Viewpoints: WSJ on 'super committee'; NEJM perspectives on medical devices

The Wall Street Journal: Super Committee Choices 
At bottom, the recent deal was meant to defer the bedrock choices that need another election or two to resolve while making incremental progress. So the current exercise is about rooting out $1.5 trillion in "savings," which will mean a hodgepodge of changes at the margin, not a rewrite of either entitlements or taxes. If bigger change were possible, Speaker John Boehner and President Obama would have agreed to it (8/11).

Seattle Times: Sen. Patty Murray's Deficit-Panel Duty: Compromise, Leadership
The people of Washington should be pleased that their senior senator, Patty Murray, is one of the 12 out of 535 members of Congress named to the deficit-reduction panel. ... In the tradition of Warren Magnuson, she is known for getting federal money for her home state. She has also been a champion of social programs ... Some Democratic groups are already urging Murray to block any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She cannot promise this, and it is unfair to ask it of her (8/10). 

The Wall Street Journal: Three Simple Ways Medicare Can Save Money
The most significant reason for our out-of-control deficit spending is health care. And the biggest federal health-care program is Medicare. That's why almost everybody—on the right and the left— agrees that Medicare must be reformed. ... doctors face perverse incentives to provide care that is costlier and less appropriate than the care they should be providing (John C. Goodman, 8/11). 

The Philadelphia Inquirer: It's Free Gov't Sex
On Aug. 1, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new rule for health insurers mandating that contraceptives must be provided to insured women without any co-pay or other cost. ... Keep in mind that, just because the contraceptives will be free to the women who get them, they will not be without cost to the insurers. To cover that cost, the insurers will have to increase premiums to all insureds. You and I will be paying for someone else's recreation (Howard Lurie, 8/11). 

The National Review: Contraception By Fiat
The Supreme Court decided decades ago that access to birth control is a constitutional right. Now, the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services has decided that access to "free" birth control is a right, too. Under new HHS regulations, which the department is authorized to create under Obamacare, insurance plans will be required to cover birth control  ... Of course, insurance companies don't provide anything for "free." Any time they cover a new service or eliminate co-pays, they charge higher premiums to make up the lost revenue. So the department is forcing people who do not use birth control to subsidize it, through higher premiums, for people who do (8/5).

New England Journal of Medicine: Perspective: Medical Devices -- Balancing Regulation and Innovation
Many Americans benefit from the implantation of medical devices, such as artificial joints and lifesaving defibrillators. Tragically, many also suffer or even die from complications related to medical devices that were never studied in clinical trials before being implanted in patients. As devices have evolved and become more complex, our device-approval system has become incapable of assuring safety and effectiveness. The system we use today was created 35 years ago in an era of much simpler and fewer devices, and it is now outdated. ... is essential that the FDA be adequately funded to carry out its mission to ensure the safety and effectiveness of medical devices (Drs. Gregory D. Curfman and Rita F. Redberg, 8/10).

New England Journal of Medicine: Medical Devices and Health -- Creating a New Regulatory Framework for Moderate-Risk Devices
Each year, several thousand devices — about one third of devices entering the market — are cleared through the 510(k) process. Although the continuous use of many of these devices in clinical practice provides a level of confidence in their safety and effectiveness, what patients want is reasonable assurance that a device is clinically effective and that its benefits outweigh its risks — not merely an indication that it is substantially equivalent to another device. ... Now is the time to move forward with designing a comprehensive regulatory framework for the next 35 years and beyond (Dr. David R. Challoner and William W. Vodra, 8/10).

New England Journal of Medicine: Perspective: Impossible? Outlawing State Safety Laws for Generic Drugs
The question in Pliva v. Mensing, which the Supreme Court decided on June 23, 2011, was whether the safety standards for brand-name drug labeling also apply to generic-drug manufacturers. ... [The court ruled] federal law still preempted injured patients from bringing lawsuits in state courts ... Congress or the FDA can change the Supreme Court's conclusion. Better postmarketing surveillance should be combined with a more proactive FDA to ensure adequate labeling of all the drugs available for physicians to prescribe (Leonard H. Glantz and George J. Annas, 8/10).


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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