Viewpoints: GOP Needs To Refine Its Message On Health Law; Battle Over School Lunches This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The New York Times: The Vanishing Cry of ‘Repeal It’ It was supposed to be so easy this election year for Republican congressional candidates. All they would have to do was shout “repeal Obamacare!” and make a crack about government doctors and broken websites, and they could coast into office on a wave of public fury. … But it has not quite worked out that way. … That sentiment conflicts with the Republican playbook, which party leaders are suddenly trying to rewrite. The result has been an incoherent mishmash of positions, as candidates try to straddle a widening gap between blind hatred of health reform and the public’s growing recognition that much of it is working (6/1). Politico: Running in 2016? Don’t Like Obamacare? Better Offer An Alternative. I am of the view that any candidates thinking about running for the Republican nomination in 2016 have to make clear that while they seek to repeal Obamacare, they also want to put in place a better health care system than the one we had before the law was passed in 2010. It is essential, therefore, that each candidate articulate a set of reforms that can plausibly replace Obamacare and, more importantly, address the challenge of rising health care costs (Lanhee Chen, 6/1). Bloomberg: Dr. Carson Will Find Politics Is Best Left to Politicians [Dr. Ben] Carson, a retired physician at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, has become a favorite of the political right as he weighs a run for the Republican presidential nomination. … In his calm, appealing manner, he unleashed a harsh critique of the Affordable Care Act at the National Prayer Breakfast last year, in front of President Barack Obama. He has gone on to call Obamacare “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” which, he said, it resembles. He later explained he was talking about any attempt to take away an individual’s control of his or her life. He hasn’t included Medicare in that critique yet (Albert R. Hunt, 6/1). Forbes: Five Alternative Futures For Obamacare [T]here is more uncertainty about what will happen to our health care system over the next five years than at any other time during the more than four decades I have been studying health policy matters. The range of possibilities include full repeal, repeal and replacement post-2016, morphing into “zombie legislation,” Medicare redux and H.J. Res. 263 redux … We can do much better than Obamacare. Put another way: if Obamacare is the best this nation can do, our best days are behind us (Chris Conover, 6/1).The New York Times: Bad Food In School Cafeterias Republicans on a powerful House committee have balked at requiring all schools to serve healthy lunches in the coming school year. The action drew a well-deserved rebuke from the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has focused public attention on combating obesity among young people through exercise and better nutrition. Let’s hope the Senate holds out against such inanity (6/1). The Washington Post: Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move!’ Goes Too Far The first lady’s “Let’s Move!” program and her focus on whole foods (as opposed to fast) and water instead of sodas have been welcome developments. Who better to bring needed attention to such issues? Obama is merely expanding her maternal focus to include all those public school kids whose mothers apparently have forgotten how to make a sandwich. Or whose fathers have forgotten to say, “Get those plugs out of your ears and make friends with the lawn mower” — or whatever its urban equivalent. But, as is often the case with mammoth federal programs, one size does not fit all (Kathleen Parker, 5/30).The New York Times: A Vote On Medical Marijuana The New York State Assembly easily approved a law legalizing medical marijuana last Tuesday, and there appear to be enough votes to pass similar legislation in the State Senate if that chamber’s leaders agree to allow a vote. They ought to do so before the legislative session ends on June 19. The bills would make the drug available, under tight regulation, to patients who, in many cases, do not get relief from other medications (6/1). The Denver Post: Getting Serious On Rx-Drug Overdoses Robert Valuck, professor of pharmacy at the University of Colorado, likens the prodigious task of reducing the country’s non-medical use of prescription drugs to turning an aircraft carrier. “The forces are so large,” he said. Deaths linked to prescription opioid use have doubled in 10 years in Colorado. For that matter, nonmedical use of painkillers is 19 percent higher here than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … One idea that could help became law last week when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill to modify the state’s prescription drug monitoring program to better identify abuse and prevent overdoses (5/30).