Health Care

The Best Way Forward
March 13, 2010

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Special Correspondent for The Treatment. More in sorrow than in anger, Washington Times editorialists are concerned that President Obama doesn't do enough to control costs. The Times particularly chides the President for delaying the proposed "Cadillac tax" on costly insurance plans. One original cost-control measure was to impose a tax on high-quality insurance, dubbed Cadillac plans….

'We Will Likely Vote Friday or Saturday'
March 12, 2010

Somewhere in the White House or Capitol Hill, I imagine, is a whiteboard that looks like this: August recess September Columbus Day Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's State of the Union Valentine's Day St. Patrick's Day And now passing health care reform by St. Patrick's Day, which is next Wednesday, seems impossible.

The Public Option, Still Dead
March 12, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just declared that the public option is dead. Again. And she's right. Again. For the last few weeks, public option advocates have waged a heroic campaign to revive the public option by getting individual Senators to endorse it. The idea was to take advantage of the reconciliation process, in which fifty-plus-one senators can pass legislation without getting filibustered. The public option never got 60 votes in the Senate; that's why it didn't end up in the final Senate bill. But it got a lot more than 50. But things are not so simple.

Grains of Salt, Keep Them Handy
March 12, 2010

A while ago Ezra Klein said he wasn't obsessively following the declarations of every member, in part because everybody would be posturing and he couldn't take their statements at face value. He's got the right idea. It's hard to ignore what members say and, surely, often those statements have actual news value. But, at a time like this, you should assume that anything a lawmaker says may not be indicative of how that lawmaker atually feels--or, at least, how that lawmaker will feel in a few days.

The Unofficial Official Word on Public Opinion
March 12, 2010

As first reported by Chris Cilizza in the Washington Post, pollster Joel Benenson is circulating a memo arguing that health care reform has become more popular. Writes Benenson: When comparing the average from the three months prior to the President’s State of the Union speech to the five weeks since then, the data shows a 13-point shift in “favoring vs. opposing health care.” (The averages for both of these time periods filters out Rasmussen polling, which has described as having a strong “house effect” that leans Republican). ...

Australia Can Wait. Reform Cannot.
March 12, 2010

Two things have become clear in the last few days. One: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants think they can pass health care reform and are ready to try. Two: They probably can't get it done by Wednesday, March 17, the day before President Obama was to leave on an extended foreign trip. So everybody wanted to know, would Obama delay or postpone his trip, in order to see the vote through?

Two Major Developments. Or Not.
March 12, 2010

If you were following the news on Thursday, you probably heard about one if not both of these developments: 1) The Senate Parliamentarian issued a ruling, effectively forcing the House to pass the Senate health care bill before the Senate could consider amendments to it. This is, of course, not what the House wants to do. 2) House leadership signaled they were breaking off negotiations with Bart Stupak over abortion.

Hurry Up and Wait? (Updated)
March 11, 2010

Whether it’s Intrade, the polls, or the increasingly panicked predictions of doom from Republicans, the signs all suggest that the prospects for passing health care reform have been improving. And that's not just luck. Although President Obama and his allies have benefited from exogenous events, particularly the Blue Cross rate hikes, it seems clear they’ve made smart strategic moves, too. In particular, they’ve managed to simplify the debate and speed it up. So it’s a bit unnerving to read, and to hear, that House Democrats want to slow things down and make them more complicated.

Tangled up in Blue
March 11, 2010

When Alma Dickson slipped on an icy sidewalk in Dallas, Texas, she knew she was hurt. But she wasn’t sure that she could pay for the medical care she needed. The year was 1929 and Dickson, a schoolteacher, didn’t make enough money to pay for x-rays and treatment on her own. But Dickson had recently signed up for something new: A plan under which she paid a monthly premium in exchange for a promise of care at a local Dallas hospital.

Skin in the Game, Congressional Style
March 10, 2010

You’ve probably never heard of Section 1312, section D, of the Senate health care reform bill, since it would affect just a few thousand people at most. But symbolically it’s among the bill’s most important provisions. And it's worth mentioning in the days before (hopefully) final congressional voting begins. The provision would require that members of Congress and their staff get insurance through the new insurance exchanges, once they are up and running.