Viewpoints: Will GOP back away from Medicaid plan too?; exchanges geared to politics, not health

The New York Times: Could It Have Been The Polls
All but seven House Republicans voted for a budget plan last month that would eliminate Medicare's guarantee to the elderly. It was always bad policy. But now that the vote has proved to be wildly unpopular, the party is suddenly running in the opposite direction. ... Will the party also back off cuts it supported to Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants and Head Start? It should. But we suspect it won't because the low-income beneficiaries of those programs are not their usual supporters and don't vote in the same large numbers (5/5).

Denver Post: Guest Commentary: Don't Get Mugged By A Politically Controlled Insurance Exchange
Exchanges sound like a way to mitigate problems caused by politicians' bad policies. But you shouldn't trust government to run them any more that you'd let that thug drive you to the hospital. Government-run exchanges mean politicians and government bureaucrats control them (Brian T. Schwartz, 5/6).

Kaiser Health News: Guest Opinion: The Real Impact Of Cutting Medicaid - Just When We Need It The Most
I wish that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., architect of the House Republican budget plan ... had the responsibility of helping an intellectually disabled person with a nasty toothache, when the state Medicaid program no longer covers dental care. Ryan's proposals won't become law anytime soon. Still, they exemplify this political moment's misguided mood and priorities. During the worst recession in decades, we are cutting needed services precisely when the need for them has grown (Harold Pollack, 5/5). 

Kaiser Health News Guest Opinion: Yes, Cut Medicaid - It Won't Be As Painful As You Think
The president and the Republicans agree that balancing the federal budget is impossible without restraining Medicaid spending. That will be much easier … if we could stop pretending that every single Medicaid enrollee needs to be there. ... An entire cottage industry of elder-law attorneys has emerged to help seniors qualify for Medicaid without spending down their wealth. All of which means that if states reduce eligibility for their highest-means enrollees, many will obtain private coverage themselves (Michael Cannon, 5/5).

McClatchy / (Minneapolis) Star Tribune: Money Will Never Buy Immortality
A debate of sorts is underway, of course, largely between President Obama and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House budget committee. Focused on the ruinously mounting costs of the federal government's big health-care programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- their faceoff is a good thing so far as it goes. Unfortunately, the discussion quickly goes in circles thanks to a nearly universal eagerness to ignore the big tragic reality about health care. What I mean is absurdly obvious, but apparently it needs to be said: The basic trouble with health care is that it always fails in the end (D.J. Tice, 5/5).  
iWatch (Center for Public Integrity): Are Insurers Writing The Health Reform Regulations?
[I]nsurance company lobbyists know the media are not paying much attention [to the health law implementation]. And so they are able to influence what the regulations actually look like—and how the law will be enforced—with little scrutiny, much less awareness. ... Consumer advocates who have been in meetings at the White House in recent weeks say they believe the administration is bending over backward to accommodate the insurers (Wendell Potter, 5/6). 

The Miami Herald: VA Healthcare Still Needs Improvement
All is still not well at the Veterans Administration's hospitals, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, which conducted a follow-up review more than two years after thousands of veterans were put at risk of disease because of lax sterilization practices. This is simply unacceptable for the agency upon whom literally millions of veterans — men and women, newly returned from Afghanistan or aging World War II warriors — depend for healthcare and other services (5/5). 

Los Angeles Times: Diagnosis As Disease
One of the first things we were taught in medical school was the pivotal role of thresholds in governing the human body. To trigger a nerve to fire or a muscle to contract, there must be a stimulus of electrical activity that exceeds a threshold value. If the threshold value is too low, muscles go into spasm and deadly rhythms develop in the heart. Low thresholds, however, aren't just a problem for an individual's health. They are increasingly a problem for the health of our medical care system. The threshold for diagnosis has fallen too low. Physicians are now making diagnoses in individuals who wouldn't have been considered sick in the past (Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, 5/6). 

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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