KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Shouldering The Health Costs Of The ‘Irresponsible’; Learning From the Parallels Between Obamacare And The ‘War On Terror’

Chicago Tribune: The Imagination Goes Wild: Paying For The Health Care Of The Irresponsible
The central idea of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the formal name of the Obamacare law — emphasized in the hearings is to spread the cost of health care to ever-larger pools of Americans. In particular, to those who pay low health insurance premiums, the young who choose to have no insurance and the healthy (Dennis Byrne, 4/3).

McClatchy: Health Care Mandate Is About Personal Responsibility
Following the debate over the Affordable Care Act has reminded me of that old saw, everybody wants to get to heaven but nobody wants to die. … The problem we've long had with balancing our books is that we too frequently demand things for which we don’t want to pay. The individual mandate is unpopular largely because it threatens to shift that paradigm (Issac J. Bailey, 4/3).

The Washington Post: The War On Terror And Obamacare: Mirror Images
As policies, Obamacare and George W. Bush's war on terror have almost nothing in common. ... Yet from the Supreme Court's perspective, they pose practically the same question: How much more authority over individuals can the federal government assume, consistent with the Founders' notion of limited and enumerated powers? ... In cases stemming from the war on terrorism, the court consistently ruled against the Bush administration. ... The justices were not willing to let the government claim unlimited powers of arrest and detention, even in the name of such a good cause as national security (Charles Lane, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: What To Do On The Day After ObamaCare
Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the administration's health law, aka ObamaCare. Opponents are giddy with the possibility that the law might be struck down. But what then? Millions of uninsured, both those who choose not to purchase coverage and those who can't due to pre-existing conditions, will still be with us. The rising costs and inefficient delivery of health care will still be with us (Cochrane, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Vs. Marbury V. Madison
President Obama is a former president of the Harvard Law Review and famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. But did he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison? That's a fair question after Mr. Obama's astonishing remarks on Monday at the White House when he ruminated for the first time in public on the Supreme Court's recent ObamaCare deliberations. "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," he declared (4/2). 

The Washington Post: Obama's Unsettling Attack On The Supreme Court
And yet, Obama's assault on "an unelected group of people" stopped me cold. Because, as the former constitutional law professor certainly understands, it is the essence of our governmental system to vest in the court the ultimate power to decide the meaning of the constitution. Even if, as the president said, it means overturning "a duly constituted and passed law" (Ruth Marcus, 4/2).

The Washington Post: The Real Reason SCOTUS Could Save POTUS
Obamacare may be President Obama's proudest legislative achievement, but the fact is it has been a political disaster for Democrats. The unpopular law has galvanized Obama's conservative opponents, driven away moderates and independents, and hung like an albatross around the neck of the U.S. economy. A decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the law in its entirety could be the best thing that ever happened to Obama's prospects for reelection (Marc A. Thiessen, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Capital Journal: Court Lands On Campaign's Front Lines
Regardless of the judicial outcome, the Supreme Court's coming decision on the health-care overhaul will have one clear political impact: It guarantees the court will be with us for the next seven months as a front-line campaign topic. This will excite activists of the left and the right. It will be less thrilling for already-jaundiced independent voters in the middle, who spend a lot less time thinking about the virtues and demerits of, say, Justice Antonin Scalia than do the ideologues. And it surely isn't great for the Supreme Court itself (Gerald F. Seib, 4/2).

USA Today: Why Justice Kennedy Should Rule 'No'
Justice Anthony Kennedy is, in a sense, the king of the United States of America. As the deciding vote on the U.S. Supreme Court in dozens of important cases where the liberals and conservatives are evenly divided, he has become, in effect, a jurisprudential monarch (hence columnist Mark Steyn's nickname for him, "the Sultan of Swing"). He has been the final word on everything from the 2000 Bush-Gore presidential election to partial-birth abortion and terrorist detention. And now he will, in all likelihood, decide the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act— aka ObamaCare (Jonah Goldberg, 4/2).

The Washington Post: The Flawed Case Against Donald Verrilli
A Supreme Court argument was never intended to be a public-speaking contest in which each contestant has an equal chance to showcase his ability to deliver a polished oration. All of the justices may interrupt at any time — out of puzzlement, to test his or her tentative views of a case, or to persuade other justices of his or her view. Oral argument is the time to address the issues on the justices' minds. The advocate does not get to ask for time to complete a thought. He or she has to break off mid-sentence to address whatever question is asked (Feldman, 4/2).

The Baltimore Sun: The Supreme Court Should Be Televised
Nothing has focused as much attention on the Supreme Court since the 2000 Florida election recount case as last week's arguments over the constitutionality of President Obama's health care act. The outcome, expected this summer, will hang ominously over this year's presidential campaign until then, and beyond. … While virtually all other aspects of the American political system at work can today be observed directly by the citizenry, either live or on taped rebroadcast on television, the Supreme Court in session remains essentially in the dark (Jules Witcover, 4/3).

Politico: Battle Hymn Of The Anti-Abortion Feminist
In the ongoing debate over women’s health care, one voice has been mostly absent: that of the anti-abortion feminist. ... But women are not a monolith. And there is a growing group of passionate young women who are transforming what it means to be a woman. Allow me to introduce them to you. We are women who reject both the anti-male feminism of the 1960s and the "girls gone wild" mentality that’s pervasive today (Lila Rose, 4/2).

JAMA: High-Quality, Affordable Health Care Is a "Greater Freedom"
This week’s historic hearings at the US Supreme Court were political as much as they were constitutional. The justices borrowed the Republican framing of health care reform as one of individual freedom rather than the public's health. However, high-quality, affordable health care is the "greater freedom," as I explain in taking readers through the critical arguments at the Supreme Court (Lawrence Gostin, 4/2).

Boston Globe: Health Care Vs. Sick Care: Why Prevention Is Essential To Payment Reform
The foundation of our current health care system is the treatment of illness and disease rather than the promotion of good health. If we created the conditions to make it possible for people to take better care of themselves, countless medical conditions such as type II diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity could be prevented. And the treatment of these diseases is what leads to skyrocketing health care costs (Thomas M. Menino and Paula Johnson, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Antitrust Enlightenment
Too often modern antitrust policy seems to exist to justify the existence of the antitrust cops, not to defend competition. Recall the Federal Trade Commission's dogging of the Whole Foods bid to buy Wild Oats—would consumers ever be able to buy arugula again? So a round of applause for the FTC for committing antitrust heresy and signing off Monday on the $29.1 billion Express Scripts acquisition of Medco Health Solutions (4/2).

Seattle Times: A Lesson In Public-School Health Coverage From Oregon
Oregon made the change to consolidate health-insurance plans for its public school employees in 2007 and is saving about $45 million a year. If Washington made the same change — and it should — the state auditor estimated it could save as much as $90 million (4/2).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Case For Universal Care At the State Level
Surely few of us are satisfied with the way things are, or are convinced that the Affordable Care Act is the final reform, even if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds it. So let's hold onto the "unified and universal" option for Minnesota, with the knowledge that we can afford a system in which all newborns can be assured the essential human dignity of access to life-giving care, from the moment they enter the world until they draw their last breath (Amy Lange, 4/2).

WBUR’s CommonHealth blog: What Med Students Learn From Sticking With Their Patients
This Monday, my internal medicine supervising physician and I saw Helen's bald head for the first time. "Do you want to see it?" she asked. And, with our encouragement, she slowly removed her caramel-colored wig. ... Helen (not her real name) is one of nearly 500 patients I have seen as part of my third year at the Cambridge Health Alliance. I am one of ten students in this year's Harvard Medical School-Cambridge Integrated Clerkship, an innovative model for third year medical education that centers learning on the experience of the patient (Altaf Saadi, 4/2).

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