Viewpoints: Mixing Obama and Ryan's plans, cancer rationing and stalling federal aid

The Washington Post: Mix Obamacare And Paul Ryan's Plan To Get A Better Safety Net For Americans
What has been revealed is that the systems set up during an industrial era to provide health care, retirement income and support during economic downturns are inadequate for and ill-suited to our post-industrial, globalized economy. ... one can imagine a system in which all workers and nonworkers are required to buy insurance from the government-regulated exchanges being set up in each region or state under the Obama health-care reform plan. In lieu of the tax exemption for employer-paid health insurance that benefits the rich and encourages lavish coverage, everyone would get a voucher to help pay for policies offered at the exchange, which could range from low-premium, high-deductible policies to cover "catastrophic" illness to high-premium policies that cover virtually everything (Steven Pearlstein, 10/1).

The Washington Post: Mind The Medigap
Given the irrational structure of Medicare, Medigap policies serve an important function. But they also play a less productive role. Many of the them provide what's called first-dollar coverage, reimbursing all deductibles and co-payments. This structure insulates seniors from the economic consequences of their health-care choices and, studies suggest, drives up costs (10/1).

Roll Call: Paulsen And Gerlach: Medical Device Tax Hinders Innovation
When asked earlier this year in a House committee hearing about the new tax on medical devices that will take effect in 2013, the secretary of Health and Human Services called the $20 billion tax "modest." ... A new study by two noted economists ... has found that, under reasonable assumptions, the medical device excise tax will result in 43,000 lost jobs and $3.5 billion in vanished wages and benefits. That's a tremendous blow to a reeling economy (Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jim Gerlach, 10/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Cancer Care's Rationers
The Lancet last week published the findings of its international 37-expert commission on "Delivering Affordable Cancer Care in High-Income Countries." The prestigious British medical journal's broadside against oncology's "culture of excess" is drawing notice in medical circles and especially fevered attention in the land of the National Health Service. But readers interested in the medical options -; or lack thereof -; that ObamaCare will soon deliver should take note as well (10/3).

Houston Chronicle: Finally, Some Good News On The Uninsured
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau on health insurance coverage confirm what parents all over Texas will tell you: Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are lifelines for our state's children. A congressional super committee created by the recent federal budget is working on a new round of budget-balancing proposals. It's critical for our kids, our parents, our friends and neighbors and our health care jobs that they find solutions that protect the federal government's commitment to Medicaid (Anne Dunkelberg, Eileen Garcia and Laura Guerra-Cardus, 10/2).

Palm Beach Post: 'Super Committee' Should Not Punish Florida Elderly
In the past two years alone, I have witnessed significant Medicare and Medicaid cuts that have left our facility reeling in terms of being able to hire, train and retain staff -- among other factors. In addition to several major cuts to Medicare's skilled nursing facility benefit -- SNF is the technical term for nursing homes -- our state legislators recently cut Medicaid funding to nursing homes by 4.5 percent. ... Now, Washington wants to cut even more -- and that's wrong (Sally Gates, 10/2).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP Candidates Can't Avoid Ryan's Medicare Plan
Paul Ryan said no to running for Senate or President next year, but he has left his stamp on both races by fanning the debate over entitlement spending and forcing candidates to take sides on a very loaded and volatile issue. That's especially true inside his own party, where the Ryan budget and its huge changes to Medicare benefits are now embedded in the GOP agenda.  Every Republican hopeful in 2012 will be asked if they endorse the Ryan plan and if not, what they would do differently (Craig Gilbert, 10/2).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: An Oasis Of Care In The Central City
Tito Izard is a self-proclaimed "inner city doctor" whose mission is to provide medical care to the underserved with both compassion and accountability. We need more physicians like Izard, physicians who can care for the mothers in our city who are losing their babies. Too many of those babies are dying (James E. Causey, 10/1).

Arizona Republic: Obamacare Gives Rise To Efforts To Juggle Patients, Spike Revenues
Nursing homes increasingly are finding reasons to send patients with advanced dementia to the emergency rooms of hospitals -; not because they need the care but because transferring such patients and then taking them back juices the nursing home's Medicare income from that patient. That's a finding from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which concluded 19 percent of such late-life transfers of Alzheimer's patients -; nearly 475,000 people in all -; were made for "questionable purposes" (Doug MacEachern, 10/1).

Arizona Republic: Bioscience Can Bolster State
Arizona has a bright light in a gloomy job market: bioscience. It's a broad field that includes health care, research, medical education and a wide range of devices and medications. Bioscience is meeting two of the state's longstanding goals: diversify our economy and create higher-wage jobs. Here's one way Arizona can compete and flourish in the fluid and developing 21st-century employment landscape. The potential was highlighted in Mayo Clinic's announcement this week that it will create an Arizona branch of its Rochester, Minn., medical school (10/1).

Denver Post: Editorial: It's Foolish to Stall Federal Aid
Republican lawmakers who are stalling an application for federal aid to set up Colorado's health insurance exchange need to stop politicking and get out of the way so this important virtual marketplace can be created. While they are entitled to their objections to the Affordable Care Act, they also need to accept the reality that it's the law of the land (10/3).

Modern Healthcare: Painful Reminders
As if we need any reminders, it's painfully clear that the U.S. health care system continues to grapple with some serious health issues. Yet another batch of recent reports reaffirms the fact that Americans are paying far too much for their care and health coverage and getting too little quality in return -; trends that have been at work for decades (David May, 10/3).

The Boston Globe: Editorial: Health Care Cost Reductions Show Much-Needed Ingenuity
For all the anxiety about ever-increasing health care spending, there's new evidence that, when they set their minds to it, the major players in health care in Massachusetts can put the brakes on costs. Consider just three pieces of good news: The state's Group Insurance Commission for public employees recently nudged some 10,000 people toward less-costly health plans. Steward Health Care System and Tufts Health Plan are teaming up to offer full coverage for as much as 30 percent below current rates for comparable plans. And two new studies say that Blue Cross Blue Shield's global payments model is pushing doctors toward more cost-conscious care (10/1).

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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