When Greener Means Healthier
July 21, 2009

Since controlling health care costs is the topic du jour in Washington right now, it's worth pointing out two environmental policies that could have some ancillary health benefits. First, it's true that gasoline taxes tend to be the ultimate political no-fly zone. But new research suggests that higher gas prices wouldn't just cut back on our carbon emissions—they might also cut back on our waistlines (and, accordingly, our medical bills).

The Imac Proposal: Obama's Answer On Cost Control
July 17, 2009

As discussed below, the administration is pushing its idea to create an "Independent Medicare Advisory Commission" that would set payment policies within Medicare, subject to approval by the President and Congress. The idea is similar to a proposal West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, has been circulating. Today, the administation formally submitted its proposal as a bill. Below is a letter from Budget Director Peter Orszag, explaining the proposal; it went to the leadership and relevant committee chairs in both houses.

Elmendorf: More Cost Control; Orszag: We're Already On It.
July 17, 2009

Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congresional Budget Office, sent tremors through Washington when he gave congressional testimony on Thursday. Appearing first before the Senate Finance Committee and then the House Ways and Means Committee, Elmendorf declared that his office had not yet seen evidence that health reform legislation would substantially reduce the cost of medical care over the long run.

Challenging The Obama Team’s Economic Narrative
July 16, 2009

CBO director Doug Elmendorf’s written testimony before the Senate budget committee today should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding our long-term fiscal plight. Among its many instructive features, it challenges--tacitly but fundamentally--the Obama administration’s dominant fiscal narrative. The president and his economic team have tirelessly argued that reforming health care is the key to regaining fiscal stability. In the very long run, no doubt, this is true. But over the next decade (or even the next generation), it is not true.

Breaking: Ama Endorses House Bill.
July 16, 2009

Via Health Care for America Now: The American Medical Association just sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, endorsing the health reform proposal put forward by three House committees. This is unexpected. Or, at least, I wasn't expecting it. Recent signals from the AMA suggested they were reluctant to embrace reform, in no small part because they believed a public insurance option would underpay them. But the AMA letter contains no caveats. It is a straightforward endorsement. And that makes it a pretty big deal.

Sorting Out The Great Pet V. Human Health Care Debate
July 14, 2009

This chart from Andrew Biggs at The American showing how spending on human and animal medical care has grown at nearly the same clip has gotten a lot of attention around the web:   The point Biggs wants to bring home is that we shouldn't be looking at the growth rate in spending but the overall level: Two things are interesting here: first, the rate of growth of spending from 1984 to 2006 wasn’t all that different—and in both cases, spending grew faster than the rate of economic growth.

At What Cost?
July 14, 2009

Negotiations over health care reform screeched to a halt late last week when 40 centrist Democrats--members of the House Blue Dog Coalition--signed a letter saying they could not support the House’s emerging legislation without significant changes. Their major complaint? They said the House bill would not do enough to bring down health care costs and, by extension, limit the taxpayers' liabilities. Without more changes to reduce the cost of medical care, they warned, it would be unwise to back massive expansions of insurance coverage.

Willa Is My God-daughter
July 09, 2009

I can't remember how many years ago this was, although it's probably at least twenty-odd, I would say. The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore Jr., bishop of the the New York diocese of the Anglican Church, an arch-liberal aristocrat of the Episcopal communion, commended Willa Brown to my care to assure her Christian education. I also can't recall his exact words. But they were stentorian and they echoed off the pillars and nave of the forever unfinished Cathedral of St.

A Moneyball Approach To Health Reform
July 08, 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. Yesterday, we had yet another health reform/CBO moment, when a published report indicated that the Congressional Budget Office had scored the House proposal at $1.5 trillion dollars.

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.