KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Entitlements Driving U.S. Toward Insolvency; Shalala On Being Informed; Catholics Find Contraceptive Mandate Morally Wrong

Politico: Facing The Truth About Entitlements
As currently structured, entitlement programs can't keep up with longer life expectancies and changing demographics. Soon, one-third of Americans will be retired and will spend one-third of their lives in retirement. Meanwhile, the ratio of workers to retirees has dropped precipitously. During this decade and the next, the number of Americans 65 or older will jump 75 percent, while those of working age will nudge up by just 7 percent. Within a decade, the total price for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will reach $3 trillion a year, but we'll have fewer workers paying into the system and supporting those growing costs (R. Bruce Josten, 6/25). 

USA Today: What Americans Need To Know On Health Care
This fall, just four months from now, tens of millions of Americans who don't have health insurance will be able to get a quality plan tailored to their specific needs and budget. It's a major attribute of the nation's new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and we need to make sure that Americans who are eligible gain access as quickly as possible. ... In the absence of facts, too many Americans know too little about the law that will have an immediate impact on the health of their families -- and that means they won't be able to take advantage of the benefits. To put it simply: whether you support the Affordable Care Act or not -- and I happen to be a strong supporter -- everyone should support making sure that all Americans have the basic information about their legal rights so that they can make the best decisions for their families (Donna Shalala, 6/25). 

The New York Times: Economix: The Perils Of Significant Misunderstandings In Evaluating Medicaid
Whether you like or dislike the Affordable Care Act, it helps to understand the distinction between statistical significance and practical importance. Taxpayers want to know whether the government programs they pay for actually make a difference, so measurement is a critical part of policy evaluation. ... Statistical significance has little to do with “significance” as understood by laymen, who think of practical importance when they read that term. ... The commentators on both sides of the Medicaid debate made exactly this error (Casey B. Mulligan, 6/26). 

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Expand Medicaid?
As state leaders and members of the public ponder the merits of expanding Medicaid, they might pause to ask what advocates of expansion hope to achieve. If the aim simply is to provide more health care to the poor and near-poor, expansion would do that. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found Medicaid expansion in Oregon "did increase the use of health services." But that is different from actually making people healthier. Medicaid expansion has not been shown to do that (6/24).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Medicaid Reform Must Come First
Medicaid is a broken program that needs serious reform. Until the federal government gives Virginia the flexibility to make these reforms – and until we can be absolutely certain Virginia taxpayers will not get stuck with a massive bill – Virginia cannot begin to consider expansion (James M. O'Bannon and R. Steven Landes, 6/23).

San Antonio Express: Opposition To Medicaid Expansion Misguided 
Gov. Rick Perry's comment that Medicaid is a failed federal program is just plain wrong. Medicaid, overall, has been a success since it began in 1965. The Medicaid expansion will save lives and reduce poverty; have little to no cost and save money; boost local economies and save jobs; build a stronger health care system for all Texans; and provide roughly 1.5 million uninsured Texans with health coverage (Juan Flores, 6/21).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Expanding Medicaid Is The Smart Thing To Do
From New York to New Mexico, and Oregon to Alabama, state officials with diverse political outlooks are reaching the same conclusion: Expanding Medicaid under Obamacare is simply too good an idea to pass up. Not only that, it's a smart, compassionate public-health policy. But a still-reluctant Gov. Corbett and the Republican-controlled General Assembly continue to stall on Pennsylvania's adding more of its working poor to the health-insurance program. Unless they make a decision before the state budget process concludes this month, Corbett and company likely will stand by as Gov. Christie and other GOP governors start to reap billions in new federal aid for their states next year (6/24).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: HHS Mandate Puts Our Religious And Personal Liberties At Stake
The legality and the right to purchase contraceptives — or an abortion for that matter — are not at stake here. Please take note of two words: "force" and "pay." Without getting into the merits of Catholic teaching and how men and women cooperate with our Creator to bring life into the world and the profound responsibility that goes along with human sexuality, it must be asked: If government can force Catholics to pay for something we find morally wrong, why can't it force you to participate in something you object to? (Archbishop Robert Carlson, 6/26).

The Washington Post: On Abortion, Republicans Treat Women Like Children
Last week, the House passed the most restrictive abortion bill to come to a vote in Congress in the past decade. Despite the efforts of Democrats and a few moderate Republicans who spoke out against the unconstitutional bill, which bans almost all abortions after 20 weeks, it passed 228 to 196. This is only the latest blow in the GOP's all-out assault on women's reproductive rights (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 6/25). 

MedPage Today: Recipe For Population Health
It strikes me that, in order to answer the Affordable Care Act's call for us to aggressively pursue population health, we must first understand what the recipe calls for. ... for those of us who practice medicine, positive change will come when we are able to reconcile population-wide, evidence-based recommendations with individualized care that is guided by each patient's unique genetic makeup (Dr. David Nash, 6/25).

Lund Report: Rationing Care Is The Wrong Way To Cut Oregon's Medicaid Costs
Imagine walking into your doctor's office and seeing someone else standing there, telling you they get to make the final decision about your healthcare. Instead of doctors and patients making important health decisions, they make the final call. For those in Oregon's social safety net, that day is coming. The Health Evidence Review Commission, or HERC, is designed specifically to cut healthcare costs by overriding decisions made by doctors and their patients (Debbie McCabe and Lorren Sandt, 6/26).

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