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

US health policy

Patrick Calls Clinton Health Plan "Remarkably Similar" to Obama's

From today's State House News Service -- the increasingly bizarre health reform conversation: ...Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday evening said Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care plan is "remarkably similar" to rival Sen. Barack Obama's, even though his lacks an individual mandate. In one of their few overt policy differences, Obama has touted a health care plan without a mandate that would force individuals to purchase health insurance. Clinton's plan has been compared to Massachusetts's health care reform effort because of its reliance on a mandate for individuals to purchase insurance. Read more »

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 »

ROMNEY: "No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work."

Who knows how much longer we'll have Mitt for our needed doses of health care humor. So let's give him some air time to confuse further the American public about the MA health reform law (our comments in italics). This is from the transcript of Saturday's ABC News presidential debate: Read more »

A Surprising San Francisco Treat

Last week, we reported that San Francisco's "play or pay" assessment on employers to fund part of that City's coverage expansion was overturned by a federal judge on ERISA grounds -- click here for that post. A drearily familiar pattern by federal courts overturning such requirements. Today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that a federal appeals court looks quite likely to overturn the lower court ruling and uphold the San Francisco assessment. That would be welcome, surprising, and win the issue a guaranteed ticket to the US Supreme Court. Game on... Read more »

Bush Administration Tightening the Screws

Robert Pear in today's New York Times catalogues the efforts by the Bush Adminstration and Dennis Smith of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to deny federal approval to states seeking to expand their Children's Health Programs and Medicaid as well. Not just blue states, either. Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wisconsin. What does this mean for Massachusetts? Good question. 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 »

Health Insurance and Cancer Survival

A new study shows that uninsured persons are more likely to die from cancer within the first five years after diagnosis than their privately insured counterparts. Click here for information on the study provided by the American Cancer Society which is doing first rate work making universal health insurance their top priority issue. The results of this study more than justify their prioritization of this issue -- and ACS has taken more than their share of knocks for doing this. 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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