Viewpoints: Politics of the Medicare debate; Measuring the impact of Catholic bishops' legal challenge

Politico: Seniors Could Be Obama's Achilles' Heel
So don't expect the Obama administration to agree to any cuts in Medicare between now and Election Day. And don't expect them to show any support for Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare. Holding strong on Medicare is the silver bullet for Obama. It may offset some of seniors' concerns about low interest rates on their savings (Martin Frost, 5/23).

Los Angeles Times: Put A Lid On Debt Ceiling Debate
(House Speaker John) Boehner wants to make the debt ceiling debate a substitute for debating Medicare, Medicaid or taxes by tying future increases in the limit to spending cuts, knowing Democrats will hold out instead for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. The impasse that would ensue would only remind financial markets of the last year's brinkmanship and dysfunction, when Congress' inability to reach a meaningful compromise persuaded one rating agency to downgrade Treasury securities for the first time in history. If it wants to engage in political theater, the House GOP would do better to pass bills rewriting the entitlement programs that are behind Washington's long-term fiscal problems than to threaten not to raise the debt limit (5/23). 

The Washington Post: The Battle Among Catholic Bishops
The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by 43 Catholic organizations, including 13 dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the Obama administration that require insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health-care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: The vast majority of the nation's 195 dioceses did not go to court (E.J. Dionne, 5/23).

The Washington Post: Protecting Our Catholic Conscience In The Public Square
From an early age, Catholics are taught to see God in their neighbor. The Catholic faith finds its fullest expression in a loving act of sacrifice by one stranger for another. Imagine the church's surprise, then, to be told by the federal government that when a Catholic organization serves its neighbors, it isn't really practicing its religion. That is the unacceptable principle at the heart of a mandate, issued in February by the Department of Health and Human Services, that requires religious organizations to provide health-care coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, even if their faith teaches that those drugs and procedures are wrong (Cardinal Donald Wuerl, 5/23). 

CNN: How Damaging Is The Catholic Church's Obamacare Lawsuit For The President?
The Obama Administration tried to smooth things over with the church when the issue first bubbled over. As a compromise, they said insurance companies would have to provide contraception for employees who wanted it - so Catholic employers could avoid directly providing birth control. But that wasn't good enough for the church. ... Experts are split over whether these lawsuits will succeed, but either way it can't be helpful for the president in an election year. For those keeping track, President Obama has managed to anger both the black churches - over his support of gay marriage - and the Catholic Church over birth control (Jack Cafferty, 5/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Opinion: Fannie Med (Video)
Editorial board member Joe Rago on the Health and Human Services Department foray into venture capitalism (5/23). 

USA Today: Gregory House M.D.: RIP
Dr. Gregory House hung up his stethoscope and cane for the last time Monday night and shuffled off into eternal life in the Land of Reruns. House -; the brilliant, misanthropic, drug-addicted, my-way-or-the-highway physician -; has been an entertaining presence on Fox television since 2004. ... But as entertaining as he was, House was a throwback to an era in which the antisocial tendencies of some physicians were seen as irrelevant to their doctoring. As medical leaders strive to redefine "the great doctor" of today, House's departure is both timely and welcome (Robert Wachter, 5/22). 

Archives of Surgery: Are We Human Or Are We Surgeon?
In the past, faculty-;especially surgeons-;were placed or placed themselves on a pedestal. This has become less common today, but this study shows that we still have a ways to go. If we are indeed human and not just surgeons, is there a better way to let residents understand this so that they do not in turn become haughty and aloof? (Dr. Nicholas P. W. Coe, 5/23).

The Atlantic: Medicare and Medicaid: When Two Is Not Better Than One 
[U]nder the current system, the most expensive subset of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are lost in a complicated web of multiple payers and programs that lack both the incentive and the ability to curb rising costs. ... For needy Americans who are likely to require aid from a variety of assistance programs, Congress should consider a holistic approach that would let states assign full responsibility for these people to a single program (Caroline Brown and Anna D. Kraus, 5/22).

New England Journal of Medicine: Primary Care Update -; Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
[P]ublic policy can take delivery reform only so far. Unless we also address the income gap between specialists and primary care physicians, build high-performing teams that include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and allied professionals, and reduce the rate of cost increases, the reform initiative will fall well short of expectations (John K. Iglehart, 5/23).

New England Journal of Medicine: Sharing The Care To Improve Access To Primary Care 
Creating [empowered health care] teams to share the care is not an end in itself. The purpose of this practice change is to address the national demand–capacity imbalance while enhancing quality and reducing clinician stress and burnout (Amireh Ghorob and Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer, 5/24).

California Healthline: Does Health Care's Profit Motive Hurt More Than It Helps?
The profit motive in health care can be a very bad thing. The incentive to maximize financial gain -- and not always at the benefit of patients -- can bring us too many surgeries and not enough primary care providers. At its worst, it can lead to massive fraud and abuse. But it can also spark positive changes -- or so the architects of the federal health reform law hoped (Dan Diamond, 5/23).

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.Net.
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