Viewpoints: GOP faces pressure from spending cuts effects on daily life; President needs to lead on Medicare cuts

The New York Times: The States Get The Bad News
Cuts this draconian have no place in a tottering economy. But, realistically, the only way to break this standoff is for the cuts to exact their toll on daily life, causing Republicans to face pressure from the public to negotiate an alternative plan with higher revenues in March as part of talks to finance the government for the final six months of the fiscal year. The details the White House released over the weekend are eye-opening. In Ohio, Mr. Boehner' home state, the cuts could cost 30,000 jobs. An 8 percent cut in federal research grants "would probably bring us to our knees," said Dr. Thomas Boat, dean of the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer (2/25).

The Washington Post: Sequester Offers President Obama A Time To Lead
Much of what President Obama hopes to accomplish in his second term would tap into what's known as the "discretionary budget" -; money not already claimed by entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. But the discretionary budget itself is about tapped out, squeezed by the growth of entitlement spending. That's what makes the minimal presidential leadership on entitlement reform so baffling (2/25).

Reuters: The Route To A Real Budget Deal
The deal we need is about far more than addressing the sequester. Our elected officials must agree to a fiscal Grand Bargain in 2013 ‑ or they will have once again punted on the tough decisions that define leadership. We know the issues that could eventually sink our ship of state: demographics that are predicted to overwhelm our social insurance programs, rising healthcare costs and an outdated, unfair and inadequate tax system (David M. Walker, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Is Obama Overconfident?
The idea that $85 billion in cuts to a $3.6 trillion budget would mean that children would go without vaccines and battered women would have nowhere to turn is preposterous, but it demonstrates the rhetorical lengths to which the president will go to score political points. It also shows that the White House and Democrats are very confident that they will win this latest showdown with Republicans. Where is that confidence coming from? (Jason L. Riley, 2/25).

Des Moines Register: It's Time For Lawmakers To Act On Medicaid
Gov. Terry Branstad has a lot in common with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Both are Republicans. Both have worked in the health field. Both have been staunch opponents of the federal health reform law. Both repeatedly vowed not to implement a provision in the law to expand the eligibility for Medicaid and provide health insurance to more low-income people in their states. The difference between the two governors: Scott found his moral compass; Branstad has not. ... So now it is up to the Iowa Legislature to stand up for the people of Iowa -; and to stand up to Branstad (2/25). 

The Washington Post: PEPFAR's Glowing Report Card, 10 Years Later
Since 2003, Congress has appropriated more than $38 billion for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR -; the largest global health initiative ever undertaken focused on a single disease. Congress reauthorized the program for five years in 2008 and asked for a report card. Now, after four years of work, some 400 interviews and visits to 13 nations, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has provided a 678-page examination of this incredibly ambitious program. The verdict: PEPFAR has been "globally transformative," a "lifeline" and credited around the world for "restoring hope" in the long, difficult struggle against HIV/AIDS (2/25).

The Seattle Times: Address Gaps In Mental Health Tracking For Gun Buyers
The fierce politics of universal gun-buyer background checks has stirred up such a cloud of dust in Olympia this session that a simple fact has been obscured: Washington doesn't have a foolproof way to tell who has been civilly committed for mental illness. That's a big hole. Federal law bans firearms for people who have been involuntarily committed by a court; in Washington, that means a 14-day involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital (2/25).

Boston Globe: The Guilt Of Caring For Elderly Parents
Four years ago, at 8 p.m. on Valentine's Day, my mother died. A few hours earlier I had taken a brief break from my vigil in the hospice to wander through an excessively air-conditioned Florida mall. The kiosks were overflowing with heart-shaped Mylar balloons, stuffed bears, and chocolate roses. As I surveyed the depressingly cheerful Valentine's paraphernalia, I thought: I really should bring her something. It was a ridiculous thought, since my mother was in a coma and had no use for balloons or bears. Why did I feel obligated to do something more for Mom just then -; as if the years my brothers and I had spent flying back and forth to be with her, the thousands of phone calls, the long hours spent at countless hospital bedsides had not adequately expressed our loyalty and affection (Dr. Suzanne Koven, 2/25)?

WBUR: Cognoscenti: Beyond Awareness: The Fight Against Rare Diseases
Did you know that February 28 is Rare Disease Day? Probably not, despite the fact that more than 700,000 classified rare disorders affect nearly 30 million Americans. Whether it's finding specialists who can diagnose us, advocating for our needs, or getting effective medications when blockbuster drugs get much of the funding, rare disease patients live beyond the fray in many senses (Laurie Edwards, 2/26). 

The Medicare NewsGroup: Why Consumers Aren't Ready For Medicare Self-Directed Decision-Making
In recent years, one of the prevailing schools of thought in health-care reform has been to put consumers more in charge of their health care. ... It may very well be that the consumer-driven model will be inadequate when it comes to informing future beneficiaries of every aspect of treatment. It's too much to ask of average health care consumers to understand scientific method, the limits of medical science and the tremendous economic pressures behind certain drugs and treatments (John Wasik, 2/25).

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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