KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Longer Looks: Best Health Policy Picks From Thought-Provoking Publications

Every Thursday, we feature a selection of thought-provoking pieces from a variety of sources.

PBS Newshour: Medicare Investigation Prompts Reflections On A Mother's Care
Last week, in the largest nationwide bust of its kind ever, more than 700 federal agents fanned out from Miami to Los Angeles and rounded up 111 doctors, nurses, physical therapists and health company executives in nine cities. … I followed all of this with great interest … In the months before my mother's death last year, I had become increasingly disillusioned with a group of doctors who were under contract to her nursing home and wondered whether they were billing Medicare for services they did not perform. ... as her only child with power of attorney, I watched with alarm as her medical condition began to deteriorate almost as soon as she entered the skilled nursing facility. Her dementia grew worse. Some days she thought she was on a trip to Chicago (a city she had never lived in) (Betty Ann Bowser, 2/22).

The National Journal: Nursing-Home Blues
Even as congressional Republicans work feverishly to repeal the health care law in its entirety, the Obama administration has acknowledged that a piece of its overhaul will need an overhaul. A little-publicized section of the sprawling health care legislation, creating a government-run insurance program for long-term care, has drawn fire not only from Republicans but also from budget-conscious Democrats. Earlier this month, in a speech to the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that ignoring critics' concerns would be "irresponsible." She promised a rethinking of the mix of premiums, benefits, and eligibility to ensure that the program can, as intended, pay for itself. Her speech was taken as a signal that the administration is serious about making significant changes (Meghan McCarthy, 2/17).

TIME: Why British Doctors May Read Mammograms Better
Critics of the new health reform law say their worst fear is that the U.S. medical system will become more like the one in the United Kingdom. But what if this was a good thing? A new study suggests that in one area of health care - reading mammograms - the British way may be better. There, radiologists are permitted to interpret "screening mammograms" - those performed on women without symptoms or signs of cancer - only if they review at least 5,000 per year. The U.S. minimum threshold, enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is just 960 ... every two years. The result, say researchers, is that the rate of false positives - women erroneously told they have cancer or signs of cancer - is far higher in the U.S. than in the U.K. (Kate Pickert, 2/23).

The Weekly Standard: Obama Administration Still Promoting Obamacare By Paying Taxpayer Money To Google, Bing, Ask, and Yahoo!
If you type "Obamacare" into a search engine - whether Google, Bing, or Ask - you'll find that the first site that appears at the top of the page is healthcare.gov. That site will tell you everything you want to know - or, rather, everything the Obama administration wants you to know (and nothing that it doesn't want you to know) - about Obamacare. And it comes up first, before anything else, because your tax dollars are paying for it to come up first. The same is true on Yahoo!, except that Yahoo! lists a few unpaid links above the first paid link. At healthcare.gov, you'll benefit from the type of objective review of Obamacare that only the Obama administration can provide (Jeffrey H. Anderson, 2/23).

The New Republic: Public Workers Aren't Walker's Only Target
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal has gotten a lot of attention for what it would do to the state's public employee unions. ... [But] that's not all Walker's budget proposal would do. It appears that Walker also wants to weaken the state's Medicaid program, known as Badgercare. And his proposed method for accomplishing this is eerily similar to his proposed method for emasculating the public employee unions. Rather than simply trying to reduce what the state government spends on Badgercare, Walker proposes to change the way the state government operates it, in a way that would allow him to change the program with virtually no legislative oversight (Jonathan Cohn, 2/22). 

Salon: Why Men Need To Speak Up About Abortion
My mother doesn't hide the fact that she had an abortion, but she also does not talk about it freely or with ease. I did not find out that she had an abortion until I was in my mid-20s. … The story goes like this: A year and a half after my mother and father welcomed my sister into the world, my mother found herself pregnant for the second time. Early in the pregnancy there were complications that put the health of the fetus and my mother at risk. After careful and difficult deliberation my mother and father chose to end the pregnancy. No one was happy about the choice, it was not approached in a cavalier fashion, but my mother and father decided it was the safest course of action, and the one that was in the best interest of the entire family. A year later my mother was pregnant with me. In a weird way, I owe my life to an abortion (Traister, 2/22).

The Daily Show: Stork Bucks
Kristen Schaal describes efforts to cut funding for any organization that has anything to do with abortions, including firefighters, the FAA and NASA (2/22).

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