Ezra Klein, channeling Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson: There is a simple explanation for why American health care costs so much more than health care in any other country: because we pay so much more for each unit of care.
When Joe Lieberman declared on yesterday's “Face the Nation” that no health care reform bill at all would be preferable to one with the public option, he reminded me less of a wannabe John Boehner than a bombast on the other end of the political spectrum: Howard Dean. Like his former opponent, Dean is no stranger to grandstanding for attention. Less than two months ago, Dean made a similarly extreme proclamation at a DC town hall event I attended, declaring that no reform bill would be better than one without the public option.
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. A week ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was upset when The Yes Men, a group of pranksters and activists, held a fake press conference, claiming that the Chamber has reversed their opposition to climate change legislation. It’s true that the Chamber was misrepresented.
During the Bush years, a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government was writing a book called Savin’ it! on abstinence education in the public schools. As part of his research, he contacted then-Attorney General John Ashcroft with a request for personal testimony.
While the House bill comes down much harder on Big Pharma than the Senate, it gives the medical device industry a big break. As The Wall Street Journal points out today, the House bill cuts the $40 billion tax on the device industry that’s in the Senate Finance Committee down to $20 million.
Senator Ron Wyden has been promoting a universal health care plan for almost three years. And in the last few months, as it's become apparent that his plan wouldn't be the basis for final legislation, he's narrowed his cause to promoting one of its chief elements: "choice." The idea works this way: Under the proposals moving through Congress, most people with access to employer-sponsored insurance would have to take it.
The business community is afraid of the public plan. David Williams says it shouldn't be. You'll never guess whose insurance policy pays for abortion services. Read Amy Sullivan to find out. The graphic truth about House versus Senate coverage provisions. Via the office of Rep. Jim Cooper, via Ezra Klein. That ridiculous claim of $700 billion in waste? Not so ridiculous after all. Christopher Weaver explains. And must-read of the day: Brian Beutler has reconstructed the deliberations about the public plan between the White House and Senate Democratic leadership.
Could Evan Bayh be backing off his threat to join the Republican filibuster of the health care reform bill?
Among the other important distinctions between the new House bill and what the Senate Finance Committee produced is the treatment of the pharmaceutical industry. The Senate Finance bill was true to the deal the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America struck with the White House and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, as first revealed by the New York Times and Huffington Post. PhRMA vowed to endorse reform and advertise on its behalf.
Julie Appleby, at Kaiser Health News, uncovers a worrisome loophole in the Senate Finance legislation: The first year the legislation would take effect, people getting subsidized coverage would be required to pay from 2 to 12 percent of their incomes for insurance. The government would pick up the rest of the tab. People with lower incomes would pay less and those with higher incomes more. But in the second year, it changes.