and necessary to use data collation and analysis to improve care for veterans. Better data sharing by states would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to focus resources in locations with the greatest need, target those most at risk and help tailor care to fit the community ... Other goals that even our diametrically opposed political parties should be able to agree on include appointing a national director on suicide prevention, increasing mental health eligibility for combat veterans from 5 to 15 years and filling the 1,000 mental health care jobs unfilled at the VA (Garrett Berntsen, 4/28). 

The New York Times’ Upshot: How Congress Is Actually Holding Down Medicare Spending
It's a rare health policy wonk who has a good word to say about Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula. That's the formula created by Congress to govern the amount that Medicare pays to physicians for various treatments. It is supposed to adjust payments to meet an overall spending target tied to economic growth. But it hardly ever works out this way. ... However, from another point of view, the formula — as flawed as it is — has helped keep Medicare spending lower than it might otherwise have been (Austin Frakt, 4/28). 

Los Angeles Times: Restaurants Skip Required Nutrition Info; Officials Choose Not To Care
Only five years ago, California enacted a pioneering law that required restaurants to put nutritional information on menus. For the first time, consumers were empowered to make informed decisions about what they ate. So it seems crazy that it's even a question: Does the law still exist? If you ask state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), the author of the menu-labeling law, the answer is yes (David Lazarus, 4/28). 

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