Mark McClellan

Several dozen organizations filed “friend of the court” briefs for the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. And virtually none of these briefs are likely to have much impact. But, based on what transpired at oral arguments, one brief appears to have gotten the attention of conservative justices. That is deeply worrisome, because the brief betrays some fundamental misunderstandings of how health care actually works.  The brief comes from the American Action Forum, a conservative advocacy group that opposes the law, and has the signature of 101 economists and policy experts.

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Second Opinion

Few health care experts are more intimidating or effective than Gail Wilensky. An economist trained at the University of Michigan, Wilensky served as director of Medicare and Medicaid under George H.W. Bush. Later, she became chairperson of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a highly respected, blue-ribbon commission that advises Medicare on what to pay for medical services. Since that time, she’s held multiple positions in the advocacy and nonprofit worlds.

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David Frum is like Obi-Wan Kenobi -- they thought they slew him, but he continues to haunt the right: [A]s with the notorious firing of Bruce Bartlett from the National Center for Policy Analysis in 2005 after his book critical of President George W. Bush; as with my own termination at the American Enterprise Institute in March; the Lindsey-Wilkinson apparent termination raises very troubling questions about what has happened to the right-of-center think-tank enterprise. Consider this: The leading right-of-center student of healthcare policy in the whole country is Mark McClellan.

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Meet The Don

President Obama is done waiting for the Senate to approve his nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid. On Tuesday evening, the White House announced Obama will use a recess appointment to make Don Berwick director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). That means Berwick can serve as the agency's administrator without Senate approval, but only until the next congressional session expires in 2011. CMS director is always an important job. But it's even more important now, as the Obama administration starts to implement health care reform.

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Save Donald

This column is a collaboration between KHN and The New Republic. He’s a socialist! He’ll redistribute wealth! He wants to pull the plug on grandma! That’s what Republicans said about President Barack Obama back in 2009, while he was trying to make health care reform bill law. Now they’re saying it about Donald Berwick, the man Obama has appointed to help make health care reform work. Who is Berwick? He’s one of the nation’s well-respected and best-known authorities on our health care system.

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A group of economists has issued a letter endorsing both the principles of cost control in the Senate Finance bill and the idea of health care reform more generally. But this is not just any old group of economists. This is an unusually impressive group, including a pair of Nobel laureates and some figures who don't typically weigh in on current policy debates: Kenneth Arrow, Victor Fuchs, Daniel McFadden, Joseph Newhouse.

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Ron Brownstein does. No, he doesn't have a vote in Congress. But he's somebody to whom Congress listens--and rightly so. He is smart, careful, and happens to know a lot about health care. So what has him so happy? The bill's attack on rising costs: The bill represents by far the most serious effort to implement the innovative thinking from the community of health care reformers looking to move the medical system away from today's fee-for-service model toward a system that ties payments to providers to results for patients.

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Former Bush Medicare administrator Mark McClellan makes an interesting point in Sheryl Gay Stolberg's Times piece this morning: Whether or not Mr. Obama gets the kind of comprehensive bill he is hoping for, Dr. McClellan said, Congress is all but certain to take up health legislation by early next year to fix a measure that would impose a draconian 21 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors.

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