The New York Times: Obamacare Lives!
Back when rate shock, website problems and lagging enrollment were threatening to unravel the new health care law before it fully took effect, I concluded a column on Obamacare's repeated near-death experiences with the following warning to conservatives: ... What isn't killed outright grows stronger the longer it's embedded in the federal apparatus, gaining constituents and interest-group support just by virtue of its existence even if it doesn't work out the way it was designed. ... the serious right-of-center alternatives to Obamacare have always included policies to expand coverage, and with a coverage expansion accomplished, Republicans may find themselves effectively forced in a more serious direction. ... wherever they go and whatever they do, they will have to deal with the reality that Obamacare, thrice-buried, looks very much alive (Ross Douthat, 3/31).
The New York Times: Obamacare, The Unknown Ideal
It's not my ideal; in a better world I'd call for single-payer, and a significant role for the government in directly providing care. But Ross Douthat, in the course of realistically warning his fellow conservatives that Obamacare doesn't seem to be collapsing, goes on to tell them that they're going to have to come up with a serious alternative. But Obamacare IS the conservative alternative, and not just because it was originally devised at the Heritage Foundation (Paul Krugman, 3/31).
Los Angeles Times: Ted Cruz Asks His Facebook Friends About Obamacare, Gets An Earful
The Olympiad of officials and institutions reaching out to the public via social media and not hearing what they expected has a new champion: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Back on March 24, Cruz posted an informal survey on his verified senatorial Facebook page. It read: "Quick poll: Obamacare was signed into law four years ago yesterday. Are you better off now than you were then? Comment with YES or NO!" It's probably fair to say that he didn't expect the tsunami of "YES" votes that have shown up on the page among the 47,000 that Facebook says have been posted (Michael Hiltzik, 3/31).
Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Numbers Coming In Huge: Here's A Guide To GOP Excuse-Making
Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward -- and maybe beyond -- the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. ... The surge is creating a big problem for the "train wreck" narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare's utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun (Michael Hiltzik, 3/31).
Bloomberg: What Obamacare's Numbers Don't Tell Us
[It] has proved difficult -- to put it mildly -- to expand coverage to poor people in states that reject the law. Some states may well follow New Hampshire's lead, reversing their initial opposition to the expansion of Medicaid. But if the federal government's current strategy of exemptions and semantic dodges proves unequal to the task of gaining Obamacare purchase in states such as Texas or North Carolina, its architects will need to look for an alternative. Spending $1.3 trillion in health-care subsidies for the middle class while leaving many poorer Americans with no options threatens the moral basis for the whole undertaking (4/1).
Bloomberg: Kentucky Loves Its Insurance, Just Not Obamacare
Remember, however, that it isn't just in Kentucky that the words "Obamacare" or even "Affordable Care Act" are invisible to consumers; that's the case nationwide. And that omission doesn't reflect some sort of defensive reaction to bad polling. It's the way the law was designed to work. As a result, we have no idea how many of the almost 7 million who will have signed up through the exchanges will think of themselves as Obamacare consumers; how many of the 4 to 5 million newly eligible Medicaid sign-ups will think they are; or how many of the roughly 3 million 19 to 25 year-olds on their parents’ plans will think so (Jonathan Bernstein, 3/31).
Fox News: ObamaCare And America's Youth -- Why Lessons Of 2014 Will Last A Lifetime
Quite a few Millennials peeled off from the Obama coalition because they stood to the left of the president on the health care bill itself (preferring a single payer system or at least the "public option"), not to mention issues like Afghanistan and the NSA surveillance debate. These young people are not likely to vote Republican unless they are drawn to GOP candidates who stake out strongly civil libertarian positions on issues like surveillance. But their enthusiasm for mainstream Democrats is very much in question. I have never seen persuasive evidence that media outreach and celebrity appeals can change fundamental opinions about policy and politics. Obama’s visit to "Between Two Ferns" will not be the turning point in the administration’s efforts. So what should they do to get young people involved in health reform? (Peter Levine, 3/31).
CNN: 317 Million Reasons To Love Obamacare
More than 6 million Americans signed up for Obamacare before the March 31 deadline to get private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. This is great news for the Obama administration. But there are millions more reasons to celebrate Obamacare. Actually, at the writing of this essay, there are more than 317 million reasons — because that's the population of the United States of America and every single one of us can benefit from health care reform. How? Here's a rundown by the numbers (Sally Kohn, 3/31).
CNN: I Got A Better Deal Through Obamacare
I signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act last week. I did so for one reason and one reason only: it was a good deal for my family. In fact, it was a better deal than we were getting before the ACA (Paul Begala, 3/31).
The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: Watching MNsure From The Inside Out
Having recently retired, I decided I wanted to be a part of the process of enrolling people in MNsure, the Minnesota version of the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance exchanges. … I found two organizations that were looking for volunteers to help with outreach and enrollment. I began phone-banking and helping with open-enrollment events in October, and I did my last shift this past Saturday. Here is some of what I saw from the inside out of the first six months of Obamacare in Minnesota, as I followed the media's reporting of the disastrous rollout of the website access points. I do not dispute any of the coverage, but only want to give a different perspective, perhaps a bit closer to those who hoped to gain a level of health security through this historic legislation (Carol C. White, 3/31).
On other health issues -
The Wall Street Journal: The Definition Of Insanity
Every time a mass shooting happens in the U.S.—Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Aurora—we have the same national discussion: Why can't we identify and treat the dangerously mentally ill before they kill? Here is one infuriating answer. Inside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sits an agency whose assignment since its creation in 1992 has been to reduce the impact of mental illness and target services to the "people most in need." Instead the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, known as Samhsa, uses its $3.6 billion annual budget to undermine treatment for severe mental disorders (3/31).
Bloomberg: The Real Problem With the 'Doc Fix'
As policy-making disgraces go, last week’s House of Representatives vote for a temporary "doc fix" to avoid a cut in Medicare payments to doctors is hard to beat: It's financed in part through accounting gimmicks, and the vote was so rushed that most members of Congress didn’t even realize it had been held. A permanent fix is offered as an alternative, and it would indeed be better, but this option, too, could be much stronger (Peter R. Orszag, 3/31).
Reuters: America Is Not Broke
That's where the Republican budget comes in. For the past few years, House Republicans have passed a budget that radically reduces support for healthcare, economic opportunity and a safety net for hard times. By claiming to address an urgent "debt crisis," it dismantles the social contract that Americans have made with their government for decades. These Republican budgets replaced Medicare with a voucher to help pay for health insurance. But that voucher would fail to keep up with the rising cost of healthcare, so those expenses would just shift from the government to senior citizens. Many elderly Americans would no longer be able to afford healthcare, which was why President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress passed Medicare in the first place. Medicaid beneficiaries fare even worse (Harry Stein, 3/31).
Reuters: How Big Pharma Is Slowing Cancer Research
Even as scientists seek to bring new cancer treatments to market, however, drug patent issues are holding back some researchers. A major hurdle is in combination drug trials that test two or more therapies at once. Pharmaceutical companies often shy away from trials that have great potential, because the drugs may not generate profits if they are used together with a generic drug or a drug patented by a different company (Carlos Moreno, 3/31).
WBUR: Project Louise: The One Thing That Will Actually Make Me Exercise
It's hard to believe that I've been doing Project Louise for three months – one-quarter of this yearlong effort. In some ways it already feels like a year since I vowed to change my eating and exercise habits; in others I feel like a rank beginner. Here’s where it seems as if I’ve barely begun: creating a real, practical, sustainable exercise routine. As coach Allison Rimm wrote last week, I jumped in with both feet to starting the project, and I'm now starting to realize that this habit of quick, impulsive beginnings has been one of my lifelong obstacles to creating lasting change (Louise Kennedy, 3/31).