Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Consensus on Health Care Reform Means More Than 70 Senate Votes

The Clintons have been criticized for agreeing to allow their 1993 health care reform plan to be subject to the Senate’s 60-vote rule. With the Democrats controlling what will end up to be 59 or 60 votes in the new Congress, some are arguing that the Democrats should move quickly and get their plan passed under the budget rules that would require only a simple majority.Trying to get legislation

Stimulus Spending and Health Care

Last week I was saying we were facing a $1 trillion budget deficit in the current fiscal year and that made health care reform problematic.This week, the operative number is $2 trillion.It was $1 trillion before reports that the President-Elect would be looking at a stimulus bill in the $700 billion range as well as reports his planned income tax cuts are on track and his planned income tax

"Two Girls Two Countries One Cancer"

David Whelan has an interesting article at Forbes.com following two girls through the same serious cancer diagnosis here and in Britain.As David put it, "When stories get specific, as in the cases of Zoe and Ellen, two kids from similar backgrounds with the same disease, the generalities [about the differences in our health care systems] start to break down."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Small Business Health Insurance Coverage: A Sobering Report From the Trenches

One of the things I enjoy the most about my travels across the country is meeting benefits brokers and health plan sales reps--they have the best feel for the real market and what their customers and their employees are up against.This very sobering and, from what I independently hear, accurate report about the small group health insurance market comes courtesy of Brian Klepper. Please note the

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Adult Conversation About Health Care Reform

Zeke Emanuel and Shannon Brownlee have an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post that should be required reading for anyone interested in health care reform.The title is, “5 Myths About Our Ailing Health Care System.”They suggest the “5 Myths” are:America has the best health care in the world.Somebody else is paying for your health insurance.We would save a lot if we could cut the administrative waste

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Healthy Americans Act--Wyden-Bennett Bill--Still in Play

A recent letter from 15 Senators to President-Elect Obama caught my eye.The letter was from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Bennett (R-UT), and the other 13 Senators on their health care reform bill--7 Democrats 7 Republicans, and one independent--to President-Elect Obama reminding him of the progress this bipartisan group has already made toward health care reform.As readers of this blog know, I

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Insurance Industry Reform Proposal––Little Ado About Nothing

This week the health insurance industry trade association announced that its board had approved a new policy position. The industry has agreed to guarantee the insurability of everyone if the nation passes a health insurance plan that requires everyone is covered.That’s a no-brainer for the industry to offer and not much of a deal.If everyone is in the insurance pool—sick and healthy alike—there

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daschle for HHS?

Word around town is that Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate Majority Leader, is going to be named HHS Secretary.That would mean that President-Elect Obama is going with a political and health care policy heavyweight.With word yesterday that Senator Kennedy has appointed Hillary Clinton (presuming she stays in the Senate) to take the lead on the health insurance reform portion of his health

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Health Care Reform a "Longer Term Goal" For the Obama Administration?

Under the headline in today's Washington Post, "Kennedy Announces Plan to Submit Bill For Universal Care" was this:"Some Democrats, including members of President-elect Barack Obama's circle, have begun to view expanded [health care] coverage as a longer-term goal."Is the new administration trying to send a message to its health care eager constituencies that given the economy and all of the

"The Changes We Need"

The Changes We Needby Brian KlepperThese are, as the Chinese curse reputedly called them, interesting times.If the burst of new Democratic health care reform proposals is any indication, the fresh breeze of the Obama campaign's "Yes We Can" optimism is blowing across the nation. Mr. Obama’s team is expected to make health care one of its priorities. First out, though, was Senate Finance Committee

Monday, November 17, 2008

Medicare Advantage Payments to Insurers--Baucus Zeroing In!

Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) released his health plan white paper last week.Buried in it was this regarding how private Medicare payments to HMOs should be changed:“Congress must act to level the playing field between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage payments and the Baucus plan would do so. Enacted in July 2008, MIPPA [the July physician fee fix that will end PFFS] took

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Market Capitalism and Health Care--It Will Never Be the Same

Washington Post business page columnist Steven Pearlstein's Friday column, "Toward a New International Capitalism," caught my eye.Here's a snippet:"From the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s to the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s to the Internet craze at the turn of the century to today's economic conflagration, the past 20 years have provided ample evidence that uncontrolled flows of

Friday, November 14, 2008

To the Congressional Budget Office: Please Keep Playing it Straight!

I guess this is an open letter to CBO Director Peter Orszag and his colleagues at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).I have great respect for the CBO and that has been the case under different majorities--Democratic and Republican. Never more than now.The CBO is intended to be non-partisan and objective. They provide the information and estimates the Congress needs to complete the budget

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Baucus Health Plan Proposal--Evidence There Is No Consensus on the Key Health Reform Issues

Max Baucus will be a key player in the health care debate the next two years. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee he has jurisdiction on many of the key issues including Medicare and provider payment reform.He is also a leader in the true bipartisan spirit--something crucial to actually getting reform done.Yesterday, he released a 98-page white paper, "Call to Action--Health Reform 2009."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

There is Now a Real Bipartisan Opportunity in Health Care

President-Elect Obama, and about every candidate for Congress, has said he wants to change the partisan tone in Washington. Obama, the Democratic Congressional leadership, and the Republicans have a terrific opportunity to do just that on health care when they all come to Washington early next year.As I posted earlier, I do not believe there is any chance we can see the enactment of the

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Morning After: Obama and the Dems Win Big--What It Means For Health Care

258 House and 57 Senate Democrats make it almost certain that major health reform will be passed. Right?Actually, that was the number of Democrats Bill Clinton started off with in 1993 and we know what happened to health care reform in that Congress.With similar Democratic majorities, I do not expect a major health care reform bill like the one President-Elect Barack Obama called for during the

High Costs for the Massachusetts Health Law--Sustainability is Now the Question

The Center for Studying Health System Change has just released a study examining the state of the important health reform law in Massachusetts.As one of the co-author's put it, "Improving access to heath care coverage has been a clear emphasis of the reform, but little has been done to address rapidly rising health care costs, raising questions about the longer-term viability of the reform."I can