KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Medicaid Expansion ‘Makes Sense’; Budget Cuts Hurt Alzheimers’ Research; Lack Of Transparency In Generic Rx Prices

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Rand Study Adds To The Evidence: Expanding Medicaid Makes Sense
The numbers in the Rand study ... should not be a surprise to people who have been paying attention. Numerous studies now, including in Missouri, have pointed to the simple reality of the policy implications of the ACA to argue for Medicaid expansion. ... Frankly, there are public policy decisions that should be made for moral reasons, costs be damned. This is one of them. Giving people access to health insurance saves lives. That’s just a fact. Lawmakers don’t like to talk about it, but it should be the single most important factor in states like Missouri (6/11).

Tampa Bay Times: Scott Should Stand With Workers
If Gov. Rick Scott is positioning himself as pro-family and pro-women by supporting expanded Medicaid and vetoing a bill to eliminate permanent alimony, he should listen to Orlando-area mothers urging him to veto a bill that harms working families. The measure, HB 655, would prevent local governments from requiring local private employers to provide paid sick leave and other job-related benefits. Scott, who has two weeks to act on the bill, could demonstrate his sincerity in helping working families by vetoing it (6/10).

Los Angeles Times: Disparity In Generic Drug Prices Is A Bitter Pill To Swallow
Generic prescription drugs have to meet exacting standards for ingredients and quality, which you'd think would make them uniformly priced at pharmacies. But that, of course, isn't the case. Generic drug prices can be all over the map, depending on where and how you buy them (David Lazarus, 6/11).

Tampa Bay Times: Finally, Universal Access To Morning-After Pill
When it comes to public health, the government's job is to help Americans get access to the safest, most effective care. Finally on Monday, the Obama administration signaled it would do that job and prioritize women's and girls' health over gamesmanship. It said it would comply with a federal appeals court's order to make emergency contraception, called the morning-after pill, available to females of any age without a prescription (6/10).

Bloomberg: How To Look Younger And Fix Medicare Too
Medicare has been at the center of this debate because it consumes a large fraction of our tax dollars: about 16 percent of federal spending today and an estimated 18 percent by 2023. One way to curb this growth is to leave decisions about spending to the beneficiaries, but increase deductibles and co-payments. Another is to use evidence and data to recognize which interventions work best and for whom, and to cover procedures that do, something called “value-based insurance design.” These two approaches aren’t as different as they appear (Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt, 6/10).

Bloomberg: Alzheimer Research Cuts Show Folly Of Sequestration
Because the cuts only affect the margins of a wide array of defense and domestic discretionary programs, there mostly hasn’t been an immediate pinch; the public backlash has been minimal. The long-term consequences, in more than a few cases, are ominous. There’s no better case study than Alzheimer’s disease. With the sequestration-enforced cuts at the National Institutes of Health, research to find a cure or better treatment is slowing (Albert R. Hunt, 6/9).

Oregonian: Oregon Should Adopt A Smarter Stance On Child Vaccines
Oregon's laws on childhood vaccines are among the nation's least restrictive, most accepting of religious beliefs and most deferential toward parents. This fact won't change if state lawmakers pass Senate Bill 132.  But the state would send a stronger and more consistent message about children's health and community responsibility by tweaking current law to reflect the importance of vaccines. The House should follow the Senate's lead, pass SB132 and send it to Gov. John Kitzhaber's desk (6/10).

WBUR: Cognoscenti: A Simple Test. Newborn Lives Saved. What’s The Holdup?
Last week, the Massachusetts state legislature heard testimony in favor of making a new kind of medical screening for newborns mandatory. Pulse oximetry tests — or “pulse ox” for short — measure oxygen levels and can detect serious heart defects, which are often missed during routine check-ups and are a leading cause of infant mortality. The screening is inexpensive, non-invasive and easy to perform (Darshak Sanghavi, 6/11).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Long-Term Care A Looming Crisis, But Colorado Takes An Important Step
If we are to successfully manage the health care needs of our aging population, we need to pursue options that will cost less, protect people’s assets and life savings, keep people in their homes for as long as possible and help to reduce the financial and emotional stress on family caregivers.  The longer we wait to develop a strategy, the more costly those options will be and the more difficult they will be to implement. Fortunately, Colorado is looking ahead. This year, the legislature passed a bill that will help provide additional long-term care options for older Coloradans and save money for the state at the same time. It is one important step, but many more will be required (Bob Serno, 6/10).

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