The Treatment

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. While there are several benefits from health reform that kick in this year, the common understanding is that the core coverage expansions will not take place until 2014.

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A little less than ten years ago, inside a dark hotel restaurant in Utica, New York, Gary Rotzler told me the story of wife Betsy. They had been high school sweethearts and, by the early 1990s, had settled into their version of the American dream: Three young children and a home in Gilbertsville, a village of around 400 people nestled into the foothills of the Catskill mountains. When Gary lost his job at a defense contractor, he lost his health insurance. After piecing together part-time construction work, he got his old job back—but as an independent contractor without benefits.

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Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. The current Pediatrics includes a timely article, which in its way is as frustrating as any account of Tea Party protesters shouting about death panels. The article by David Sugerman and colleagues recounts a 2008 measles outbreak in San Diego. This outbreak began when an intentionally unvaccinated 7-year-old contracted measles on a trip to Switzerland. The boy unintentionally exposed 839 people before the outbreak was contained.

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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. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is not the only Republican Governor trying to rewrite history, distancing himself from the new federal health reform law that mirrors the proposal he once championed for his own state.

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As some of you you may have noticed, I took a short vacation after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed. It seems that Obama and his advisers didn't. With the ink on the presidential signature barely dry, administration officials announced that Don Berwick would be the president's choice to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Who's Berwick? And why is his impending appointment so important?

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My former TNR colleague Suzy Khimm had a nice piece yesterday about a familiar but hugely important issue: poor Medicaid reimbursement rates that lead primary care doctors and specialists to avoid treating poor people. This issue was only partly addressed in health care reform. No one doubts it will fester, becoming a sore point between providers and policymakers and between the states and the federal government. By chance, the electronic version of Pediatrics also arrived yesterday.

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This week's On the Media laments the low quality of press coverage in health care reform. It's certainly easy to find examples of shoddy journalism and public ignorance to bolster this charge.

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Gone Fishing

Well, maybe not actually fishing, but I'm off until Thursday. Thanks for reading, and I'll be back soon.

Just now on CNN, the hosts will reading recent viewer e-mails about health care reform. Among them was an e-mail attacking the new law. If health care reform is so good, the writer wanted to know, why are politicians exempting themselves from it? I've heard critics of the bill, from Republican senators to random internet writers, say this many times. And it's frustrating, because it's not true. As I've written previously, under the new law, members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in the new insurance exchanges.

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The House sure didn't waste any time. Just hours after the Senate passed amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the House passed them, too, by a vote of 220 to 209.  And that's it. Congress is done with health care reform, or at least this phase of it. All that remains is for President Obama to sign the amendments into law. My colleague Jonathan Chait has observed how much the political landscape has changed, almost overnight. It's worth observing that the policy landscape has, too.

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