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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

US health policy

SF Starts Enrollment in Health San Francisco

Massachusetts is not the only place where enrollment is opening to folks without health insurance. This past week, the door to coverage opened for a municipal program in San Francisco aiming to provide health services to every uninsured city resident. Click here for a San Francisco Chronicle story on the limited opening this past week: Read more »

Republican Presidential Candidates Are Getting on the Health Reform Bandwagon

Check out today's New York Times piece, Health Care Looms as Top Campaign Issue (click here). And ignore all the discussion about the Democratic candidates -- just pay attention to the Republicans. Yes, even the Republicans are increasingly feeling the need to articulate ambitious reform plans to cover the uninsured. Yes -- they don't make much sense. Doesn't matter -- the third leg to building momentum for a major national health reform push in 2009 is growing and strengthening. This is a key and essential development. Read more »

Special Needs Plans (SNPs) Under the Microscope

Our sister organization, Community Catalyst, has launched a Consumer Education Project on so-called "Special Needs Plans" or SNPs. They have just released their first report: Special Needs Plans (SNPs): Overpayment Debate Ignores Need for Reform to Achieve Original Program Goals. Click here for the report. Read more »

Bush Opposes SCHIP Expansion

Nine million uninsured kids. Large increase during his time in office. His popularity numbers at Nixonian levels. You might think our lameduck President would support more health coverage for kids. Not this guy. His SCHIP proposal would reduce the number of kids on SCHIP as well as most of their parents. He may well veto it and then watch his veto get overridden. On one level, it's fun watching his increasing irrelevance. On another level, it's just sad. From Kaiser: Read more »

Kennedy/Hatch Team Up Again on SCHIP

Back in 1996, Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch from Utah became the dynamic duo responsible for the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP now covers between 5-6 million lower income kids; there are another 9 million kids still uninsured, and 6 million of those are eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP programs today, but unenrolled, and states don't have enough dough to bring them all in. Many were hoping for a repeat Kennedy/Hatch performance. Seemed unlikely, until this new announcement, just this week, excerpts below: Read more »

An Engaging Conversation on the Individual Mandate

Lots of the conversation on the Individual Mandate embedded in the MA health reform law is pretty superficial and one-sided, pro or con. The American Prospect magazine's blog hosts an interesting discussion worth a look: First up is Ezra Klein who points out that Barack Obama's plan does not include an individual mandate, and speculates that it's due to the political riskiness of the idea: Read more »

Iraq War Bill Funds Also MA Kids Coverage

Yesterday the U.S. Congress acted to expand both funding for the Iraq war and children’s health insurance at the same time. Contained in the war funding bill signed by the President yesterday is approximately $650 million in emergency money for states to fund their SCHIP programs. Around $80 million will go to Massachusetts. SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a highly successful initiative that provides quality, affordable health care coverage for children. In Massachusetts alone, almost 82,000 are covered by SCHIP (a good overview is here). Read more »

Rep. Jim McGovern + Others Living on Food Stamp Budget -- $3 per day

Here's something noteworthy: U.S. Reps Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Tim Ryan (D-OH) have pledged to live on an average food stamp budget -- just $3 a day -- from May 15-21, 2007 and have invited other Members of Congress to join them in the Food Stamp Challenge. The spouses of Reps. McGovern and Emerson will also be taking the challenge. A number of advocate groups and Congressional staff are also expected to take part. Members of Congress are living on a food stamp budget for one week in order to raise visibility and understanding around the... Read more »

Prescription Access Litigation Project Starts a Blog

Our colleagues at the Prescription Access Litigation Project (PAL) have started their own blog on the ins and outs of pharmaceutical industry litigation and other related activities. PAL is a project of Community Catalyst, HCFA's national partner organization. The blog address is: http://prescriptionaccess.org/blog/ Read more »

Gawande Part II: He Likes MA Reform

Atul Gawande is this month's NYT guest op-ed columnist. In today's column (subscription required), he tries to identify system solutions to our health care mess, and he likes what he sees in Massachusetts. Some excerpts: The American health insurance system is a slow-creeping ruin, damaging people and increasingly the employers that hire us. Yet there is another truth as well: the vast majority who have decent coverage are happy with the care we get — I am writing this, for instance, as I sit with my 11-year-old son waiting for an M.R.I. to check the cardiac repair that has saved his life... Read more »

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