KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: The ‘Real Story’ Of Ryan At AARP; ‘Get Thee To An Emergency Room’

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan At The AARP
The headlines this weekend were all about the boos Paul Ryan elicited on Friday when he addressed the AARP, the self-styled seniors' lobby. The herd of independent media minds missed the real story, which is that the Republican Vice Presidential nominee went into the heart of the entitlement culture, told some hard truths, and even won applause for doing so (9/24).

The Hill: Romney's ER Care
For months, Mitt Romney’s strategy has been to attack the specifics of President Obama’s policies while offering none of his own. On healthcare reform, Romney continuously says he would repeal ObamaCare while awkwardly trying to Etch A Sketch away from the similar plan he championed as governor of Massachusetts, or “RomneyCare,” on which the president’s Affordable Care Act is based. Facing dropping poll numbers and ongoing criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike about the need to offer specifics, Romney finally told us how he would deal with the more than 48 million Americans without health insurance: Get thee to an emergency room! (Karen Finney, 9/24).

The Wall Street Journal: The Democrats' Market-Friendly Health-Care Alternative
Many commentators, including The Wall Street Journal, frame the health-care debate as a choice between government control and individual choice. But that is a false contrast. The choice is really between encouraging health care providers to be more efficient, innovative and focused on keeping patients healthy -- or shifting the financial burden to patients, businesses and states. The latter approach harms seniors and others, and it will fail to control health-care costs (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Neera Tanden and Donald Berwick, 9/24).

USA Today: New Form Simplifies Health Insurance
As we near open enrollment season for many health plans, Americans have an important new tool to help them pick the right coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Consumers can now get a simple, standardized form telling them what a given health plan covers and how much it costs. As a result, comparing health insurance options to find the best one for your family has never been easier (Kathleen Sebelius, 9/24). 

San Jose Mercury News: Health Workers Should Embrace Getting A Flu Vaccine Or Wearing A Mask
Influenza is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States, killing more than 35,000 every year and sending another 250,000 to the hospital. Yet the union for health care workers in Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties is objecting to a requirement that they either get a flu shot or wear a mask at work during the flu season. The union told the Bay Area News Group that masks are ineffective and would stigmatize employees. Since when is wearing a mask in a medical facility considered a stigma? Or even a big deal? The Centers for Disease Control says no studies have proved that masks prevent the transmission of influenza, but it still recommends the practice, since it might help contain the spread of respiratory secretions. The bigger question is why aren't health care professionals first in line for a flu shot? (9/24).

Politico: How Junk Food In Schools Affects The Military
Being overweight or obese has now become the leading medical reason why young adults cannot enlist in the military. The Defense Department estimates that 1 in 4 young adults is too overweight to enlist. When weight problems are combined with other disqualifying factors, like failing to finish high school or being convicted of a serious crime, an estimated 75 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 are not able to join the military. ... That's why retired generals and admirals like myself are calling on our leaders in Washington to help reduce the junk food sold in schools. Too many schools still have vending machines and other venues where children can routinely buy candy, potato chips, cookies and sugar-sweetened fruit juices or sports drinks (Ret. Gen. Richard B. Myers, 9/24).

Politico: Women In Military Deserve Better Care
Both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney regularly talk about the needs of our military men and women. Yet they are not addressing a serious military issue — access to reproductive care for military women. Military women do not have coverage for abortion care, including in cases of rape and incest. Yet 52 military women are raped every day, according to the Pentagon, and hundreds of female soldiers are at risk of becoming pregnant from rape each year (Lawrence Knob and Jessica Arons, 9/24).

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