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

US health policy

New Report: 1 in 4 Uninsured Are Eligible for Coverage (Not in MA)

New report from the National Insitute for Healthcare Management: Understanding the Uninsured: Tailoring Policy Solutions for Different Subpopulations: One in four people without health insurance in America are eligible for government-funded health coverage but have failed to sign up for any government aid program, according to a new study. The study, by nonprofit research group National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation (NIHCM), says 12 million of the nation’s 47 million uninsured could sign up for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), but fail to... Read more »

Clinton, Obama and Massachusetts health reform: Untangling the confusion

Yale political scientist and health reform expert Jacob Hacker has written an important post untangling the confusion many feel in the back-and-forth between Clinton and Obama over health care (read it here). Hacker explains how the virtually identical structure in both candidate's plans have been hidden in the vitriol over their modest differences: So what’s the main story: (1) a basic Democratic consensus about what should be done, or (2) a widening policy divide fueled by presidential ambitions? The answer is (1), but unfortunately, the reality of (2) is increasingly upstaging this welcome... Read more »

National Dems Tepid on Health Reform

This is either really smart or really dumb. From The Hill: Dems Hedge on Healthcare. Congressional Democrats are backing away from healthcare reform promises made by their two presidential candidates, saying that even if their party controls the White House and Congress, sweeping change will be difficult. ... “We all know there is not enough money to do all this stuff,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a Finance Committee member and an Obama supporter, referring to the presidential candidates’ healthcare plans. “What they are doing is … laying out their ambitions.” ... Read more »

Sick Around the World -- Must-See

Have you seen this past week's Frontline documentary, "Sick Around the World: Can the US Learn Anything From the Rest of the World About How to Run a Health Care System"? If you haven't, consider yourself urged to go the the PBS website and view it online -- click here. Fantastic capsule looks at the health care systems in Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland. It's a challenge to many folks on both the right and left in the US. To folks on the right -- why is it that other diverse nations can cover everyone for far less cost, use more services, and maintain higher levels of... Read more »

Wyden Health Plan: You Can Quit Your Job and Keep Your Coverage

One of Gov. Romney's talking points for his vision of the Connector was portability - letting you take your coverage with you as one goes from job to job. The idea was that if many employers used the Connector as their source of insurance, switching employers might not require one to switch insurers. We still have a long way to go to get to this point in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has identified coverage lock-in as a key problem with the current system, and has proposed bipartisan legislation (7 Ds, 7Rs are cosponsors) to move away from employer coverage to individual... Read more »

Farewell to CMS' Dennis Smith

Those who pay extremely close attention to national Medicaid policy know the name, Dennis Smith, well; and he's unknown to 99.999% of everyone else. Here's a note from the Kaiser Daily Report: Dennis Smith on Friday left his position as the director of CMS' Center for Medicaid and State Operations, which he had held for the past seven years. Smith -- who also briefly was acting administrator of CMS -- has been criticized for proposing Medicaid regulations that state governors and some lawmakers believe will reduce health care funding for low-income residents. He also received criticism... Read more »

AG Coakley Files Brief Challenging New Bush Medicaid Rules

Martha Coakley is weighing in against new CMS rules limiting the aiblity of states to expand their SCHIP eligibility levels. Excerpts from her release below: BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey supporting New Jersey’s challenge to a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy limiting the states’ ability to use federal money to fund health insurance for low-income children. The amicus brief argues that an August 17, 2007, letter sent from the Centers for Medicare &... Read more »

Path to National Health Reform 2009?

This slide is the summary of a short presentation detailing the steps that could (or could not) lead to national health reform in 2009. The presentation is by Drew Altman, President of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Here's his explanation of the slides: My aim here is to provide a simple visual aid -- called "The Critical Path to Health Reform" -- for thinking about how momentum can build or still be knocked off track as the country moves toward a potential debate about health reform legislation in the new Congress in 2009. The series of charts and accompanying text illustrate the three... Read more »

Seeking a Health System that Could Work

This looks like it could be really good. The PBS series, FRONTLINE will present SICK AROUND THE WORLD on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS. Here's part of the release: Read more »

Elizabeth Edwards' Three Questions for McCain

Kudos to Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, for taking on presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on the stark insufficiency of his health care proposal. Noting that neither she nor McCain, as cancer victims, would be eligible for private coverage under insurance rules which permit "medical underwriting," she goes on to ask McCain three questions: "1. Under your plan, Senator McCain, would any health insurer be required to sell you or me (or those like us with pre-existing conditions) a health insurance policy? "2. You say... Read more »

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