Daily Health Policy Report

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last updated: Wed, Aug 21

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform

Coverage & Access

Quality

State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

UPS Won't Insure Spouses Of Some Employees

Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "Partly blaming the health law, United Parcel Service is set to remove thousands of spouses from its medical plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere. Many analysts downplay the Affordable Care Act’s effect on companies such as UPS, noting that the move is part of a long-term trend of shrinking corporate medical benefits. But the shipping giant repeatedly cites the act to explain the decision, adding fuel to the debate over whether the law erodes traditional employer coverage" (Hancock, 8/21). Read the story.

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Health Law Adds New Expense For Farmers: Insurance For Field Workers

Kaiser Health News staff writer Sarah Varney, working in collaboration with The New York Times, reports: "Farm labor contractors across California -- the nation's biggest agricultural engine -- are anxiously studying a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which will require hundreds of thousands of field workers to be covered by health insurance. And while the requirement to cover workers was recently delayed until 2015, the contractors, who provide farmers with armies of field workers, say they are already preparing for the potential cost, inconvenience, and liability the new law will bring to their business, which typically operates on a slender profit margin" (Varney, 8/21). Read the story.

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An Alaska-Sized Price Difference: A Circumcision In Anchorage Hospitals Can Cost $2,110 or $235

Alaska Public Radio Network's Annie Feidt, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "It’s not just patients who are stunned to see what a hospital charges for services. Two groups of pediatricians in Anchorage are taking a stand after learning that one of the city’s hospitals, Alaska Regional Hospital, is charging $2,110 for a circumcision, almost 10 times more than the $235 that Providence Hospital, the city’s other major health facility, charges. Those prices are on top of the doctor’s bill" (Feidt, 8/20). Read the story.

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Family Insurance Premiums Rise 4 Percent For 2nd Year In Row, Survey Finds

Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "For the second year in a row, health insurance premiums for job-based family coverage rose a relatively modest 4 percent, reflecting slowed health spending. Nonetheless, workers are likely to feel an increased pinch from health care costs: More than a third have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 this year before their insurance kicks in, while wages continue to grow far more slowly than health insurance costs" (Appleby, 8/20). Read the story.

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Capsules: With A Nod To Billy Joel, N.Y. Brands Obamacare Marketplace; GOP Gov Extols Exchange 'Run By Idahoans For Idahoans'

Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Phil Galewitz reports on how New York state is branding its health exchange: "New York is the latest state attempting to brand the new marketplaces. The marketplaces, one of the key ways the health care law extends coverage to the uninsured, open for enrollment Oct. 1, selling policies that will take effect Jan. 1. New York exchange officials announced last month that average premiums sold on the exchange would be about half the price they are today for individuals who buy their own insurance" (Galewitz, 8/20).

Also on Capsules, Galewitz reports on the latest regarding Idaho’s health insurance marketplace: "Idaho is the only state under complete Republican control that is running its own marketplace, also called an exchange. ‘I wanted the state to do this so we could fashion it to what we needed in Idaho, rather than deal with a multi-state federal system,’ Otter said at a press conference in the capitol in Boise" (Galewitz, 8/20). Check out what else is on the blog.

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Political Cartoon: 'History Of The World, Part 44?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "History Of The World, Part 44?" by Gary Varvel.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

START SPREADING THE NEWS

In New York City
Should health insurance come with
A bagel, (lite) shmear?
-Anonymous

And, since it's August, here's a bonus:

 

THE HEALTH LAW -- STILL A TOWN HALL TOPIC

Hotbed for hecklers...
Last time it was death panels.
Now it's defunding.
-Anonymous

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

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Health Reform

Heritage Action Kicks Off Its 'Defunding' Tour

 Heritage Action's push, which is being called the "last, best chance"  to block the health law, features a bleak assessment of Republican Party's willingness to fight the measure. Meanwhile, at this summer's town hall meetings, it appears that neither the law's advocates nor opponents are safe. Also in the headlines, a new ad is released by Crossroads GPS targeting the employer mandate.

Politico: Heritage Action Kicks Off Obamacare Defunding Tour By Taking Aim At GOP
A last-ditch effort to derail Obamacare started in a barn [in Arkansas] Monday night — because it's not going to start in Washington, advocates told a packed crowd at the opening night of Heritage Action's August defunding tour. Heritage Action, trying to fuel an effort to defund the president's health care law on the cusp of its launch, offered a bleak assessment of a Republican Party that's held 40 anti-Obamacare votes: They don't have the guts to do everything necessary to stop the law, and that's where the Heritage faithful step in (Millman, 8/20).

The Associated Press: Group Kicks Off Nat’l Tour On Health Law Defunding
One of the chief backers of a plan to defund the federal health care law by tying it to budget negotiations said Monday that he didn't believe Republicans would be blamed for a government shutdown as supporters of the approach launched a national tour to spur support for the idea. Dismissing concerns from some Republicans, former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina called the defunding idea the "last, best chance" to stop the federal health care overhaul before key parts of the law take effect later this year (DeMillo, 8/20).

Roll Call: 'Defund Obamacare' Letter To Be Unveiled After Heritage Push
Heritage Action for America has a message for 100 House Republicans: You want to sign freshman Rep. Mark Meadows' letter. The advocacy group launched a $550,000 online ad campaign Monday that targets GOP lawmakers who haven't yet signed on to the petition being circulated by the North Carolina Republican (Dumain, 8/20).

Bloomberg: Tea Party Finds It Harder To Get Attention On Health Law
During Congress's August break in 2009, the Tea Party movement helped Republicans demonstrate public anger about President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation by showing up at rowdy town-hall meetings. This year, many of those same groups that now seek to deny funding for the health-care law's implementation are having to work harder to get Republican lawmakers' attention during their August break (Rowley, 8/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Town-Hall Dramas Use Activists' Scripts
Immigration advocates, tea-party organizers, privacy-rights activists and others are using community meetings during this month's congressional recess to pressure politicians, drive news coverage or produce a bit of video that might gain attention to their cause. Tea-party activists confronted a North Carolina Republican about ending President Barack Obama's signature health-care law and posted on a website a video of his response, which they found unsatisfactory (Hook, 8/20).

The New York Times: Amid Talk of White House Run, Texas Senator Targets Obama's Health Plan
Senator Ted Cruz, after two days of bedevilment over his birthplace and eligibility for the presidency, returned to form on Tuesday night with a rally [in Dallas] before the conservative faithful aimed at ginning up support to defund President Obama’s health care overhaul. ... The event was part of Heritage Action for America's "Defund Obamacare" tour, which began Monday in Fayetteville, Ark., and will make stops in nine cities. But Mr. Cruz is only appearing at the Dallas rally, and he drew a standing ovation from a crowd of roughly a thousand people (Parker and Martin, 8/20).

The Washington Post: Hecklers Confront Ted Cruz At Town Hall Meeting
A Dallas town hall meeting designed to rally support for defunding President Obama’s health-care law grew testy Tuesday night when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was interrupted three separate times by hecklers. The conservative senator handled each interruption calmly, asking that he be allowed to finish his remarks. "You have health care, we should too!" chanted a pair of protesters near the end of Cruz's remarks (Sullivan, 8/20).

The Associated Press: Sen. Marco Rubio Talking Less About Immigration, More About Health Care
On a recent swing through the most conservative parts of his state, Sen. Marco Rubio told a packed banquet hall at the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club that major policy issues were threatening the American dream: onerous taxes, burdensome regulations — and, above all, President Barack Obama's health care law (8/20).

The Hill: Crossroads Ad Hits ObamaCare Employer Mandate
A new ad from Crossroads GPS, the super-PAC tied to Republican strategist Karl Rove, attacks ObamaCare's employer mandate. The ad criticizes the healthcare law for requiring employers to provide healthcare coverage to employees who work more than 30 hours per week (Baker, 8/20).

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State Insurance Exchanges Go For Flashy (Or Not) Branding

New York named its health exchange, complete with new logo and ad. In Idaho, the GOP governor, a vocal opponent of the health law, lauds his state's insurance marketplace. Meanwhile, Florida officials express concerns about the federal exchange's "navigator" concept. 

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: New Ad Encourages NYers To Enroll In Insurance
New York's health benefit exchange has a new name, logo and look. Officials said Tuesday the federal overhaul expected to bring coverage to more than a million people statewide is now dubbed "NY State of Health" (8/20).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: With A Nod To Billy Joel, N.Y. Brands Obamacare Marketplace
The marketplaces, one of the key ways the health care law extends coverage to the uninsured, open for enrollment Oct. 1, selling policies that will take effect Jan. 1. New York exchange officials announced last month that average premiums sold on the exchange would be about half the price they are today for individuals who buy their own insurance (Galewitz, 8/20).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: GOP Gov Extols Exchange 'Run By Idahoans For Idahoans'
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, said he still hopes the federal health law gets repealed. But with some of the law’s biggest changes taking effect in less than six weeks, he sounded like a proud papa Tuesday in announcing the name of his state’s new online health insurance marketplace: Your Health Idaho. Idaho is the only state under complete Republican control that is running its own marketplace (Galewitz, 8/20).

NPR: Fla. Balks At Insurance Navigators As Obamacare Deadline Nears
As a group, navigators will play a key role in helping carry out one of the Affordable Care Act's missions — to bring coverage to millions of people who currently have no health insurance. ... As part of the enrollment process, navigators will look at tax records, take Social Security numbers and have access to sensitive health information. Sebelius says her agency has done similar work for many years with Medicare and Medicaid recipients and that the rules in place safeguard privacy (Allen, 8/20).

Health News Florida: 'Navigators' Too Risky: Cabinet
State Cabinet officials expressed concern Tuesday that the federal government's "navigator" plan would place Floridians' personal information in danger. They urged citizens to use state-licensed insurance agents to get help deciding which is the best insurance plan when the federal online Marketplace opens Oct. 1 (Gentry, 8/20).

 

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Are They Talking? Mixed Messages On Whether Texas Is Seeking Health Law Funds

News outlets try to pin down whether Texas officials are in discussions with the Obama administration to gain access to an estimated $100 million in health law funds. Meanwhile, a South Dakota panel lays out the pros and cons of expanding Medicaid in that state.

Politico: Obamacare Critic Rick Perry Seeks Cash From Law
Gov. Rick Perry wants to kill Obamacare dead, but Texas health officials are in talks with the Obama administration about accepting an estimated $100 million available through the health law to care for the elderly and disabled, POLITICO has learned. Perry health aides are negotiating with the Obama administration on the terms of an optional Obamacare program that would allow Texas to claim stepped-up Medicaid funding for the care of people with disabilities (Cheney and Haberman, 8/20).

Texas Tribune: Governor’s Office: We’re Not Negotiating On Obamacare
Gov. Rick Perry’s office is disputing reports that the state is negotiating with the federal government to draw down $100 million in additional financing under a rule created by the Affordable Care Act. Politico reported on Tuesday that Texas is taking advantage of the Community First Choice program, which was set up under "Obamacare" to increase federal Medicaid matching funds for home attendant services, so that more people with disabilities could receive community-based services (Aaronson, 8/20).

And in South Dakota, a panel turns in its final report on Medicaid expansion -

The Associated Press: SD Task Force Finishes Medicaid Expansion Study
An expansion of South Dakota's Medicaid program would improve health care for thousands of low-income people and could boost the state economy, but it also could put a strain on medical providers and increase state spending, a task force decided Tuesday. The task force, appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to study the issue, was set up to identify the advantages and disadvantages of expanding Medicaid (Brokaw, 8/20).

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Analyzing Businesses' Benefit Decisions -- Is Obamacare Really To Blame?

News outlets explore whether employer decisions are the result of the health law or part of long-term trends, as well as how agricultural businesses are preparing for the employer mandate, now delayed until 2015.

Kaiser Health News: UPS Won't Insure Spouses Of Some Employees
Partly blaming the health law, United Parcel Service is set to remove thousands of spouses from its medical plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere. Many analysts downplay the Affordable Care Act’s effect on companies such as UPS, noting that the move is part of a long-term trend of shrinking corporate medical benefits. But the shipping giant repeatedly cites the act to explain the decision, adding fuel to the debate over whether the law erodes traditional employer coverage (Hancock, 8/21).

Kaiser Health News: Health Law Adds New Expense For Farmers: Insurance For Field Workers
Farm labor contractors across California -- the nation's biggest agricultural engine -- are anxiously studying a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which will require hundreds of thousands of field workers to be covered by health insurance. And while the requirement to cover workers was recently delayed until 2015, the contractors, who provide farmers with armies of field workers, say they are already preparing for the potential cost, inconvenience, and liability the new law will bring to their business, which typically operates on a slender profit margin (Varney, 8/21).

Also in the news, Hispanics are a key coverage target for the Obama administration and insurers -

The Wall Street Journal: Health Overhaul Targets Hispanics
Insurers and the Obama administration are racing to sign Hispanics up for coverage under the federal health overhaul, eager to reach a segment of the U.S. population that offers huge opportunity but also presents many challenges. When WellPoint Inc. asked a group of 20 uninsured Hispanics to review educational materials on the new law earlier this year, many had simple questions: What is health insurance? And how does it work? (Martin, Campo-Flores and Rutland, 8/20).

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Coverage & Access

Survey: Premium Costs Increase Slightly But Wages Don't Keep Pace

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey concluded that, for the second year in a row, employer-provided insurance costs went up only moderately in 2012. But employee wages still didn't keep pace.

The New York Times: Health Care Costs Climb Moderately, Survey Says
Premiums for employer-provided health insurance have increased by relatively modest amounts this year, according to a new survey, a further sign that once-torrid health care inflation has abated for now (Pollack, 8/20).

Los Angeles Times: Costs Rise For Employer-Provided Health Benefits, Survey Finds
American workers and their employers saw another rise in health insurance premiums this year, as the total cost of employer-provided health benefits ticked up 4% for family plans and 5% for individual plans, according to a closely watched national survey (Levey and Villeneuve, 8/20).

Kaiser Health News: Family Insurance Premiums Rise 4 Percent For 2nd Year In Row, Survey Finds
For the second year in a row, health insurance premiums for job-based family coverage rose a relatively modest 4 percent, reflecting slowed health spending. Nonetheless, workers are likely to feel an increased pinch from health care costs: More than a third have annual deductibles of at least $1,000 this year before their insurance kicks in, while wages continue to grow far more slowly than health insurance costs (Appleby, 8/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Employer Health Coverage Premiums Rise Slowly Again This Year
The increase, to an annual total of $16,351 from $15,745 in 2012, represented the same rate of growth as last year, which likely reflects employees' continued tendency to limit their use of medical care, said Gary Claxton, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. The nonprofit performed the annual poll of employers along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association (Mathews, 8/20).

The Associated Press: Survey: Health Insurance Costs Rise Modestly But Outpace Wage Gains
Coverage costs still are climbing faster than wages. That means, in many cases, a bigger portion of the average paycheck is sliced off for insurance instead of being deposited into employee bank accounts (Murphy, 8/20).

Pioneer Press: Health Insurance Costs Outpace Wage Gains, Survey Finds
Health insurance premiums continue to grow at a moderate pace, but to most people, it doesn't feel that way. The continued tension between wage growth and health care costs was highlighted in an annual survey (Snowbeck, 8/20).

The Hill: Survey: Coverage, Premiums Holding Steady For Employer Health Plans
The survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation pours cold water on some criticisms of ObamaCare, namely that it is already causing costs to skyrocket and employers to stop offering healthcare coverage (Baker, 8/20).

Georgia Health News: Premiums For Employers Plans Show Modest Increase
But employees may not be feeling that moderation. That’s because their part of the premium has been rising faster than their wages and the general inflation rate over the past decade. Out-of-pocket costs have increased significantly as well. “The pain factor for health insurance cost has not disappeared,” said Altman. “Over time, what people pay for health care has dramatically eclipsed both their wages and inflation" (Miller, 8/20).

CT Mirror: Stable Year For Employer Health Benefit Costs, But Dramatic Changes Could Be Coming
Some experts expect smaller employers to consider dropping coverage and letting their workers buy insurance in the new marketplaces, while larger employers might consider changing the way they handle benefits to give workers more choices and financial responsibility (Becker, 8/20).

CNN: Health Insurance Premiums Rise Faster Than Wages
Still, workers pay only a fraction of the overall cost. They shell out only 28% of the total price for family insurance, while their employer foots the rest of the bill. Individuals pay an even smaller share -- 17% for single coverage (Luhby, 8/20).

Dallas Morning News: Health Insurance Cost Growth Slows, But Many Pay More For Care Than For Food
Health insurance premiums are up at less than the double-digit pace of a decade ago, but that’s not likely to cheer consumers who are devoting more of their income to medical care. Health care analysts at the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust said Tuesday that the average family policy cost $16,351 this year, with workers paying $4,565 of that and employers paying the rest (Landers, 8/20).

Medpage Today: Employers Not Deserting Health Benefit Arena
The percentage of employers offering health insurance to their workers fell only slightly this year compared with last year, according to a large survey released Tuesday. The survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust found that 57 percent of firms offered health benefits in 2013 -- statistically unchanged from 61 percent last year and 60 percent in 2011. The overall drop came mostly from the smallest firms (Pittman, 8/20).

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Quality

USA Today Probe Finds Thousands Of Docs Practicing Despite Misconduct

Also, a study finds that Medicare patients leaving the hospital can't always remember what was wrong with them and how to follow up.

USA Today: Thousands Of Doctors Practicing Despite Errors, Misconduct
Despite years of criticism, the nation's state medical boards continue to allow thousands of physicians to keep practicing medicine after findings of serious misconduct that put patients at risk, a USA TODAY investigation shows. Many of the doctors have been barred by hospitals or other medical facilities; hundreds have paid millions of dollars to resolve malpractice claims. Yet their medical licenses — and their ability to inflict harm — remain intact (Eisler and Hansen, 8/20).

Reuters: Patients May Need Better Info When Leaving Hospitals
Older patients may think they understand everything doctors tell them when they are released from the hospital, but a new U.S. study found several gaps in what they remember and areas where instructions could be clearer. Out of nearly 400 patients discharged from a large academic medical center, 96 percent reported knowing why they had been hospitalized, but only about 60 percent could accurately describe their diagnoses. ... Hospitals are currently looking at ways to reduce the number of people who have to come back for additional care (Seaman, 8/20).

Recent, related KHN story: Armed With Bigger Fines, Medicare To Punish 2,225 Hospitals For Excess Readmissions (Rau, 8/2).

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State Watch

State Highlights: Judge Nullifies 2011 Brooklyn Hospital Deal

A selection of health policy stories from New York, California, Alaska, Georgia and Texas.

The New York Times: Judge Rejects Long Island College Hospital's Ownership Deal
In a surprise ruling cheered by nurses, doctors and others who have fought to keep a Brooklyn hospital open, but which may have muddled its fate even further, a judge on Tuesday ordered the hospital to be returned to its previous owners, nullifying a 2011 transfer to the State University of New York (Hartocollis, 8/20).

The Sacramento Bee: S.F. Threatens To Sue Nevada Over Alleged 'Patient-Dumping'
The San Francisco city attorney on Tuesday accused Nevada health officials of improperly busing two dozen mental patients from Las Vegas to San Francisco in recent years, and threatened to file a class-action lawsuit if Nevada doesn't repay the cost of caring for them and hundreds of other patients shipped via Greyhound to California during that time (Reese, 8/21).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Court Extends Hold On NYC Health Insurance Plan
New York City's plan to solicit bids for health insurance for hundreds of thousands of workers is now on hold until at least mid-September. A Manhattan judge halted the initiative earlier this month. He said Tuesday the city can't go forward before he hears more arguments Sept. 16 (8/20).

Kaiser Health News: An Alaska-Sized Price Difference: A Circumcision In Anchorage Hospitals Can Cost $2,110 or $235
It’s not just patients who are stunned to see what a hospital charges for services. Two groups of pediatricians in Anchorage are taking a stand after learning that one of the city’s hospitals, Alaska Regional Hospital, is charging $2,110 for a circumcision, almost 10 times more than the $235 that Providence Hospital, the city's other major health facility, charges. Those prices are on top of the doctor's bill (Feidt, 8/20).

Georgia Health News: Behavioral Health Program Taking On A New Look
The state is continuing its transformation in behavioral health services by creating "crisis centers" in Albany, Thomasville and Valdosta. Georgia officials are also seeking to lease empty buildings on the historic Milledgeville hospital campus, which has been downsized as the state moves away from a hospital-based system of care for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities (Miller, 8/20).

Texas Tribune: Reuse Effort Targets Items Bought With Medicaid Money
By calling for a program that encourages the reuse of equipment like wheelchairs and hospital beds that were bought with Medicaid dollars, legislators hope that they are creating a new way for the state to save money. Senate Bill 1175, which passed through the 83rd Legislature, authorizes the Health and Human Services Commission to implement a program that would promote the resale of "durable medical equipment" -- which also includes items like insulin pumps and crutches -- when purchased through Medicaid (Luthra, 8/21).

California Healthline: UC-Riverside Medical School Bill Approved
The Assembly yesterday approved a measure to urge UC-Riverside School of Medicine officials to use some portion of its $15 million in recently-appropriated state money to encourage graduates of the state's newest medical school to enter physician-retention programs, which are designed to boost the number of physicians practicing in California's underserved areas. The $15 million to be used by UC-Riverside for the expansion and operations of its medical school was originally included in SB 21 by Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside), but because of a budget deal, that appropriation instead came out of this year's budget bill (Gorn, 8/20).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: Did Sen. Cruz Get Early Benefits From Canadian Health Care?; Medicaid Expansion Won't Work If Doctors Don't Accept Patients

Los Angeles Times: Did Ted Cruz, The Canadian, Get The Kind Of Healthcare He Now Scorns?
Quite without realizing it, apparently, the location of Cruz's birth automatically made him a citizen of our socialist (in healthcare, at least) neighbor to the north. Did his mother receive excellent free medical care under Canada’s single-payer healthcare system when her baby was born in Calgary, Alberta, in 1970? Did little Ted, who moved back to the United States with his Cuban-born father and American-born mother when he was 4, get free vaccinations and pediatric care from his Canadian doctors? We'll probably never know (Robin Abcarian, 8/20).

The New York Times: They Can't Handle The Health Care Truth
At the most fundamental level, you can’t guarantee adequate health care to everyone unless the people who don’t need help right now — the young, healthy, and affluent — are induced, one way or another, to contribute to the care of those who do need help. You can do this purely with taxes, via a single-payer system (and maybe even by having the government act as provider), or you can do it, Swiss or Massachusetts style, via a combination of regulation, taxes, and subsidies. But some way of corralling the lucky healthy into contributing is necessary. For the vast majority of this group, this is still a good deal (Paul Krugman, 8/20). 

The New York Times: Republicans Retreat From A Shutdown
Whether out of pure self-preservation or a sudden attack of common sense, a growing group of Republicans is saying no to the strident extremists who want to shut down the government this fall if health care reform is allowed to proceed. "I think it's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of," Senator Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina, said recently. He and others in his party are pushing back hard against the idea. ... That doesn't mean, however, that Republicans are out of foolish ideas. Virtually every one of the party's elected officials takes it as an article of faith that health care reform must be stopped, and many are still looking for other ways besides a shutdown to make sure the uninsured remain that way (8/20). 

The Washington Post: Wonkbook: Newt Gingrich Explains How The GOP’s Obamacare Tactics Backfired
The opening session of the Republican National Committee’s Boston confab featured ex-speaker Newt Gingrich scolding his fellow Republicans on their failure to come through on the “replace” side of “repeal-and-replace.” ... That’s a task Republicans have clearly failed at. One of the more interesting polling wrinkles of the past few years is that the persistent unpopularity of the Democrats’ signature health-care initiative hasn’t helped the GOP take the lead on the broader issue. A recent poll by the Morning Consult found a 10 percent edge for Democrats on health care. Even the conservative polling group Rasmussen continues to find a Democratic edge. The public doesn’t like what the Democrats did. But they really don’t like what they think the Republicans will do (Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, 8/20).

Forbes: Attention Medicaid Patients: The Doctor Won't Be Seeing You
I leave you with a simple take-home point: health care coverage does not equate with access to healthcare. Physicians have to be willing to see patients. And if Medicaid does not pay well enough to incentivize physicians to see Medicaid patients, or if it is too slow to pay off claims, or if some other barrier stands in the way of helping these patients receive needed medical care—then we need to address those barriers. It is no use to obtain healthcare coverage that doesn’t get you healthcare (Peter Ubel, 8/21). 

The Washington Post: Getting Ready For Obamacare
A marketplace like no other is opening soon. Beginning Oct. 1, people without health insurance will be able to shop for what is promised to be affordable coverage (Michelle Singletary, 8/20). 

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Biggest Health Risk Facing Colorado’s Youth Is How Many Are Uninsured
In fact, according to the Colorado Health Institute, about 44,000 of our 12- to 17-year-olds are uninsured, which places us between 38th and 42nd (depending on the data source) in the country for our rate of uninsured young people. Given the significant availability of health insurance for children under 18, it is unacceptable to be so far behind (Denali Johnson, 8/20).

The New York Times: The AIDS Epidemic Can Be Ended
While the debate about gay rights in the West has shifted to the rights of same sex couples to marry, these recent events bring back to light the cruel reality that in many countries people who are openly homosexual or suspected of being homosexual are still being thrown in jail for years or even facing death sentences. It beggars belief that in sub-Saharan Africa homosexuality remains illegal in 38 countries (Bertrand Audoin, 8/20). 

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EDITOR:
Stephanie Stapleton

ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
Andrew Villegas

WRITERS:
Ankita Rao
Marissa Evans

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2012 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.