Health Care

Opposing the Stupak Amendment, Respectfully
November 11, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Some weeks ago, I was standing out front of a traditional Italian grocery wearing a Knights of Columbus smock raising money for programs that serve the mentally disabled. I wish university fund raising were this easy. I waved my giant Tootsie Rolls, and watched cash flow into my tin can. At one point, a silver-haired man emerged from a Camero to hand me a dollar.

New Evidence of Pharma's Sweetheart Deal
November 10, 2009

Critics have complained that a drug industry got a sweetheart deal when it struck a bargain with the White House and Senate Finance Committee over health care reform. There’s new reason to think those critics were right. It comes from an October forecast by IMS Health, a respected global research and consulting firm. The report, which IMS distributed to clients and which a source provided, projects that the drug industry will see average annual growth of 3.5 percent between 2008 and 2013. Back in March, IMS had projected no growth at all during that same five-year stretch.

Why Is the Senate Going to Take So Long?
November 10, 2009

The House health care bill took all of ten days to pass, from the day Nancy Pelosi formally introduced the legislation to its historic passage on Saturday. The Senate is slated to take up the bill as early as next Monday, but it’s likely to be a much longer slog. Due to differences between House and Senate rules, there’s plenty on the Senate side that could delay the bill for weeks, or even months, prompting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to announce that the final bill won’t pass until Christmas, at the earliest.

Debating the Health Care Bill
November 09, 2009

I had a friend visiting me this weekend who had fervently backed Barack Obama for President (against the “devil-woman” Hillary), but who now thinks Obama has betrayed his followers – most recently by agreeing to disastrous compromises in the health insurance bill.

Calling Out Joe Lieberman
November 09, 2009

Via Think Progress, Joe Liebeman was on Fox News Sunday this weekend, making filibuster threats again. LIEBERMAN: A public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.

The House Bill Is "Worse Than Nothing"? Really?
November 09, 2009

Marcia Angell, M.D., is one of the nation's most well-respected experts on health care issues. And with good reason. A board-certified pathologist who also trained in internal medicine, she's a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Her writing credits include The Truth About Drug Companies and an award-winning article at TNR on the same subject.

The Abortion Amendment: Could Obama Have Done More?
November 09, 2009

At the American Prospect and Feministing, Ann Friedman reminds us that the significance of the Stupak amendment goes way beyond the funding of abortion services for people who happen to buy coverage through the new insurance exchanges: On some level, I don't care about the nitty-gritty details of this amendment. This isn't just about how the money is allocated or what workarounds exist. This has me so incredibly infuriated because it further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care.

A Prescription for the Healers
November 09, 2009

I hope readers take the time to read David Leonhardt’s terrific Sunday New York Times Magazine piece on Intermountain Healthcare. It is a great introduction to the changes that organized medicine must adopt to deliver team- and evidence-based care. (I wish we used the term evidence informed treatment, which brings fewer connotations of cookie-cutter care.) This transition requires changes in the way doctors and hospitals are paid. It also requires changing medical professional culture to embrace a team approach.

It's the Building, Not the Blueprint, That Matters
November 08, 2009

One of the most revealing moments in Saturday's debate over health care reform was when Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York took the floor. Weiner is a rising star in the Democratic Party, having quickly established himself as an unusually engaging speaker. But, in this case, it was Weiner's effective use of a prop that stood apart. The prop was the handbook for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, or FEHBP--which is, very roughly speaking, a model for how a reformed health care system might work.

The Drama Was In the History
November 08, 2009

Saturday's debate on the House floor was at various turns entertaining, depressing, amusing, and even enraging. But, strictly speaking, it was not particularly dramatic. Yes, the final vote was close. A bill needs 218 votes to pass. This one got 220, including one not entirely expected Republican. And at least according to one Capitol Hill source, the leadership didn't have a bunch of extra votes in its pocket.

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