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Health Care Politics

Now THIS Is Good News: Cong. Dems Consider Medicaid as Part of Economic Stimulus

From today's Kaiser Health Policy Report, unadulterated good news for everyone in Massachusetts, especially those of us who care about health care access. Democratic plans to include an increase in the percentage of matching funds states receive for Medicaid as part of an economic stimulus package might meet "resistance from Republicans, although they might be willing to allow the provision in exchange for some of their priorities," CongressDaily reports. Increasing the federal medical assistance percentage would help states maintain Medicaid eligibility levels at a time when more people are... Read more »

Rep. Pat Walrath Not Running for Re-Election

Rep. Pat Walrath announced this week she will not be seeking re-election to the House this November. She is the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing, and entered the House in 1985. If you are looking for someone who breaks the public stereotype of a State House pol, she may be the best example there is. She still carries a Minnesota accent, and a mathematician's approach to problem solving. In 2005, much to Pat's surprise, she got named Health Financing Chair having had little or no exposure to the topic in her prior 20 years of House service. In her typical fashion... Read more »

New SHNS/Suffolk Poll -- Slender Support for Individual Mandate

New State House News/Suffolk Poll out today on a host of political issues, one of them -- Do you support or oppose the provision of the state's health insurance law that imposes a fine on people who can afford to buy health insurance for themselves, but don't do so? Support: 49.8 Oppose: 45.5 Don’t Know: 3.5 Refused: 1.2 Men oppose 46.3 to 48.5%, and women support 53.1 to 42.7%. All age cohorts support by slender margins, younger folks (18-39) the most, 51.5 to 46.1%. Higher education equals higher level of support. Dems support 56.0 to 37.6%; Independents oppose 43.8 to 51.5%; Republicans... Read more »

Individual Mandate Is Not a Winner in NH

Honestly, it was with some surprise that we saw Hillary Clinton and John Edwards robustly embrace an individual health insurance mandate before it even had been road-tested in Massachusetts, on both the policy and political fronts. Obama was more cautious, advancing only a mandate for parents to cover their children. Crosstabs in the Globe's new poll on the New Hampshire race perhaps show why. The notion of an individual mandate is far from a slam dunk among 410 New Hampshire Democrats. Click here for a fuller set of numbers. Should individuals be required to purchase health insurance?... Read more »

The Optimist

Ezra Klein, writing in the American Prospect (subscription required), is optimistic we'll get national health reform in 2009. Just read his title -- Why 2009 Is the Year for Universal Health Care: It's not 1994 all over again. The next president can get the reforms that Harry Truman and Bill Clinton couldn't. Go Ezra! Read more »

National Insurers Propose Market Reforms

If there is a well-deserved bullseye on one group in the lead-up to a new national health reform round in 2009, it's the national insurance industry. Their practices of medical underwriting and pre-existing condition exclusions, along with the countless ways they make it hard for consumers to get payment for services when they need it, have made them the agreed-upon number one target of all Democratic presidential candidates' reform plans. And deservedly so. New York Times reports that their national trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans, is now promoting its own agenda for... Read more »

Patrick Admin. Sets Health System Goals

MA Health and Human Services Secretary Judy Ann Bigby today announced a new Patrick Administration effort to align efforts among nine executive branch secretariats and agencies (including the Attorney General) to achieve health system improvements aimed at five goals: 1. ensuring access to care; 2. containing health care costs; 3. advancing health care quality; 4. promoting individual wellness; and 5. developing healthy communities Short term (one year) goals include: A. alignment of performance measures and incentives; B. a disease management and prevention initiative focused on diabetes and... Read more »

Romney's -- ummm -- "Exaggeration"

Here's Mitt Romney speaking at Sunday's Republican Presidential Debate in Florida (from Kaiser Daily Report): ...Romney discussed a recently implemented Massachusetts health insurance law that requires all residents to obtain coverage and provides subsidies for lower-income residents. According to Romney, "It cost us no more money to help people buy insurance policies that they could afford than it was costing us before, handing out free care." Whew. If MA health reform has proven anything definitively, it may just be demolishing the hypothesis that there is a free lunch to universal coverage... Read more »

Let Us All Now Praise Sen. Sherrod Brown

We are so used to media accounts of political leaders saying one thing and doing another, it comes as a shock to see someone, out of the spotlight, walking the walk. So let's take a moment to recognize US Senator Sherrod Brown, highlighted in yesterday's Washington Post, who, since being elected to the US House in 1992, has refused government-sponsored health insurance until all Americans can get it: "Truth be told, I thought that we would pass some real universal health care in the next two years," Brown said. "I didn't think it was going to be a 15-year-long or two-decade-long commitment." Read more »

National Progressives Wrestle with Individual Mandates

Check out Paul Krugman's New York Times column today for a window into the growing debate on the left concerning individual health insurance mandates. In the national Democratic presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are in favor, and Barack Obama is opposed (except for children). Paul Krugman has been one of the most articulate and reasoned writers on the left on health reform on the national scene, and a passionate advocate and backer of "single payer" -- Canadian style -- Medicare for All -- reform formulae. And he's now taking Obama to task for challenging Clinton on the... Read more »


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