Viewpoints: (Still) Debating Health Law’s Constitutionality; Food Labels; Lawmakers’ Abortion Divide

The Wall Street Journal: An ObamaCare Appeal From The States
For state governments, the bill presents huge new costs, as we are required to enroll 15 million to 20 million more people in our Medicaid systems. … Perhaps worse, the law expects to conscript the states as its agents in its takeover of health care. It assumes that we will set up and operate its new insurance “exchanges” for it (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 2/7). 

The New York Times: The Health Care Tweak
For a brief moment last week Republicans and Democrats agreed on something about health care reform. The Senate voted overwhelmingly — the tally was 81 to 17 — to repeal a minor provision that had brought vociferous complaints from business lobbyists. … Meanwhile, don’t expect the posturing about reform to let up (2/5).

Los Angeles Times: Constitutional Showdown
Obamacare regulates a healthcare industry that obviously spans state lines, involving billions of dollars and millions of patients flowing from state to state. When uninsured Connecticut residents fall sick on holiday in California and get free emergency room services, California taxpayers, California hospitals and California insurance policyholders foot the bill. This is an interstate issue, and Congress has power to regulate it (Akhil Reed Amar, 2/6).

McClatchy / The Myrtle Beach Sun News: GOP Needs More Leadership, Less Posturing On Health Care Law 
Our two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, are pushing bills that would repeal the law altogether or allow states to opt out without any requirements, taking us back to the place we were before — a time during which most states and the federal government failed to act effectively to rein in the nation’s No. 1 fiscal threat, rising health care costs. … What’s most fascinating about this past week’s development is the utter silence on the replace part of the repeal-and-replace mantra (Isaac Bailey, 2/6).

The New York Times: The Siege Of Planned Parenthood
As if we didn’t have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood. Maybe it’s all part of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health care law. This month, they’re going after an organization that provides millions of women with both family-planning services and basic health medical care, like pap smears and screening for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches (Gail Collins, 2/4). 

The Baltimore Sun: Restricting Abortion Access: No Laughing Matter
New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the House pro-life caucus, introduced a bill late last month called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” … Rape must be “forcible” — and statutory rape had disappeared. Incest was suddenly redefined as “with a minor.” And the mother must be in danger of death from the pregnancy, not merely at risk of serious health consequences. But following a skit on “The Daily Show,” the language in Mr. Smith’s bill quickly and without explanation reverted to the original (Susan Reimer, 2/7). 

Star Tribune: Reject New Limits On Abortion Rights
As sure as the sun rises in the east, Minnesotans can count on some type of anti-abortion legislation being introduced whenever the Legislature convenes for a session. … In fact, the issue is a matter of equity. As a legal medical procedure, abortion must be covered under most medical plans. That same right to coverage should be extended to those of lesser means. A woman should not be denied this important reproductive choice simply because of her income. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, state and federal funding paid for about 3,700 abortions in 2008, at a cost of about $1.5 million (2/6).

Houston Chronicle: Cuts Would Devastate Older Texans
Who will take care of our aging parents and grandparents if we keep putting up roadblocks to quality long-term care, both community-based and in nursing homes? Will the services be there for us some day if we need them? All these are fair questions in light of recent budget proposals being bandied about at the Texas Capitol. Under consideration is a 10 percent cut in payments to Medicaid providers — including community-based services and nursing homes – on top of a recent 2 percent rate cut that’s already gone into effect for nursing homes (Ollie Besteiro, 2/6).

Los Angeles Times: Missing Out On Health
Last month, the state lost an opportunity to receive tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to provide healthcare to uninsured kids. Why? It didn’t enroll enough eligible children into its government health plans. … It wasn’t that there weren’t enough eligible kids in the state (Phil Lebherz, 2/6). 

The Arizona Republic: We Die Laughing; They’re Left To Die
When a particular group of 96 Arizona citizens says that state legislators are “killing” them, they don’t mean that our elected officials make them laugh. They mean that lawmakers who could save their lives are instead letting them die. They’re the 96 individuals who need life-saving transplants that Gov. Jan Brewer and the legislature have decided that Arizona’s Medicaid program will no longer cover (E. J. Montini, 2/6).

The Seattle Times: Washington should Insure The Futures Of Children With Autism
The state Legislature is considering Senate Bill 5059, also known as “Shayan’s Law,” which would require health-insurance coverage for thousands of Washington individuals diagnosed with autism. Only proven treatments will be covered, making sure that costs are contained. … The choice for Washington legislators is clear: either save a generation of children today through a minimal increase in insurance premiums, or continue to burden taxpayers with millions of dollars in long-term costs of caring for untreated children (Geraldine Dawson, 2/6). 

USA Today: Our View On Health: ‘Nutrition Keys’ Open War On Obesity
Now that the Super Bowl food fest of cheese-stuffed pizzas, fried wings and salty chips is complete, here’s a morning-after thought…: Nearly a third of the nation’s children and 68% of adults are overweight or obese. … Whether on labels, websites or menus, facts about food content are the surest way to deter people from eating as though every day were Super Bowl Sunday (2/6). 

USA Today: Opposing View On Health: Food Makers’ Labels Get An F
The central question in the debate over front-of-package nutrition labels is what label would best help consumers choose more healthful foods. … There’s a reason we rely on the government, not industry, to regulate labeling as varied as gas mileage on cars, interest rates on loan documents and the existing Nutrition Facts label (Michael F. Jacobson, 2/6).

Des Moines Register: Mealpractice Reform Rests On Thin Evidence
Washington lawmakers who advocate for medical malpractice reform assume they know what goes on in doctors’ offices. They say physicians order unnecessary tests because they fear being sued. So-called “defensive medicine” drives up health spending, the argument goes (2/5).

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