KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: NYT’s Kristof On The Death Of His Friend; Obama, Romney Fight For Women

The New York Times: Scott's Story and the Election
I wrote in my last column about my uninsured college roommate, Scott Androes, and his battle with Stage 4 prostate cancer — and a dysfunctional American health care system. I was taken aback by how many readers were savagely unsympathetic. "Your friend made a foolish choice, and actions have consequences," one reader said in a Twitter message. ... Scott and I spoke on Sunday morning about whether his story might move some critics of health care reform. He was weakening and mused that he probably didn’t have long. A few hours later, Scott slipped into a coma. He died Monday morning. We can't be certain that the cancer would have been found earlier, when it was more treatable, if Scott had been insured. But it's a reasonable bet (Nicholas Kristof, 10/17).

Los Angeles Times: Obama And Romney (Heart) Women. Who (Hearts) Them More?
Obama's stances on women's issues are well known. He favors abortion rights, and the first act he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to remedy pay discrimination against women. So when undecided voter Katherine Fenton asked about the wage gender gap, it was a pitch right over the plate for him. It's clear where he stands, and it's also clear where he thinks the bulk of female voters stand on these matters. Romney was the first out of the box to mention women, pointing out that 3.5 million more women now live in poverty under the Obama administration. … Romney's other appeals to women were less direct than the president's, partly because he's made vulnerable by stances like his plan to cut Headstart programs and to end Obama's healthcare reform law, which includes no-co-pay contraception coverage (Patt Morrison, 10/17).

The Wall Street Journal: Can Government Benefits Turn An Election?
Two years ago, voters were not willing to dismiss pocketbook issues in the face of a massive two-year expansion of government benefits. The question that will be answered in this election is whether two additional years have tilted the scales and reduced the expectations of prosperity that Americans have set for their nation, their leaders and themselves (Phil Gramm and Michael Solon, 10/17). 

The Medicare NewsGroup: Medicare's Future: Questions That Fall Through The Cracks
Sifting through the two major competing proposals for Medicare reform, one key question emerges: What will they really cost taxpayers and beneficiaries? This subject hasn't been explored in any depth during the presidential debates. And it's difficult to answer this query when you compare the Romney–Ryan plan to Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) model that was put into place in 2010 and promises savings over time (John Wasik, 10/17).

Huffington Post: On Medicare, Obama And Romney Are Both Wrong
Medicare has provoked sharp disagreement in this presidential campaign. Unfortunately, on this critical issue, both candidates are wrong. President Obama acknowledges that his health care reform plan calls for future Medicare spending over $700 billion less than it otherwise would be. President Obama reassures current and prospective Medicare recipients that Medicare providers such as physicians and hospitals will bear the cost of this reduction in projected spending. Medicare participants, the president reassures, won't feel a thing. Governor Romney, as part of the repeal of President Obama's signature health care legislation, wants to cancel this planned reduction in projected Medicare outlays. Medicare, the Republican nominee tells us, need only be reformed for those currently in their 50s and younger. Neither candidate is leveling with the American people (Edward Zelinsky, 10/17).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Obamacare Is Working
After 2 1/2 years as the law of the land, Obamacare has benefited millions of Americans and will benefit millions more as the law becomes fully implemented. The idea behind the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is that no Americans should have to go into debt because they need health care.  President Obama's health care law expands access to the care Americans need and lowers its cost. The heart of the law is to hold insurance companies accountable by prohibiting them from cutting off coverage for people with pre-existing conditions (Courtney Law, 10/17).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Freedom Key To Romney's Health Plans
The Obama Administration's health law assumes that U.S. health care system problems occur because patients and providers have too much freedom. In contrast, Gov. Romney's proposed reforms recognize that 70 years of regulatory accretion has compromised the ability of the system to adjust to dramatic demographic, economic and technological change. In short, the problem is too much of the wrong kind of regulation rather than too little (Linda Gorman, 10/17).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Comparing The Affordable Care Act And The Massachusetts Model
The closest real-world example to the Affordable Care Act is the health reform plan implemented in Massachusetts in 2006. Even though the ACA has a 50-state focus, the plans are very much alike. To get an idea of how the ACA might work, it’s useful to look at the Massachusetts experiment. First, an important distinction: The Massachusetts reform plan is less dependent upon taxes and fees than the ACA.  This is largely because federal funding has paid for about 64 percent of the cost of the plan, with the state absorbing 18 percent and hospitals and providers picking up the remainder. Also, the provisions in the ACA that address Medicare are absent from the Massachusetts plan. That's because Medicare is a federal program (Bob Semro, 10/17).

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