Viewpoints: Key issues for Romney, Obama to address in the debate; Peter G. Peterson's mission to cut entitlements

Los Angeles Times: 8 Direct Debate Questions For Obama And Romney
With the U.S. population aging, Social Security and Medicare are projected to account for a growing share of the federal budget and the economy. To accommodate that change, should federal spending (and revenue) amount to a larger share of the economy than it has historically? If not, how does Washington make ends meet? … In its ruling upholding most of the 2010 health care law, the Supreme Court said Washington could not compel states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more of the impoverished and working poor. What, if anything, should Washington do to help this group obtain affordable health care? (Jon Healey, 10/2). 

The Washington Post: A Prime-Time Chance For Candidates To Discuss The Future
The president-elect will inherit a sputtering economy, with unacceptably high rates of unemployment and imperceptible growth. He will face, in less than two months, a barrage of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts that, if unaltered, would knock the country back into recession and endanger national security. He also will confront, again if policies are unaltered, the longer-term specter of national bankruptcy, as health costs rise, the baby-boom generation retires and tax revenue is swallowed by interest on the swelling debt (10/2).

Los Angeles Times: Unmasking The Most Influential Billionaire In U.S. Politics
Who's the most influential billionaire business figure in national politics? If you answered one of the Koch brothers (Charles or David) or George Soros, you're wearing your partisan blinders. The former are known for their devotion to conservative causes, the latter to liberal. In either case, you're wrong. The most influential billionaire in America is Peter G. Peterson. ... He isn't content merely to express concern about the federal deficit. His particular targets are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which he calls "entitlement" programs and which he wants to cut back in a manner that would strike deeply at the middle class (Michael Hiltzik, 10/2). 

The New York Times' Economic Scene: Health Care As Income For The Poor
As a nation, we devote almost one-sixth of our spending to health care, twice the share of 30 years ago. Medical bills for the elderly are climbing, threatening to blow up the budget in a few decades. Politicians from both parties are consumed by how to pay for it all. Yet we cannot quite agree on how valuable government health care benefits are to Americans (Eduardo Porter, 10/2).

Bloomberg: Life-Span Gap Skews Entitlements Toward The Well-Off
Since better-educated, higher-income Americans are living longer than everyone else and therefore collecting benefits longer, Medicare and Social Security are becoming less progressive on a lifetime basis. Fortunately, there are ways to offset this gap. … If Medicare were shifted to a premium-support program -- a change that would create other problems, as I have explained -- the widening divide in life expectancy would justify a much larger annual subsidy for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top. Given how the program is structured now, however, policy makers should look for still more ways to link copayments to income, as is already done for Medicare Part B and Part D premiums (Peter Orszag, 10/2).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Challenges At The Intersection Of Team-Based And Patient-Centered Health Care
Implementing patient-centered, team-based care requires overcoming several challenges, but health care that meets the promise of "nothing about me without me" is worth pursuing. Bringing patients into the orchestra of team-based care requires not only new skills and tools but wholly reframing how clinicians and patients view roles (including leadership) and accountability -- even the language describing the care patients "receive" and other team members "provide" (Dr. Matthew K. Wynia, Dr. Isabelle Von Kohorn and Pamela H. Mitchell, 10/3). 

Journal of the American Medical Association: A New Model For Medical Education: Celebrating Restraint
Policy makers recognize that physicians play a central role (in controlling health costs), with some estimates suggesting that physicians control 80% of health expenditures. ... we suggest complementing health care cost control initiatives by transforming the current approach used in medical education that primarily rewards meticulousness of clinical investigation to one that also celebrates appropriate restraint (Dr. Allan S. Detsky and Dr. Amol A. Verma, 10/3). 

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.

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