Viewpoints: Medicare may be unintended victim of bank crisis; Health care industry's fears of law's reversal

Published on April 12, 2012 at 10:50 AM · No Comments

The New York Times: Economix: How The Banks Endangered Medicare
The banks' actions led directly to an increase in government debt, which in turn has made the reduction of that debt by "cutting runaway spending" a centerpiece of the Republican presidential campaign to date. As a result of this pressure, Medicare now stands on the brink of being eliminated as a viable form of social insurance. Yet the executives who lead these banks – and the politicians with whom they work closely – will not be held accountable this election season (Simon Johnson, 4/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Faust Visits The Insurance Lobby
Liberals are still reeling from the Supreme Court's oral arguments on ObamaCare, but they've got nothing on the health-care industry. Most of its biggest players backed the White House because they figured the individual mandate to buy insurance would give them a huge new customer base. Now they may get stuck with all the new regulations but without the mandate (4/11).

Fox Business: Health Insurers Should Stop Paying For Painkiller Abuse
The contents of the nation's medicine cabinets are likely impacting the cost of your health insurance. Back in 2007, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF), an alliance of consumer groups, insurance companies and government agencies, reported that misuse of prescription painkillers was costing health insurers more than $72.5 billion a year. ... Health insurance companies are aware of the problem and its staggering cost to all consumers, says Susan Pisano, spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans. "We strongly agree that prescription drug abuse is a concern, not only in terms of the extra burden on health care but most importantly in terms of patient safety," she says. Still, painkiller abuse poses a dilemma for health plans. Insurers aren't able to refuse to pay for valid prescriptions that are covered under a policy (Beth Orenstein, 4/11).

The Fiscal Times: The Health Cost That Can Ruin the Economy
There is no disease that needs health innovations more than Alzheimer's, a disease that is directly correlated with aging and it is already consuming one percent of global GDP.  Not only is the Alzheimer's trajectory fiscally unsustainable, but it's also immoral for us to address the tragic human suffering it creates only through better care. ... Without innovations to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure it, Alzheimer's is, according to Dr. Peter Piot, former head of UNAIDS, a global "time bomb". ... it is time for our presidential candidates to also get serious and honest  about health policy fit for this century's demographics truths (Michael Hodin, 4/11).

Chicago Sun-Times: How To Keep Teen Birth Rates Low
The best national news story of the week might be this: Teen births are at their lowest level in almost 70 years. … sexually active teens finally are getting the message that being a mom at so young an age is a terrible idea, and so they are using contraception more. Equally important, contraceptives are more easily available, prescribed more readily, often even provided at school-based clinics (4/11).

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