Viewpoints: House Republicans help themselves, and the country, with smart, tough questions to Tavenner; Kentucky senators out of step with eager constituents; replace health law with single payer system

Bloomberg: Republicans Get Smart On Obamacare
When House Republicans direct their opposition to Obamacare toward aggressive oversight rather than apocalyptic budget shenanigans, they can do themselves and the country a lot of good. That was obvious when the House Ways and Means Committee posed some smart, tough questions about to Marilyn Tavenner, who, as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is perhaps the person most directly responsible for the fiasco. Yes, there were a few "gotcha" questions meant to showcase individual representatives' hatred of the health-care law. But for the most part, the queries seemed designed to find a path toward more competent management of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Peggy Noonan's Blog: Questions For Secretary Sebelius
Former White House press secretary Dana Perino has good, commonsensical advice for Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who'll be questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on ObamaCare tomorrow. Boiled down: Can the theatrics, know your stuff, we don't need re-enactments of constituent rage, be serious and sober. If members take this advice-;Speaker John Boehner and Chairman Fred Upton should be sending it out-;they'll better their chances of meeting the moment and providing a service to their country. Dana's advice made me think of what I'd add (Peggy Noonan, 10/29).

USA Today: Don't Delay Obamacare Deadline: Our View
The Obama administration's botched roll out of its signature health law is producing new calls for delays -; and not just from Republicans. At least 11 Senate Democrats want to extend the sign-up period on the health exchanges past the March 31 deadline, or postpone for a year the mandate that individuals have health insurance or pay a penalty. ... They're risky ideas that could undermine the new health law or, at the very least, drive up premiums for individual buyers (10/29). 

USA Today: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: Extend Health Care Enrollment
Choosing new health insurance is a big deal, which is why consumers were supposed to have six months to consider their available options, make decisions about what is best for their families and sign up for health care through the new insurance marketplaces. I think Americans in New Hampshire and across the country still deserve six months. That is why I am proposing an extension of the enrollment deadline in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., 10/29).

The New York Times' Taking Note: Kentucky's Senators Versus Kentuckians
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky hates the Affordable Care Act. So does Kentucky's senior senator, Mitch McConnell -; though apparently not quite enough to stave off a primary challenge. The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Mr. McConnell's Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin, who charged in a television spot that "McConnell helped Barack Obama and Harry Reid fund Obamacare." ... And yet, with this bickering in the background, Kentucky has been unusually successful in rolling out its health insurance marketplace. Dylan Scott wrote in Talking Points Memo yesterday that "more than 26,000 people have enrolled in coverage, more than 50,000 have started applications and more than 300,000 unique visitors have checked out what the marketplace has to offer." That's in a state where roughly one in six are uninsured. (Juliet Lapidos, 10/29).

Los Angeles Times: Separating The Day's Myths And Realities On Obamacare
Developments in the rollout of Obamacare are coming with dizzying speed, though not as fast as the pileup of fiction and misunderstanding created by politicians, pundits and the news media. So here's a list of the latest themes you're hearing on America's healthcare reform, and what they mean (Michael Hiltzik, 10/29).

Los Angeles Times: Throw Out Obamacare? Yes, And Give Us A Single-Payer System
As the old saying goes, even a blind pig finds an ear of corn sometimes. And so it is with Republicans and Obamacare: They're right; it's a mess and deserves to be euthanized, perhaps by its own special "death panel." And I have just the thing to replace it with: a single-payer healthcare system (Paul Whitefield, 10/29).

The Washington Post: Coverage Under Health-Care Law May Change – For The Better
President Obama famously claimed that Americans who liked their insurance plans would be able to keep them under health-care reform. Well, that's not completely true, nor is it the only example of the Obama administration failing to prepare the public for the Affordable Care Act's phase-in. And it was one of the only things Republicans at a House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on Tuesday wanted to talk about. ... But, despite what the president may have said, this news should not have come as a shock, and it is not evidence that the law is a failure (10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: The Obamacare Awakening
For all of the Affordable Care Act's technical problems, at least one part is working on schedule. The law is systematically dismantling the individual insurance market, as its architects intended from the start (10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: The Outrage Arrives
The White House has issued a clarification. When the president said if you like your insurance plan you can keep it, what he meant was you can keep it if he likes it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who are getting policy cancellation notices this month can't be as surprised as they pretend to be. President Obama made it clear at his 2010 health care summit what he thought of their taste in insurance (Holman W. Jenkins Jr., 10/29). 

Politico: Health Care Lessons From Massachusetts
While our political leaders in Washington appear hopelessly divided about the future of health-care reform, the conflict and mistrust that has beset the ACA remains notably absent in Massachusetts. So, it's natural to ask if our experience might offer a ray of hope for the rest of the country. Based on many years of involvement, I believe the answer is yes – if the focus remains on the real lessons of what we have accomplished here and how we did it (Andrew Dreyfus, 10/30).

Reuters: What About Social Security's Rollout?
The tortuous, often controversial implementation of both Medicare and Social Security serves as an early template for the current controversies over the Obamacare rollout. The ultimate success of those social programs ought to calm the overheated atmosphere surrounding the first days of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (Bruce J. Schulman, 10/29). 

Reuters: Opposing Obamacare: GOP's Defining Issue
For Republicans, opposition to Obamacare has become a defining issue, like antiwar sentiment was for Democrats during the war in Iraq. Of course, people were being killed in Iraq. But look at what Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said about Obamacare: "Let's repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens" (Bill Schneider, 10/28).

The Fiscal Times: What Obamacare Ignores: Cutting Health Care Costs
Outside of some pilot programs in Medicare, most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does little to reduce the actual cost of care. Nor does it increase the efficiency of the U.S. health care system, which will still likely maintain its status as providing the most expensive medical care in the world. Will the private sector embrace the kinds of change needed to make the health care system fiscally sustainable? (John F. Wasik, 10/30).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service):  Costs Still Out Of Control Even If Obamacare Succeeds
Obamacare's advocates are self-righteous in pressing for implementation. The loyal opposition conservatives are skirmishing and employing guerrilla tactics. They hope the law will fail of its own accord. The problem with this drama-of-the-gifted is that it obscures health care's central issue and begs several really important questions. By now even the most fervent advocate of Obamacare has to admit that this law will do nothing to bend the cost curve (Francis Miller, 10/29).

And on other health issues -

The New York Times: A Mixed Decision On The Texas Abortion Law
Under a phony guise of protecting the health and safety of women, states with Republican governors and state legislatures have been keeping busy enacting one burdensome scheme after another designed to radically curtail access to safe and legal abortion care. On Monday, a federal judge in Texas rejected one of the most underhanded of these legislative efforts (10/29).

The New York Times: Putting More Controls On Painkillers
The Food and Drug Administration took an important step last week to curb an epidemic of overdose deaths from misuse of prescription painkillers that contain hydrocodone, such as Vicodin, Lortab and their generic equivalents, in combination with another painkilling drug. The only regret is that it took so long for the agency to make up its mind (10/29). 

The Washington Post: Check Out Medicare Changes During Open Enrollment
With so much fuss and frustration over the open enrollment for the health-care marketplaces, some people might be missing important information about another open-enrollment season. Open enrollment for the exchanges is overlapping and overshadowing the importance of the Medicare open-enrollment period, which started Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. It is during this period that those covered by Medicare can change their health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014 (Michelle Singletary, 10/29).

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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