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.

BREAKING: House Passes Health Reform
November 07, 2009

At 11:14 p.m., the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America" Act. Cheers erupted when the tally reached 218 votes, enough to pass the bill. The final count was 220 for, 215 against, with one Republican (Joseph Cao of Louisiana) joining the majority of Democrats. More soon.

Watch the House Health Care Debate Live
November 07, 2009

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How the "Government Takeover" Meme Took Over
November 07, 2009

Though comparatively less divisive than abortion debate roiling the House this weekend, the immigration issue in the health-care bill also has yet to be settled. The controversy is over whether to prohibit unauthorized immigrants from purchasing insurance that’s available through the new insurance exchanges. The Senate Finance bill includes such a prohibition, and conservatives have been pushing to include a similar one in the House bill.

Abortion Rights Opponents Get Their Day--and Maybe Their Way
November 07, 2009

Opponents of abortion rights won a significant political victory last night, making it more likely that millions of American women will no longer be able to purchase insurance that covers abortion services. At issue is what happens inside the new insurance exchanges, through which small businesses and people purchasing coverage on their own would shop for insurance. People purchasing coverage through the exchanges would be eligible for subsidies if their household incomes were below four times the poverty level.

A Tribute to Dingell--and History
November 07, 2009

At around 10:40 a.m., the House erupted into applause as Representative John Dingell of Michigan took the gavel in order to preside over the House of Representatives. Dingell, the longest serving representative in Congress, has been pursuing universal health care since the day he took office in 1955. It's a crusade that Dingell inherited from his father, John Dingell, Sr. who in 1945 co-sponsored the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill.

EXCLUSIVE: The Insurers' Latest Scare Campaign
November 06, 2009

A little less than a month ago, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association--the trade group representing state-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans--released a misleading study suggesting that health care reform would mean higher premiums for small businesses and individuals buying coverage on their own. The basis for the findings were calculations by the consulting firm, Oliver Wyman.

Is Cost Control a Joke?
November 06, 2009

For all of the crazy arguments against health care reform, a few of them are entirely sensible--and worth taking seriously. As I write in my latest Kaiser Health News column, which appeared on TNR’s home page yesterday, one of those is the worry that Congress won’t follow through with promises to raise the revenue--or find the savings--necessary to finance expansions of health insurance. In other words, Congress may pass a law calling for reductions in Medicare expenditures or raising an assortment of new taxes.

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