Viewpoints: Minn. Missteps With Medicaid Are Object Lesson; 'Defensive' Medicine: Red Herring Or Key To Health Costs?

Minneapolis Star Tribune: State Hit Hard Over Medicaid Missteps
It was painful to watch Minnesota's stellar health care reputation and its Human Services commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, get pummeled on Wednesday at a congressional hearing on Medicaid oversight. The sharp, high-profile criticism of Minnesota's medical program for the poor sent a strong message to officials in all states: They are financial stewards of federal tax dollars, not just state funds. That responsibility is too often overlooked in a flawed Medicaid system that doesn't reward states for spending wisely on this critical safety-net program but instead gives them incentives to try to milk as many federal dollars as possible (4/26).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 'Defensive Medicine' Can Come With Price
As a former professor of emergency medicine, I can tell you that medical schools teach defensive medicine so physicians can protect themselves against patients who might sue for a missed diagnosis…. Ordering a battery of exams is often just a way to alleviate a physician's fears about potential litigation from frivolous lawsuits. The trade-off in society is that all of us have to endure more testing and medical procedures until we have fixed our broken medical tort system (Dr. Sam Kini, 4/26).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Alleged Overtesting Just A Red Herring
"Defensive medicine" provides a convenient distraction from the real issues that plague our health care system…. In my experience, the drivers of medical treatment decisions are more complex. Doctors who put patients through uncalled-for tests are not practicing defensive medicine — they are practicing bad medicine. Most often, doctors conduct the tests and procedures they believe necessary based on their judgment and the needs of individual patients — not due to liability concerns (Dr. Kelly B. Thrasher, 4/26). 

MinnPost: Has Your Doctor Disappeared?
I have excellent, relatively inexpensive, employer-sponsored health insurance, for which I am immensely grateful. Even so, I'm having a hard time getting decent primary health care. In fact, it's been nearly two years since I saw a doctor who knows me. And I think I may be seeing a trend (Ann Bauer, 4/27).

Forbes: Customer-Driven Health Care Comes Of Age
U.S. health care reform is on the Supreme Court's operating table. It's going to be a long, painful procedure, multiple amputations are likely, and the patient's survival is uncertain. Whatever the outcome, however, the economic pressure that health care costs put on employers and individuals will continue to mount, and they will seek better value aggressively. This drives us towards an era of "customer-driven" healthcare (Todd Hixon, 4/26).

Baltimore Sun: Obama And Romney Surprisingly Similar On Health Care
When examined closely, both health care visions, past and present, are strikingly similar. Mr. Romney's biggest fundamental differences from President Obama are: 1) the dismantling of state and federal health insurance mandates, and 2) the restructuring of Medicaid and Medicare from open-ended entitlements to predictable contributions from the federal government (Dr. Cedric Dark, 4/26).

Washington Times: Undeniable: Entitlements Are Unsustainable
Medicare is on a steady downward course to financial ruin and everyone should care. Its trustees admit that Medicare's main trust fund could run out of money as early as 2017. Since the U.S. Treasury is under no obligation to make good the shortfalls, the checks to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies will be even less than they are today, covering a fraction of the actual cost of care, potentially shutting off access to health care for millions of seniors (Rep. John Fleming, R-La., 4/26).

Denver Post: The All Payer Claims Database Will Help Coloradans
In today's wired world, consumers have nearly instantaneous access to detailed information on the cost, quality and performance of nearly any major item they purchase. The glaring exception is health care. ...  The non-profit Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) is launching an All Payer Claims Database (APCD) containing claims information (cost, diagnosis, payer, provider, and location) that will identify variations in cost and quality across Colorado and eventually provide the comparative information Coloradans need to make informed decisions about their health care (Lalit Bajaj and Nathan Wilkes, 4/27).

WBUR Common Health Blog: Mass. Taxpayers Foundation Responds To Critics On Health Reform Spending
A new Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) study finds ... when you look at the first five years of state spending for health reform, the annual increase, year-to-year, averaged about $91 million. In short, health reform hasn't been a "budget-buster" as some critics have claimed. Pretty good news, right? Well, the Pioneer Institute's Josh Archambault and Amy Lischko aren't so sure (Michael Widmer, 4/26). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.