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What's next for covering health reform: Jim Landers

Jim LandersJim Landers covers business and international affairs stories from Washington, D.C., for The Dallas Morning News. He joined the News in 1981 after working as an overseas journalist in Saudi Arabia and Ireland. Jim was international editor of The News from 1988 to 1994. Landers has worked as a correspondent in the Washington Bureau covering energy, trade, economics, technology and international affairs. He writes "Worldview," a column published in the Business News section of The Dallas Morning News. He also has worked in Montana, New Jersey, Richmond, Va., and the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Relevant stories

Jim Landers
Washington Correspondent
The Dallas Morning News

The thing most people will want to know about this bill, and its local dimension, is the impact on insurance coverage who now gets in, who stays out – and what the local "charity" hospitals think will happen to their patient loads in the ER.

The hospital is the easy bit. On the insured, reporters can try the usual suspects (Kaiser, Commonwealth) along with a couple more in our backyard, Milliman and MHBT. Anyone with a college in town could also get a quick hit about the provision allowing parents to keep their children on their insurance out to age 26.

Stories about paying for it are murkier. There are sources to go to about high-cost hospital care (Dartmouth Atlas especially), along with a new Milliman study.

The bill has lots of stuff about gradual improvements in these. The most evident are the promises by hospitals and pharma to forego $155 billion and $80 billion. There are also the health IT efforts that everybody is pursuing.

The story on a quick turnaround, however, would be to question the high-cost hospitals (see American Hospital Directory for the retail prices) about why that is, and what they're doing about it in light of the legislation. Hospitals are big targets, and someone should always be available to talk.