Viewpoints: Sen. Hatch's prescription for safeguarding entitlements; Medicare crackdown on CVS drug program; JFK's mental health vision failing

Published on February 5, 2013 at 10:57 PM · No Comments

Politico: 5 Entitlement Reforms For Better Fiscal Course
American families are used to working with dollar amounts starting with hundreds and thousands. But the fiscal situation of our country requires us to act in terms of billions and trillions. ... Unfortunately, waiting until the last minute to stop a crisis has become standard operating procedure in Washington. But that isn't how we should be tackling our debt or safeguarding Medicare and Medicaid (Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, 2/4).

USA Today: Benefit Programs Shouldn't Be Cut: Opposing View
We must reject efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare in the name of debt reduction. A recent national poll shows that most Americans, across party lines, reject benefit cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit. Older Americans paid for their benefits with each paycheck, and they are owed the benefits they paid for (Hank Johnson, 2/4).

USA Today: Automatic Spending Cuts Just Dumb And Dumber: Our View
In a little less than a month, assuming that Congress is not overtaken by a sudden case of sanity, automatic spending cuts totaling $1 trillion over nine years will go into effect. ... The sequestration would take money from the one-third of federal spending that funds core government functions such as national defense, law enforcement and education. That might be OK if it also tackled the real problem: the benefit programs -; such as Social Security and Medicare -; that account for three-fifths of spending and are exploding in cost. It doesn't (2/4).

The New York Times: A Convenient Morality
Last week, the Obama administration proposed a further tweak to its rules about insurance coverage of contraception, trying to quiet religious organizations' complaints that the edict tramples on their beliefs. Roman Catholic officials have been especially vociferous. Their moral conviction, they insist, cannot be slave to secular convention. Except, that is, when it works to their advantage (Frank Bruni, 2/4).

The Washington Post: Obama's New Contraception Rules Try To Fool Catholics
The Obama administration's latest revision of its contraceptive policy was welcomed by some religious people as a breakthrough, even a "miracle." Upon reflection, it seems less like the parting of the Red Sea than a parlor trick (Michael Gerson, 2/4).

Los Angeles Times: CVS's Medicare Drug Program Causing Headaches For Enrollees
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a letter to CVS' SilverScript subsidiary that its inability to process prescriptions correctly "poses a serious threat to the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries." The federal agency blamed the problems on "widespread data system failures" that have "created disruptions in tens of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries' access to prescription medications" (David Lazarus, 2/5). 

The Wall Street Journal: Fifty Years Of Failing America's Mentally Ill
On Feb. 5, 1963, 50 years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy addressed Congress on "Mental Illness and Mental Retardation." He proposed a new program under which the federal government would fund community mental-health centers, or CMHCs, to take the place of state mental hospitals. As Kennedy envisioned it, "reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolations will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability" (E. Fuller Torrey, 2/4). 

The Wall Street Journal: The GOP's ObamaCare Flippers
As D-Day looms for ObamaCare, one big question is how many states will sign up for its Medicaid expansion. The recent and spectacular flip-flop of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is a case study in the political pressure and fiscal gimmicks designed to get states to succumb. It's also a study in the arcane and perverse ObamaCare incentives that are intended to gather ever more health-care spending under federal control (2/4).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Makes Us Sick
In his budget address Tuesday, Gov. Corbett is expected to highlight plans for corralling the staggering costs of state-employee pension obligations. In many ways, the pensions paid to some workers -- particularly lawmakers -- is a story of privilege and plenty. Lawmakers can collect their full pensions, averaging $35,000 a year, at age 50. (State employees wait until age 60, and theirs average $23,000 a year.) These numbers are important to remember when looking at the flip side: the millions of families in the state who make far less in salaries than state employees make in pensions. That's why we're more interested in whether Corbett will finally decide to expand Medicaid -- a key part of the Affordable Care Act (2/5).

The Hill: Time To Help States Make Lemonade On Issue Of Long-Term Care?
The enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 averted the so-called fiscal cliff, but it also repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act that was intended to create a public mechanism to help people pay for long-term services and supports if they become disabled. ... Meanwhile, the private long-term-care-insurance industry has imploded (Lee Goldberg, 2/4).

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