- The Urban Institute put out a report on the Massachusetts health plan two weeks ago. It’s findings were mostly positive. More than half of the unisured in 2006 are now insured (greater than expectations), most people like the plan, access to care has improved, and out of pocket costs have dropped. The bad side is that budget costs have run over budget (but so has national spending) and there is a shortage of primary care doctors. For the NYTimes read here and here.
- ” Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, told Congress on Monday that health spending would “rise relentlessly” unless lawmakers overhauled the health care system, and he recommended an eclectic approach.” Read more here.
- Employer health care costs are expected to rise nearly 10% in 2008 and in 2009, respectively. Much of the extra expense is due to a hospital building boom and the cost of cross-subsidizing the uninsured and public programs. The study comes out of PriceWaterhouseCoppers and was reported by the AP.
Category Archives: Headlines
- The first national report on patient’s views of hospital care was released this week. Results were mixed. The most interesting aspect of this news is just how little we know of the quality of our health institutions.
- Hillary Clinton adds some details to her health care plan, most significantly a general cap on health care costs based on income. No one would pay more than 10% of their income on health insurance.
I apologize for the absence the past two weeks, but my absence does not mean that health care has fallen from the headlines. However, it should be noted that health care has fallen from the political spotlight as the economy has emerged as number one with Iraq and health care fighting it out for a distant second spot.
- SCHIP failed once again. The House failed to overturn President’s Bush veto of the $35 billion SCHIP expansion. The House voted 260-152, but 15 votes short for the needed 2/3 majority. It seems to me that this time around the veto fight loss much of its steam while the $150 billion payout to most Americans gained momentum. Check it out here.
- California’s bid to provide universal health coverage seems doomed today by an expected “no” vote by a senate health committee. Check it out here.
- A follow-up on Wal-mart. Wal-mart now insures over 50% of its employees – a huge milestone. Wal-mart has surpassed Target and has left its critics with one less area for concern.
The shadow from Iowa threatens to hide all other news stories, but a few health care headlines caught my attention.
- The big news story is that the Bush administration has and is preventing states from expanding Medicaid. Since Medicaid is a federal/state funding partnership, states will be unable to expand Medicaid in any appreciable way. The administration’s policy is consistent with its restrictions placed on SCHIP last summer. They state the crowd-out effect as a primary motivator. Read the details here.
- Oklahoma City’s mayor challenges his city to lose 1 million pounds. Its a simple idea. Set-up a website, and I am assuming a marketing campaign, to encourage weight loss. It will be interesting to see if this works, especially considering that the city’s official meal (really!) consists of cornbread, sausage and gravy, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, fried okra, squash, barbecue pork, biscuits, grits, corn, strawberries and black-eyed peas. Will this initiative be a few public dollars well spent? We will see. You can see it here.
- President Bush vetoed a second bipartisan SCHIP expansion bill. The Congress made changes to the SCHIP expansion, but after a private veto, it appears that he did not think the Congress compromised enough. Bush states that the bill covers children with family incomes above the U.S. median, allows adults into the program, and raises taxes (cigarette tax). If you want to know what the bill really does and does not do (and see what changes were made from the first bill to the second) take a look at the Kaiser Family Foundation. For example, the bill gives States that previously allowed childless adults into the program one year to move them out (down from 2 years before) and it allows those States that previously allowed pregnant mothers and adults with children a new set-aside financing scheme, but it would not allow any new waivers for such coverage. Before Congress recesses for the Holidays it looks as if they will extend SCHIP at its current level until sometime in 2008. Round and round we go.
- The National Federation of Independent Businesses put out a strong warning on health care reform. They will be against any plans that requires businesses to provide insurance or pay into the system. This statement is important as they played a large role in blocking Clinton’s 1993 health care reform. Clinton, Edwards, and Obama – watch out – the battle has begun.
- Today the House fell 13 votes short from overriding President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP expansion. The current SCHIP has been extended till mid-November so the debate and compromises are forthcoming. Read more
- A study from the CDC states that 19,000 deaths can be attributed to infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria – more than the deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS. This article is especially interesting as we have been examining health care quality. Read more.
- President Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill (Children’s Health Bill) today. It is not clear how long many States will be able to finance children’s health care without the federal dollars. Bush claims that SCHIP is one more step toward federal health care for everybody. The Democrats and a some Republicans argue that the SCHIP expansion is a moral and needed law to protect our children. The Senate seems to have the votes to override, but the House is short as of now. Read more here.
- The second item is from last week. The United Auto Workers ended their strike against G.M. after a deal was made. The sticking point was the $55 billion projected debt that G.M. was going to owe on health care expenses. The agreement allows G.M. to move the debt off the books into something called a VEBA. I don’t know what that all entails, but the point I take from it all – health care is a big issue not just to the uninsured but to corporate America as well. Read More here.