Viewpoints: Health law's individual mandate, fighting the deficit by pinching health care pennies

The New York Times: Dumbing Deficits Down
Like anyone who writes regularly about what passes for economic and fiscal debate in American politics, I've developed a strong tolerance for nonsense. After all, if I got upset every time powerful people were illogical and/or dishonest, I'd spend every waking hour in a state of raging despair. ... if you're serious about deficits, you shouldn't be pinching pennies now; you should be looking for ways to rein in health spending over the long term. And that means taking exactly the steps that had those G.O.P. staffers sneering (Paul Krugman, 3/10). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare And The Truth About 'Cost Shifting'
The centerpiece of the court battle over ObamaCare's constitutionality is the law's mandate that most U.S. residents obtain health insurance. To justify the mandate, the administration and Congress have asserted that people with private insurance pay for care for the uninsured through "cost shifting"—higher prices charged by doctors and hospitals to recover losses from uncompensated care. ... But how strong is the evidence for this proposition?  (John F. Cogan, R. Glenn Hubbard and Daniel Kessler, 3/11). 

The Des Moines Register: Drop Mandate From Insurance Plan 
Americans can't purchase coverage in a government program like Medicare. Instead, many will be required -- mandated by law -- to get coverage from private-sector insurance companies. ... But state lawmakers have to craft the details of state-based exchanges or the federal government will do it for them. And that presents yet another opportunity for elected officials to screw something up when it comes to health reform by trying to cater to special interests (3/10).

Solutions (a Colorado health news service): Gardner Playing Politics With Health Care
Last month, the U.S. House passed Rep. Cory Gardner's amendment to the continuing federal budget resolution that would defund salaries for government employees working on the state health insurance exchanges. In his quest to score political points, Gardner put forth and built support among his colleagues for an amendment to do away with funding for one of the most important pieces of the federal health-care reform legislation (Hillary Jorgensen, 3/9). 

McClatchy: Health Care Repeal Will Hurt People With Disabilities
There are two vital provisions in the health-care law that are the result of pressure exerted by activists with disabilities. … I'm not crazy about the mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance without a reasonable public option. But much of the health care law is worth fighting for -- especially these provisions for disabled Americans (Mike Ervin, 3/10). 

Kaiser Health News: The Donald Berwick Predicament
We can't evaluate the backstage politics, but one thing is certain. Both Democrats and Republicans should be dismayed at the sight of a partisan campaign driving yet another distinguished figure out of American government. ... You might think there is some genuine issue regarding Berwick's professional stature, his experience, his integrity or his job performance. There isn't (Harold Pollack and Dr. Christopher Lillis, 3/11).

USA Today: If Aging Parent Falters, Is Your Family Ready?
There's another lesson, though, and I suspect it's one that can apply to millions of American families: Mom's diagnosis was a good wake-up call for us. My family clearly hadn't thought about, or planned for, Mom getting older. It just sneaks up on you (Joyce King, 3/10). 
Los Angeles Times: Anthem To Boost Deductibles On Some Individual Plans 
You soon may not be able to judge your cost for healthcare by the name on the PPO insurance plan. For example, the PPO Share 500 plan will have a $550 deductible. ... If that's not a breach of contract, it certainly smacks of a bait and switch (David Lazarus, 3/10).

The Seattle Times: Pregnancy 'Clinics' Bait And Switch
[A] bill that required so-called "limited service pregnancy clinics" to disclose what they do and do not provide — namely, abortion and family planning services — failed to pass through the Legislature this week. The bill would have required clinics to state up front (over the phone, e-mail or in person) if they do not provide abortion or birth-control services. ... The bill's failure allows a bait and switch to be performed on the state's most vulnerable women: Those who need to know if they're pregnant, and what their options are — all of them (Nicole Brodeur, 3/10). 

Politico: Plain Soap And Water Will Do
When we use an "antibacterial" soap, we're usually dosing our hands with triclosan. ... In 1974, the FDA warned that triclosan required more study because of concerns about its safety and effectiveness. It has taken 37 years — and counting — for regulators to take action to limit exposure to this chemical. In our view, such action is long overdue (Reps. Ed Markey and Louise Slaughter, 3/11). 

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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