KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: VA’s Lessons For Private Health Care; Court Should Protect Abortion Clinic Buffers

Reuters: VA Scandal Is No Mark Against Big Government
This is the full quote from ... former neurosurgeon Ben Carson: "What's happening with the veterans is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the healthcare provider." Perhaps, as a brain surgeon, Carson is given special treatment when he visits the doctor. But the rest of us endure "layers and layers of bureaucracy" whenever we try to access the healthcare we have so expensively bought. One reason American healthcare is two-and-a-half times more expensive than in comparable countries is because of the "layers and layers" of insurance sales agents, ID checkers, referral faxers, hospital debt collectors from insurance companies and all the other expensive bureaucrats with no medical knowledge who are employed to administer and police the system (Nicholas Wapshott, 6/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Care Is Our Other Afghanistan
Mr. Obama cannot be blamed for the unworkability of the VA health-care program. Government never will be able to satisfy demand for a valuable service given away free or nearly free. That would be true even if the department did not suffer all the infirmities of a politicized bureaucracy captured by organized labor. As long as the system takes anything like its present form, Secretary Sisyphus will have endless employment. But you'd expect the president, since domestic policy and health care are so close to his political heart, to be more on top of matters. It's hard to escape the impression, as with Afghanistan, that the administration has become lost in its own disingenuousness (Holman W. Jenkins Jr., 6/3). 

Des Moines Register: Putting The VA Scandal Into Perspective
Although Eric Shinseki has resigned as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the crisis is so deep that it will take many years to fix. But the scandal is not something new that has just burst onto the national scene. And the problems are not confined to veterans hospitals. The problems are going to spread to civilian hospitals and clinics. More than a year ago, I wrote that we needed to pay attention to the shortage of doctors in the United States. The shortage was not a secret then, and the problem hasn't gone away (Steffen Schmidt, 6/3). 

Los Angeles Times: Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones Should Be Protected By The Supreme Court
Within days, the justices of the Supreme Court will hand down their ruling on the constitutionality of buffer zones at abortion clinics, and I hope they will remember that these zones came out of a desire to prevent violence and harassment, not to hinder free speech (Carla Hall, 6/3). 

The New Republic: The Latest Obamacare Glitch And Why It's (Probably) No Big Deal
A new Affordable Care Act controversy may be on the way. It seems a substantial fraction of people who bought private insurance through an Obamacare marketplace submitted personal information that’s inconsistent with federal records. ... The problems could very well [reflect] clunky program design, poor implementation, or some combination of the two. But the "vast majority" of people with these applications appear to be getting the proper amount of financial assistance, senior Administration officials tell The New Republic. The government just hasn't been able to verify their status (Jonathan Cohn, 6/3).

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