KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Law Opinions: Obama Asks You To Talk ACA At Thanksgiving; Rove Says Dems Views On Success Are ‘Delusional’

Commentators weigh in on the continuing troubles in the health law rollout.

The New York Times' Taking Note: Talking Health Insurance Over Thanksgiving Dinner
Here's a hypothetical scenario: You're the president. You've just botched the roll out of what should have been your signature accomplishment, a major reform of the health insurance system. The public's hopping mad because you said anyone who liked his insurance plan would be able to keep it, but that wasn't true. So what do you do now? What the actual president did was suggest we all discuss health insurance with their families this holiday season (Andrew Rosenthal, 11/20). 

Los Angeles Times: The Fixes Obamacare Really Does Need
You may have heard, unless you've been living under a rock, that the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect. Programs that aim to restructure one-sixth of the U.S. economy rarely are at the outset, and that's even more true when their introduction is accompanied by determined efforts by some politicians in some states to make them fail. ... But there are some improvements that can be managed right now. For the most part, all they require are political will -- and money (Michael Hiltzik, 11/20). 

The Wall Street Journal's The Experts: Affordable Care Act: How Obama's Signature Legislation Could Be Changed
Love it or hate it, there's no denying the Affordable Care Act is a complex piece of legislation with some positives—and some areas for improvement. With this in mind, we posed the following question to The Experts: If you could change one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, what would it be? This discussion relates to a recent Unleashing Innovation: Health Care Report and formed the basis of a discussion on The Experts blog on Nov. 18 (11/20). 

The Wall Street Journal: Worse Than Obamacare
The ObamaCare train wreck is plowing through the White House in super slow-mo on screens everywhere, splintering reputations and presidential approval ratings. Audiences watch popeyed as Democrats in distress like Senators Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor decide whether to cling to the driverless train or jump toward the tall weeds. The heartless compilers of the Washington Post/ABC poll asked people to pick a head-to-head matchup now between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Mitt won. This is the most amazing spectacle of mayhem and meltdown anyone has seen in politics since Watergate (Daniel Henninger, 11/20). 

The Wall Street Journal: House Democrats Get The Yips 
For the president and key Democratic supporters, the website rollout was a glitch that should not detract from a wondrous and politically potent health-care overhaul. Just ask Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who declared on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that Democrats will proudly "stand tall" with the president in defense of ObamaCare. Or David Plouffe, the president's former senior adviser, who insisted on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" that it's an "impossibility" Republicans will run successfully against ObamaCare next year or in 2016. Or pollster Stan Greenberg, who told me last week that the law is increasingly popular. These claims are delusional (Karl Rove, 11/20).

USA Today: GOP Better Ready Obamacare Replacement
The first weeks of Obamacare are not going well. The law's flaws are becoming more apparent every day. ... Despite the president's unambiguous promises that if we liked our plans, we could keep them, it turns out that for millions of Americans, it wasn't true. They're being shoved onto the exchanges, where many will have to pay much more for the same coverage. Most of the new policies on the exchanges, moreover, do not cover the great centers of medical excellence -- the Moffitt Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Mayo Clinic -- so we are hearing of dying cancer patients who suddenly face terrible choices (Newt Gingrich, 11/20).

The New York Times' The Conscience Of A Liberal: The State Of Obamacare
I haven't been writing about the healthcare.gov thing, for the simple reason that I have nothing to say. What's going on isn't a policy question: we know from the states with working exchanges (including California) that the underlying structure of the law is workable. Instead, it's about an implementation botch, which is an incredible mess, and reflects very badly on Obama. But the future of the reform depends not on policy per se but on whether the IT issues can be fixed well enough soon enough (Paul Krugman, 11/20). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Forced Mom Into Medicaid
The unaffordable ObamaCare-compliant plan that her insurer offered in a Sept. 26 letter is not what makes my mother's story noteworthy. Countless individually insured Americans have received such letters; many are seeing more radical increases in premiums and deductibles. But most of these people are still being offered the chance to choose what health-care insurance they will receive, or to opt out before they are automatically enrolled in a state program. Not so my mother, Charlene Hopkins, as I soon discovered when I called after seeing her Facebook post (Nicole L. Hopkins, 11/20).

National Review: Obama Loses His Cool
Barack Obama is the coolest president we've had since John F. Kennedy, at least according to conventional standards for such things. Obama has always been a brand as much as a politician, one that has been perceived as sleek, smart and up to date. Then along came Healthcare.gov. Its failure to launch is a signal event in the long political battle over Obamacare and perhaps an inflection point in the president's image. It's hard to maintain a sense of truly being on the cutting edge of change when you can't build a website (Lowry, 11/20).

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