Viewpoints: Ryan Budget Not A Balanced Diet; DEA War On Pharmacies; The Debate Over Medicaid Block Grants

The Washington Post: Paul Ryan's Budget Plan: Dessert First, Vegetables Later
The mother of all tax expenditures — the tax-free treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance — amounts to $2 trillion over 10 years in lost income-tax revenue, not including the additional impact on payroll tax collections. … Pause to ask yourself: Are Ryan and his fellow Republicans going to tell people they have to pay tax on the value of their health insurance? … (Hint: If you think that’s a possibility, consider the pitched battle, during the health-care debate, over subjecting only the Cadillac-iest of health care plans to a tax) (Ruth Marcus, 3/22).

The Fiscal Times: The Ryan Budget Plan: More Fantasy Than Reality
In my opinion, the Ryan budget should be seen as nothing more than a PR document for Republicans so they can say they have a plan to balance the budget, cut taxes, and cure the common cold. It may serve that narrow purpose, although many Republicans are saying that it doesn't go far enough in slashing spending. I wish I could buy some of the stuff these guys are drinking or smoking (Bruce Bartlett, 3/22). 

Reuters: Why GOP Medicare Privatization Is Wrong Approach
Medicare critics often point to government bureaucracy as a principal cause of exploding cost. Yet half of the projected growth will be driven by rising enrollment as the country ages. So the most important question is how to provide healthcare to seniors with the greatest efficiency. On that score, Medicare, as it exists now as a government entitlement program, is the clear winner. The program provides healthcare much more efficiently than private sector health plans, mainly due to the power it has to control payments made to providers (Mark Miller, 3/22).

Politico: IPAB And Medicare Costs Are Bad Medicine
When faced with the need to cut something — anything — to hit its target, what will IPAB choose? Most likely, it will be looking to the expensive new therapies, drugs and devices that represent the cutting edge of medical advance. Innovators will not continue to sink billions into research-and-development efforts if the financial rug is regularly pulled from under them. Medicare does need to be put on a budget. But it should not be done in a way that endangers the very beneficiaries for which it was created — and for whom it should be reformed and preserved  (Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 3/22).

The Fiscal Times: How Rationing Eye Care Can Save Medicare Billions
It's ironic that the symbolic vote (by the House to kill IPAB) – it will go nowhere in the Senate – took place on the day after a entirely different outside advisory panel met at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to discuss coverage issues. The hearing offered a revealing glimpse into how rationing could actually save beneficiaries and the government billions of dollars a year without jeopardizing care one iota. That's right, billions (Merrill Goozner, 3/22).

Chicago Tribune: Old Scare Tactic A New Weapon In Abortion Wars
New Hampshire House Bill 1659 is titled the "Women's Right to Know Act," but a more accurate title would be the "Activists' Right to Lie to Women Act." The measure, now moving through the Granite State Legislature, requires that at least 24 hours before undergoing a medical abortion, a woman must be informed "orally and in person" of "the increased risk of breast cancer" associated with abortion. ... It's also false, according to virtually every authoritative medical body (Eric Zorn, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: The DEA's War On Pharmacies – And Pain Patients
Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration abruptly revoked the narcotics license held by the distributor Cardinal Health, preventing that firm from shipping prescription pain drugs to thousands of Florida pharmacies and hospitals. It's the latest tactic in the DEA's struggle to stem the illicit use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin (Scott Gottlieb, 3/22).

The New York Times: Fixing New York's Budget
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are scrambling to conclude negotiations on the $132.5 billion 2012-13 state budget by March 31. As they push to finish their main piece of business, a few important items in the budget deserve notice: New York City will be unfairly penalized in the state Medicaid program unless the Legislature adopts Mr. Cuomo’s Medicaid savings plan for local governments (3/22).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Bill Means Well, But Is Naïve
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., has introduced a bill to make Medicaid into a block grant versus an entitlement program co-funded by states and the federal government, as it is now. Co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, the bill is a well-meaning but naive and misguided attempt to control state and federal expenditures…. A single payer program covering all Americans should have been passed in 2009 — and it will be, in future years when the true financial and human costs of misguided reforms like the ACA, Medicaid block grants and Medicare vouchers are clear (Jack Bernard, 3/22).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Put Funds Where They Help
This common-sense bill would repeal the federal mandates of Obamacare and send federal Medicaid and CHIP allotments back to the states in the form of flexible block grants. No two states are alike, and Georgians shouldn't be subject to one-size-fits-all federal standards of care. If our bill were to pass, there would be fewer Washington regulations, more efficiency when it comes to providing care, and the freedom for states to determine the coverage terms and physician payment systems which make the most sense based on their own demographics (Paul Broun, 3/22).

Houston Chronicle: Texans Can Rely On Continued Services Of The Women’s Health Program
While I can't predict when the legal issue will be resolved, I know with great certainty the services provided by the Women's Health Program aren't going anywhere. Gov. Rick Perry has directed us to continue providing these vital services to low-income Texas women, and that's exactly what we'll do. Much more challenging, however, is making sure women get accurate information about the program in the midst of organized attempts to confuse and frighten those who rely on it (Tom Suehs, 3/22).

Note to readers: Yesteday's Daily Report misattributed Paul Ryan's Path To Nowhere, which appared in The Washington Post. This opinion was written by Matt Miller.

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.