Viewpoints: Lower health spending is welcome news; media bias against health law success

Published on July 17, 2014 at 2:56 AM · No Comments

The New York Times' The Upshot: Expected Health Spending Declines -; Again
The last few years have seen a puzzling and welcome new trend in health care spending: Instead of going up and up, increases have slowed way down. Since health care costs are growing more slowly than they have in decades, they're making budget forecasts look better and better (Margot Sanger-Katz, 7/15).

The Wall Street Journal: The Hobby Lobby Decision And Its Distortions
In the days since the Supreme Court's June 30 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, we have been troubled by those who seem eager to misrepresent both the facts of the case and the impact of its ruling on women-;all to divide Americans and score political points in a tough election year. The biggest distortion: the #NotMyBossBusiness campaign on Twitter, which falsely suggests that under the ruling employers can deny their employees access to birth control (Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., 7/15).

JAMA Internal Medicine: The Supreme Court Decision In The Hobby Lobby Case
A large, family-owned company, Hobby Lobby, objected to including contraceptive coverage-;specifically, intrauterine devices and emergency contraception-;in their employees' health insurance because the owners viewed these forms of birth control as "abortions." But, consistent with a disturbing trend among courts and legislatures to misstate or misuse scientific information in the context of women's reproductive rights and health, the Supreme Court's decision ignored the well-accepted distinction between contraception and abortion. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito disallowed any inquiry into whether the company owners' definition of abortion or views on complicity were reasonable (R. Alta Charo, 7/14).

The Washington Post: Obamacare Doesn't Cover Media Bias. No Wonder It's Not More Popular.
The Affordable Care Act -; also known as the ACA, Obamacare, the Devil's Spawn, depending on your orientation -; pretty clearly appears to be doing what it's supposed to be doing: covering the uninsured and controlling costs. Yet it certainly doesn't seem to be getting' the love from the press at anything like the rate that it got bashed after its lame rollout. Analysts at the Urban Institute have been tracking the share of the adult population without coverage and in a particularly useful way: by comparing states with and without the Medicaid expansion. While the ACA is of course in effect in all states, 21 states have thus far decided not to take advantage of the Medicaid expansion offered by the law. Thus, we have a sort of natural experiment (Jared Bernstein, 7/15). 

The Wall Street Journal: What's Trending In Health Care? Conservative Ideas.
Conservative criticism of the Affordable Care Act has created the impression that liberal, "big government" ideas are driving the health-care system. But plenty of ideas that conservatives like are taking hold in health care as well (Drew Altman, 7/15). 

Bloomberg: Obamacare Isn't Hurting Democrats
Democrats received a bit of good news in two Marist/NBC Senate polls today showing Mark Udall in Colorado and Gary Peters in Michigan holding solid, though not especially large, leads. Throw these results into the polling averages, and Democrats appear to be ahead in both states. Neither race is a must-win for Republicans to get to a 51-seat Senate majority. However, the more live targets, the better the chances for Republicans to get the six seats they need (Jonathan Bernstein, 7/15).

The Chicago Tribune: An Unwelcome Surprise From The Cook County Health System
CountyCare -; that's Cook County's attempt to leverage federal dollars through a Medicaid managed care program -; is in a heap of trouble. Expenses outstripped revenues by $21 million in the first six months of the county's fiscal year, through May 31. The shortfall is expected to grow to $63.5 million by the end of the fiscal year, Nov. 30. That's driving a projected $85.9 million shortfall in the 2014 Cook County budget (7/14).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: Boehner's 'Political Stunt' Will Lead To Obama's Impeachment
The speaker is planning to sue the president because he allegedly "created his own law" by waiving the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Many in this town believe that Boehner's litigiousness is part of a larger strategy to keep his raucous caucus at bay on impeachment of Obama. ... Politically, the Boehner suit is a fool's errand because it won't do what he wants it do. Rather than tamp down talk of impeaching Obama, it will lead to an increased clamor for it (Jonathan Capehart, 7/15).

Bloomberg: Doctors For The 1 Percent
While health wonks have been focused on the effects of Obamacare, another change has been happening, intertwined with the new law but worth thinking about separately: How is growing income inequality affecting the delivery of health care? And is that change for the better? ... It's unclear how far the U.S. health-care system will move in that direction. The slice of the population that's willing and able to pay for specialty care in cash is small; the share of physicians in cash-only practices was just 6 percent last year. But that's double the level from 2011. And if the income gap keeps growing, so will the number of doctors who can find enough cash-only patients to stop taking insurance (Christopher Flavelle, 7/14).

Los Angeles Times: An Overdue Response To The Frenzy Of State Restrictions On Abortion
In the last few years, state legislators around the country have been busy with an onslaught of antiabortion legislation aimed at making it impossible for women to exercise what is still (despite the opposition's best efforts) a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. And while it's unclear exactly why there has been such a frenzy of activity -; conservative victories in 2010? Reignition of the culture wars sparked by the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate? -; we do know that more than four times as many bills aimed at limiting abortion access (93) were passed between 2011 and 2013 than had been passed in the previous decade (22) (Robin Abcarian, 7/15).

Charlotte Observer: A Prescription For Saving Lives
Deaths from unintentional poisoning – mostly prescription drug abuse – have jumped nearly 300 percent over the past decade in North Carolina, according a report. From 1999 to 2012, deaths from the most addictive prescription drugs spiked 400 percent. Today, more North Carolinians die from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin, cocaine and alcohol overdoses combined, and about the same number die from it as do in traffic accidents. The analysis – from the General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division – found several flaws with the way North Carolina monitors and tries to prevent this tragic situation. Its recommendations for improving the system now sit in a legislative committee, stalled while lawmakers negotiate over teacher pay and Medicaid spending (7/15).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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