KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Calif. Could Take A Lesson From Wis. Reforms; Republican Advocates A ‘Nixon To China’ Embrace Of Medicare For All

Los Angeles Times: California, Look To Wisconsin
The state's teachers union, Wisconsinites learned, had used its power to collectively bargain for healthcare benefits to demand that local school districts provide coverage through a nonprofit insurer affiliated with the union. Once the state ended bargaining on healthcare, school boards began competitively bidding out their health insurance. By the opening of the new school year in September, just two months after the budget bill went into effect, 23 districts had rebid their contracts, saving $16 million, or an average of $211 per student (Steven Malanga, 7/17).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Public Opinion: Ruling? What Ruling?
If you're reading these words, then you probably know how the Supreme Court came down in its landmark health-care ruling. But a surprising — or, perhaps, not so surprising — number of people do not. According to the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of Americans either did not know that the high court had upheld the Affordable Care Act or thought it had struck down the law. You can take that as yet further proof that the American proletariat is a bunch of slack-jawed ignoramuses — adding it to other data points, such our country's low rate of voter turnout or the fact that about twice as many Americans can name two characters on "The Simpsons" as can name two liberties protected by the First Amendment (7/17).

Des Moines Register: Head-In-The-Sand 'Solution' Is Killing GOP
We Republicans have ourselves to blame for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Our reaction to the Clinton health reform proposals in the early 1990s was to have conservative think tanks come up with a free competition model based on expansion of private insurance and Medicaid. That idea became Romneycare, which evolved into Obamacare. It is our baby, ugly or not (Jack Bernard, 7/16).

Boston Globe: Reducing Payments To Hospitals Doesn't Reduce Health Care Costs, It Just Shifts Them To Someone Else
Piloting a glider successfully requires learning how to avoid over steering, otherwise a flight can quickly turn into a crisis. That same common-sense principle should apply to our state's health care reform efforts. We are on the right course. But over steering by government could send the system spinning off course. We believe there is a valid role for government in transforming the health care system. But successful reform is about collaboration between government and stakeholders, not government exerting control over them (Lynn Nicholas, 7/16).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rejecting A Medicaid Expansion
To encourage Virginia and other states to expand, the federal government is offering to pick up more than 90 percent of the cost of insurance for those newly eligible. But even with that giant carrot, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that Virginia will spend an additional $863 million just by 2019. Worse yet, the president's own budget proposal this year included a section forcing states to pick up a larger share of the cost. Virginia can't afford the additional spending (Audrey Jackson and Nicole Kaeding, 7/17).

Georgia Health News: All Fooling Aside, The Health Law Is Expensive
Only political junkies really care about the difference between taxes and penalties contained in Obamacare. What Americans care about is "What is it going to cost me?" Sure, the Republicans can holler that the president lied when saying that the health reform costs were not taxes. And the Democrats can stick with the falsehood that the now constitutionally defined taxes are still penalties. The reality is that are no new costs in Obamacare. They have been there all along. But most Americans never knew (Ronald Bachman, 7/16).

Des Moines Register: Palmer Will Have A Big Medicaid Role
When Iowans elected Gov. Terry Branstad, they got his political appointees, too. … But the appointment of Chuck Palmer to head the Department of Human Services a second time was a gift to the people of Iowa. … Palmer stands out as someone who understands the challenges people face in the real world — beyond the politics and bureaucracy that sometimes plague government (7/16).

St. Louis Beacon:  Missouri Should Say 'No' To Medicaid Expansion
The federal government is offering a grace period of several years in which it will pick up essentially all of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, scheduled to begin in 2014, if individual states commit to spending money of their own in years to follow.  Over 10 years, Missouri would need to commit to spending about $430 million to qualify for $8.4 billion in additional Medicaid grants from the federal government.  If that looks and sounds almost too good to be true, it is because it literally is too good to be true (Andrew B. Wilson, 7/16).

The Hill: Medicine Today: A Battle On Two Fronts
I have growing concerns that personalized medicine will not be fully realized. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its progeny are likely to reduce funding just where it is needed the most: for research on molecular pathways associated with cancer, inflammation, and chronic diseases. These research areas are often not the exciting, romantic fields that attract the most funding, yet their funding is critical. Worse, the ACA will entomb "the centuries-old diagnostic practice of empirical medicine" (and, unfortunately, an extremely poor version of that) so that personalized medicine is never allowed to fully blossom. It will die on the vine, its full potential left unrealized (Dr. Timothy Craig Allen, 7/16).

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