The Operator
July 01, 2009

The first time I remember speaking with Karen Ignagni was via a TV satellite, for a debate about health care policy on CNN. It was the summer of 2007, not long after the debut of Michael Moore's Sicko, and each of us was playing our usual role. Ignagni is the telegenic president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and arguably Washington's most influential health-industry lobbyist.

Breaking: Wal-mart (!) Backs Key Reform Principle
June 30, 2009

Should the government require that employers either provide their workers with health insurance or pay some money to help defray the cost? Wonks call this an "employer mandate" and it's among reform's more controversial notions. Most reform advocates support the idea, arguing it's necessary both to raise the money necessary to finance universal coverage in the early years and to protect existing employer coverage for people who already have it.

Was The Obama Campaign A Lie?
June 23, 2009

Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur, writing in the Providence Journal, says that President Obama misled the American people: IT ISN’T QUITE FAIR to call Barack Obama a liar. During the campaign he carefully avoided committing to much of anything important that he might have to take back later. For now, I won’t quibble with The St. Petersburg Times’s Obamameter, which so far has the president keeping 30 promises and breaking only six. And yet, broadly speaking, Obama has been lying on a pretty impressive scale. MacAurthur goes on to list Obama's "lies." He provides four examples.

The Good And (mostly) Bad News For Democrats In 2010
June 19, 2009

The latest results from three respected surveys--NBC/Wall Street Journal, New York Times/CBS, and the Pew Research Center--suggest that the Obama administration is moving into a new phase. While the president remains personally popular, doubts about key aspects of his agenda are rising. If events at home and abroad prove uncooperative, Democrats could be in trouble in next year's midterms. Let's begin with the good news for the president.

How Mcallen, Texas Explains American Politics
June 18, 2009

One of the interesting parts of that Brookings feature Zubin linked to earlier is a detailed ranking of metro areas by economic performance. The results are mostly intuitive--the areas doing the best have a strong government presence (like Washington, DC), or major industries that are countercyclical (like education, which is why New Haven is doing well).* As it happens, one of the other metro areas doing very well is McAllen, Texas--which, as you'll recall from this excellent New Yorker article, is the healthcare-cost capital of the United States.

What Actual Bipartisanship Looks Like
June 17, 2009

Is it important to make health care legislation bipartisan? You can't answer that question without knowing what bipartisan health care would look like. And thanks to a quartet of former senators, we now have some idea. Sort of. For the last year, Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell have been working to hammer out a common health reform vision through what's called the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Mitchell dropped out when he joined the administration.) Assisting them in this effort were two of the top health policy minds from each party, Mark McClellan and Chris Jennings.

The Left's Laffer Curve?
June 17, 2009

Megan McArdle says there is "a growing frustration among reputable conservative economists that the promises of health care cost control have turned into the Laffer Curve of the left: a way to pretend that their favored policies don't have any costs." As something of a student of the Laffer Curve, I find the comparison preposterous. First, health care reformers are committed to finding offsetting tax hikes or spending cuts for every dollar of costs for expanded coverage. On top of that, they hope that cost-control measures can reduce rising health care costs.

"simply Dishonest." Obama? Or Bob Samuelson?
June 15, 2009

"Naive, hypocritical, or simply dishonest?" That's Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson talking about the Obama administration and its pursuit of health care reform. His argument in a nutshell: Health care costs too much money and Obama isn't serious about trying to take care of that problem. I agree wholeheardtly with the first premise. It's the second one I don't get. It's true that, in the world of health care reformers, there are those who focus on coverage almost exclusively. But Obama very clearly is not one of them.

Buyer Beware
June 12, 2009

One of the more promising signs for health care reform over the past two years has been the apparent support of the business community. Corporate executives and trade groups have repeatedly spoken out about the problems of our health care system. Even more remarkably, they have joined coalitions pledged to finding comprehensive solutions--the sorts of plans that would bring affordable insurance to all Americans while easing the financial burden many companies now face.

Taming The Insurance Wilderness
June 05, 2009

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access WeBlog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. If there's any consensus among consumers or health policy experts alike, it is that the individual insurance market doesn't work.