Today’s Opinions: GOP Rerun; Finding Bipartisanship; Pawlenty’s Legacy

The New York Times: Get Ready For A GOP Rerun
You just can’t close the door on this crowd. The party that brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, that led us into Iraq and the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that would like to take a hammer to Social Security and a chisel to Medicare, is back in control of the House of Representatives with the expressed mission of undermining all things Obama (Bob Herbert, 1/3).

The Washington Post: A Health-Care Fight Democrats Should Welcome
If the incoming Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is serious about trying to repeal health-care reform, there’s only one appropriate Democratic response: “Make my day” (Eugene Robinson, 1/4).

Kaiser Health News: Improving The Health Law In 2011: Realistic Ways to Reach Bipartisan Compromise
The new health care law can be changed in ways that would make it acceptable to a bipartisan majority in the new Congress — and, therefore, to the American people. But to find this elusive middle ground requires consideration of the competing philosophies at the heart of the nation’s political divisions regarding this sweeping measure (Robert Laszewski, 1/4).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Pawlenty Left The State A Lot Better Off
(Former Gov. Tim) Pawlenty showed that health care reform can work without massive government takeovers or mandates. He pushed through needed reforms to make Minnesota’s health care system more market-driven, patient-centered and quality-focused. He enacted the nation’s most ambitious health care payment reforms — paying for quality rather than volumes of procedures (Brian McClung, 1/3).

The Seattle Times: Were Social Security, Medicare “Raided”?
It’s not that politicians spent the money from the Medicare tax. It’s the birthrate problem plus the cost-of-medical-care problem (Bruce Ramsey, 1/3).

Detroit Free Press: DMC Fines Are Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Readers intent on their own end-of-2010 errands may not have noticed the eleventh hour settlement in which the Detroit Medical Center agreed to pay a $30 million fine for “technical violations” of various federal laws regulating the health care industry. … The violations DMC conceded may be common in the hospital industry. Among other things, the Detroit hospital system revealed that it may have leased office space and provided advertising to referring physicians at below market rates and submitted claims for Medicare and Medicaid services that were not supported by “available documentation.” But practices of that sort contribute to the exorbitant cost of health care. It is prudent for a nation interested in reducing that cost to discourage them (1/4).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Pro & Con: Is Health Care Reform A ‘Government Takeover’?
It is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers. It’s true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market (Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan, 1/3). The Journal-Constitution also includes a column (noted yesterday by KHN in another paper) by Grace-Marie Turner criticizing the health law.

San Francisco Chronicle: Prescription Disposal Program Is Unneeded
San Francisco’s city leaders are poised to pass an ordinance today requiring name-brand drug manufacturers to pay for collection and disposal of unused prescription medicines to curb prescription misuse and environmental impacts…public health would be better served by further educating people on disposing medication through waste collection systems, where it will be processed safely — not by disposing medication into toilets (Patrick Moore, 1/4).

Houston Chronicle: Final Answer: Terminal Patients Deserve A Say In How They Die
Without knowing the patient’s wishes, doctors and loved ones generally tend to err on the side of Big Medicine, of keeping the dying person alive no matter how invasive, painful or expensive the procedure. Pilot programs show that often, that’s not what patients want. Doing what patients actually want is actually cheaper. And, of course, it’s the right thing to do (1/3).

The Kansas City Star: Don’t Reignite ‘Death Panel’ Insanity
As of Jan. 1, doctors can be reimbursed through Medicare for consultations about end-of-life care or advance planning. This is not a step toward euthanasia. And “death panels” do not exist (Mary Sanchez, 1/3).

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