Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Obama Aide: Health Care To Be 'central Focus' In Budget
February 08, 2009

The Obama administration’s health care czar may be gone, but here is one hint that its commitment to pursuing major health care legislation in 2009 remains in place. On Sunday, a senior administration official told me that health care would be a “central focus” of Obama’s first budget proposal. The official didn’t specify precisely what that meant: Would the administration be asking for funds to make sure every American has insurance, or just a portion? Would there be major reforms of the way medical care is delivered?

Petition: Cuts To Stimulus Will Hurt America. Literally.
February 08, 2009

More than 500 researchers and physicians have signed a petition protesting the Senate's decision to eliminate the public health provisions from the economic recovery package. Earlier this week Harold Pollack, public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration and a regular Treatment contributor, wrote about these cuts. He helped organize the petition drive, along with the members of Doctors for Obama, a grassroots physican organization dedicated to engaging doctors in health reform.

Uncle Sam, Drug Scold
February 08, 2009

Editor's Note: We held onto this item for a bit as all hell broke loose with Senator Daschle and then with the stimulus bill. Substance abuse policy often takes a back seat to more visible matters, but we don't want this little story to get less than its due. Harold Pollack--for those of you who don't know yet--is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies.

Why It Won't Be Howard Dean; Why That's Too Bad
February 06, 2009

Howard Dean is probably not going to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.* As best as I can tell, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is not about to let Dean in the same zip code, let alone the same branch of government. That is the political reality. Still, writers should do more than reflect the political reality. They should try to change it--or, at least, explain why it's flawed. With that in mind, here are two very key assets that Dean would bring to the job--the job, I know, he'll never have. The first is management ability.

598,000 Reasons To Pass A Stimulus. Now.
February 06, 2009

This just in, via the New York Times: WASHINGTON — The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday. ... Although the United States officially slipped into a recession in December 2007, the decline was erratic and temporarily disguised by the impact of the emergency tax rebate last spring.

More Hhs Chatter--and Not Just About Bredesen
February 05, 2009

For more proof of how the left would react to the appointment of Phil Bredesen to run the Department of Health and Human Services, here's Dr. SteveB, the health care blogger over at DailyKos: This choice would represent a complete betrayal by Obama of what he ran on in so many ways. Bredesen would be a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible choice. Sort of like putting Summers in charge of economic policy or Gregg in charge of Commerce. But worse.

More Reasons Why Bredesen Is A Bad, Bad Idea
February 05, 2009

Marc Ambinder is reporting that Phil Bredesen is a serious candidate to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. Various stories around town have him being vetted or emerging as one of two finalists, although my sources for that are all second-hand, so make of that information what you will. As I wrote yesterday, Bredesen seems like a particularly poor candidate for the job. He presided over massive cuts to Tennessee's Medicaid program and, by all appearances, relished fighting with advocates for the poor more than the advocates of the cuts.

Elections Have Consequences, Good News Edition
February 05, 2009

On Wednesday, President Obama signed into a law an extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Congress had passed a similar measure last year, when the program--first created during the Clinton Administration, with bipartisan support--was up for renewal. But President Bush and his conservative allies refused to go along, saying it was "government-run health care." The bill's supporters, which included not just the Democrats but many Republicans as well, couldn't quite muster the votes to overcome the veto.

Yet More Reasons To Get Mad About The Stimulus
February 05, 2009

Directly below, public health specialist and regular Treatment contributor Harold Pollack chronicles efforts to strip smart public health investments out of the stimulus. And if that doesn't make you sufficiently angry, here's some more distressing news, via the Huffington Post: The sifters found some noteworthy nuggets in the bill.

Bredesen For Health Reform?! (updated With Alarm Bells)
February 04, 2009

Buzz this morning is that Phil Bredesen, governor of Tennessee, is under consideration to replace Tom Daschle in the administration. It's not clear whether this would be at the Department of Health and Human Services (more likely) or the White House Office of Health Reform (less likely). Of course, that's assuming the Office of Heatlh Reform remains constituted as it is now--which, by the way, is not a given. In any event, the Bredesen talk is not completely idle speculation.

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