Health Care

November 18, 2009

Exclusive: Click here to see slides from the McKinsey report.  Ask doctors, hospitals, drugmakers, or insurers for their opinion of President Obama’s health care proposals, and you’ll likely get an earful about how reform will severely hurt their bottom line.

What Reform Means for "Client X"--and You
November 17, 2009

Some critics of health care reform are skeptical that it will force the health care industry to change its behavior. But at least one informed source is saying otherwise. The source is the world's most famous consulting firm, McKinsey and Company. As I report in this week's print edition, over the summer McKinsey prepared an internal document assesing the impact of reform on different sectors in the health care industry.  The document is a powerpoint presentation, addressed to "Client X," and appears to be a template that the firm's consultants can customize for different clients.

CLASS Act (Updated)
November 17, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment I’ve written before on the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act, an important but costly and complex disability provision in health reform. CLASS’s future may be determined this week. For the uninitiated, CLASS is a voluntary program in which workers can pay a monthly premium which would entitle them to monthly cash payments in the event of disability.

How to Avoid Land Mines
November 17, 2009

A few days ago in Politico, Carrie Budoff Brown and Chris Frates wrote an article on "Health reform's hidden land mines." It was, in effect, a list of all the ways in which health reform is likely to disappoint the public and/or violate pledges that reform advocates have made over the past two years. Premiums for the majority of Americans might not come down appreciably. Most people couldn't take full advantage of the insurance exchanges, which might include better options and perhaps even a government-run public plan.

Cost Control, Still Not a Fantasy
November 16, 2009

Opponents of reform have long dismissed the possibility that the bills moving through Congress might actually reduce the cost of medical care.

A Boondoggle to Love
November 16, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. The Washington Post includes a nice little article by Aaron Davis on House  provisions to extend stimulus-package Medicaid subsidies to states by six months.

How to Build a Leaner, Meaner Lobbying Machine
November 16, 2009

I agree with Jonathan that Robert Pear's story about conservative legislators parroting health-care talking points from Genentech, a biotech firm, is a case study in the outsized clout of drug industry lobbyists on the Hill, generally speaking. But it's also worth noting that Genetech--a subsidiary of Swiss industry giant Hoffman La Roche--is actually part of the Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) and not the bigger, better-known Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Pharma's Win, Your Loss
November 16, 2009

Will legislation that expands health insurance coverage also bring down the cost of medical care? That question has been driving the political conversation over reform in the last few days, as much as at an time before. And I'll have more to say on it shortly.

More for the Middle-Class, Less for the Poor
November 16, 2009

Amid all the concern about subsidy levels in health care reform comes word that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is, in fact, going to boost the financial assistance available to Americans buying health insurance. The problem? It's not the group who needs help the most--and it may come at the expense of those who do. According to Ron Pollack, executive director of liberal advocacy group Families USA, the Senate leadership has basically decided to give more help to middle-class families on the higher of the subsidy spectrum, whose incomes are 300 to 400% above the poverty line.

Curbside Consult: Who's Winning the War on Drugs?
November 15, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. American drug policy has gone badly for many years. More than 150,000 injection drug users have died of AIDS. We have endured the crack epidemic and recent dislocation from with methamphetamine use. Opiate overdose deaths have tripled in the past decade, and now outnumber gun homicides in the U.S. At great economic and human cost, we incarcerate a half-million drug offenders, more than Western Europe locks up for all types of crime.