Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books and articles, both scholarly and popular, including The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006; paperback, January 2008) and Health At Risk: America’s Ailing Health System and How to Heal It (2008). As closed-door discussions continue in the Senate, the idea of triggering the public health insurance option is once again on the table.
Time's Karen Tumulty and Michael Scherer have a thoroughly enlightening, and thoroughly depressing, article in the new Time about how the drug industry got its way in health care reform. The industry spends more than $600,000 a day in lobbying, they note. And, from the looks of things, it's money well spent. The focus of the article is the debate over "exclusivity" for biological drugs--that is, the period during which the maker of a drug can manufacture and sell it without threat of generic competition.
Doctors, who didn't win repeal of Sustainable Growth Rate formula in Medicare (Jay Newton-Small, Time) The insurance industry, which has turned out to be its own worst enemy (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect) The Washington media, which has all too predictably failed to tell an accurate story about the politics of the public option (Timothy Noah, Slate) Oh, and if you're going to read one thing today, check out Austin Frakt's post about low-income people with chronic health conditions or disabilities. Why does this matter?
Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Imagine that you walk outside your home one rainy morning to get your morning paper. You slip and fall on your slippery front steps, breaking your back and suffering irreparable spinal cord damage. Even if you have perfect medical insurance, you would quickly discover that you would need a lot of help. You might need a home health care aid. You might need ramps and equipment for your house, a handicap-accessible van.
This is the second installment of our new feature: Curbside Consult. For the uninitiated, curbside consults are a venerable medical tradition, whereby a doctor seeks informal advice from an experienced colleague in treating a patient with a complex condition. In covering or understanding complex health and social policies, we need sometimes help too. Today’s interview is with Katherine Swartz, PhD. She is Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Ever wanted to turn health care reform into a drinking game? If so, and if you're in Manhattan tonight, I'll be appearing at Citizen Joe's "Policy on the Rocks" at 8 pm. Citizen Joe is a non-partisan, non-profit group that "promotes awareness and open dialogue on national policy issues"--which isn't so unusual, except they like to hold their events at bars. Tonight's will be at the Merc Bar, at 151 Mercer Street between Houston and Prince. Full details are in the attached flier.
Armed with favorable cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and emboldened, perhaps, by the self-destructive behavior of the health insurance lobby, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to propose that her caucus unite behind a reform bill with a strong public insurance option.
It's too early to guarantee that health care reform passes. It's not too early to think about what should happen next. What will it take to make the final reform plan work--to make sure that it really provides affordable coverage while realigining the health care system to produce higher quality, less costly care? And what can be done now, as the debate moves onto the House and Senate floors, in order to make success more likely?
The insurance industry did itself no favors last week when it released a report purporting to show that health care reform would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. The report focused on only a few specific changes contained in the various reform bills, rather than the bills in their entirety. And the report came out just a day before the Senate Finance Committee, the last of five congressional panels with jurisdiction, was scheduled to vote on a bill. Most of Washington interpreted the report as an effort to delay, if not derail, the reform debate--which it almost surely was.
Most under-appreciated feature of health reform: Better dental care for kids. (Jessica Marcy, Kaiser Health News) Liberal groups are mounting a campaign to improve the affordability protections in health reform. (Chris Frates, Politico) Everything you ever wanted to know about the insurance excise tax, but were afraid to ask. (Ezra Klein, Ezra Klein, and Ezra Klein, Washington Post) Note to self: Don't make vacation plans for December. (Brian Beutler, TPM) Ben Nelson spins the latest poll numbers. (Beutler again.)