Suzy Khimm

Tom Coburn Wants a Gay-GOP Alliance. Seriously?
October 20, 2009

In their latest attempt to turn the tide against the public plan, some Republicans have begun trying to appeal to gay Americans to join their anti-government crusade. As The Hill notes today, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has co-authored an op-ed blasting “government-run health care” for The Advocate, the leading LGBT magazine. Together with his co-author, GOProud’s Christopher Barron, Coburn rails against the Ryan White CARE Act for forcing AIDS patients onto waiting lists to receive life-saving drugs from a government program.

How Baucus Would Make Health Care More Affordable
October 19, 2009

How can Obamacare make insurance more affordable for Americans, given the current state of the reform bill? One approach--supported by many progressives--is to raise the insurance subsidies provided to lower-income families. The other is to shrink the benefits package that insurance companies are required to provide. In a conference call organized this afternoon by Families USA, Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus explained exactly what the latter might look like.

Harkin: Senate Dems Looking at House Funding Ideas
October 16, 2009

The big question looming over reform negotiations in the Senate is how to pay for expanding insurance coverage. The Senate Finance bill calls for an excise tax, to be levied on plans with generous benefits. But many Democrats don't like the idea. So will they scale it back? And, if so, can they will come up with an alternative?

What Does Snowe Want Now?
October 13, 2009

As the only Republican who supported Baucus's bill, Olympia Snowe will wield considerable leverage as the negotiations move out of committee, to the Senate floor and, eventually, into conference committee with the House. As she said during the proceedings today, "My vote today is my vote today and it doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow." So what will Snowe be pushing for in the final Senate bill?

Did AHIP Just Empower the Left?
October 13, 2009

Activists on the left have long insisted that insurance companies aren’t to be trusted. But up until now, it's been hard to make the charge stick, since the insurance lobby--a.k.a., America's Health Insurance Plans--has been cooperating with the White House and its allies.  AHIP's new paper, though, may have changed things.

Enzi: Dems Changed HELP Bill Without GOP Consent
October 12, 2009

As Obama's health care overhaul comes closer and closer to becoming a reality, Republicans have begun to accuse Democrats of sabotaging the very process of making the bill into a law. Mike Enzi--the ranking Republican member of the Senate HELP Committee--has accused the Democratic HELP staff of substantially altering the HELP bill as the plan was translated into its final legislative text, which was sent to the Senate floor last month.

The Medical Device Lobby Ramps up the Pressure
October 09, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has the goods on the medical device industry’s “11th hour scramble” to hammer out a health care deal with the Baucus folks. In dispute is the $40 billion in fees that the Senate Finance bill would impose on the device industry—a proposal that isn’t in any of the other bills.

The Sunstein-Thaler Version of the Public Option?
October 08, 2009

The Huffington Post has broken the news that yet another incarnation of the public could be coming into favor with Senate Democrats: a plan that would begin with a robust, national public plan, but allow state governments to “opt out” of the system should they chose. It’s worth noting that the compromise carries echoes of the Cass Sunstein-Richard Thaler school of policy design—the government would try to nudge things in the right direction by making the public plan the default option, but gives states the ability to opt out if they had the impetus, energy, and will to exclude themselves.

Could the Olympics Mean More Misery for Rio's Poor?
October 05, 2009

There’s no doubt that the IOC’s decision last week marks a huge symbolic victory for Brazil, South America, and the rest of the developing world. But could the arrival of the 2016 Olympics do more harm than good for Rio de Janeiro’s poorest residents? It could depend, in part, on how the Brazilian government plans to beef up security in advance of the Games. Security crackdowns in Rio de Janeiro have often amounted to police raids on the sprawling shantytowns, home to a third of the city’s population, where  drug traffickers have ensconced themselves.

The Bush Years, Redux! Abstinence-Only Education Is Back.
September 30, 2009

Last night, the Senate Finance Committee tried to ensure that one of the failures of the Bush administration will live on--in sex-ed classes across the country. Orrin Hatch’s amendment to provide $50 million a year for abstinence-only education passed by one vote, 12-11, with Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad joining the Republicans to tip the balance. After Obama’s election, abstinence advocates feared that Bush’s massive federal program for abstinence-only education--totaling some $176 million a year--would be dismantled.